September 16th, 2019 12:00am
If you’re interested in feeling healthier, stronger and more energetic, drinking tea just might be the elixir you didn’t know you’ve been missing.
Since ancient times, much of the world’s population has considered drinking tea to be vital for supporting health and healing. And now, in our modern times, peer-reviewed research is, in fact, exploring this idea with more scientific evidence emerging all the time.
Why is tea so healthy?
Tea contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which support healthy cells and healthy gut bacteria. Consuming polyphenols from tea can:
1. Support gut health and digestion
Tea is actually a potent prebiotic. Prebiotics support the growth of good microorganisms in your digestive tract, which in turn contribute to good health. And recent studies show that both green and black tea provide these prebiotics. (1)
2. Support cardiovascular health
A study involving over 40,000 adults found that drinking five or more cups of green tea every day supported cardiovascular health. (2) It turns out that tea supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (3) Studies also show that a daily tea habit supports arterial health. (4)
3. Support brain health
Drinking tea appears to support healthy brain cells and memory. One study looked specifically at protein plaque formation in brain cells. The catechins in green tea appeared to support a healthy memory function in this study. (5) Another study found that green tea helps support balanced neurotransmitters, which supports memory. (6)
4. Supports calm
Another beneficial bioactive compound found in tea is something called L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that supports healthy neurotransmitters and brain activities. (7) Green tea, in particular, is rich in L-theanine and has been demonstrated to support a calm, balanced mood. (8) That’s why some people refer to tea as “meditation in a cup!” 5. Support healthy weight management. Green tea has been proven time and time again to be a successful ally in supporting a healthy body weight. (9)(10) You can read more about the various teas that help with different aspects of weight management here.
6. Support healthy bones
According to one study, tea catechins may support healthy bones. (11) That same study also found that tea consumption supports a process called bone mineralization. Other research indicates that green tea may support healthy cartilage and the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. (12)
How much tea should you drink?
If you want to be able to reap these amazing benefits, you’ll need to do a little more than just add a single cup of tea to your day.
Harvard doctors recommend a minimum of 3 cups per day in order to experience health benefits. On the other hand, studies suggest 3-5 cups of catechin-rich tea per day.
When should you drink tea?
Wondering whether you’re better off drinking tea first thing in the morning or maybe at night? The key is to approach tea as both a functional beverage and a form of hydration, just like water. Your personal tea schedule will depend on your lifestyle and needs. But here’s what to expect:
The immediate effects you feel from tea are a feeling of heightened energy and also of digestive support. Accordingly, the best times to drink tea are whenever you are feeling tired, sluggish or full. For most people, this would be the first thing in the morning, during/after lunch, and dinner. If you’re worried about the caffeine in tea, you can read more about how it differs from coffee caffeine here.
Beware of hidden pesticides, GMOs and chemicals in your tea.
Most traditional teas are sprayed with pesticides to protect their leaves from insects and infection. These chemicals get in the soil and also wind up in the tea you drink. Research has shown that 77 percent of the teas in the U.S. would fail European Union pesticide import standards (14), with test results revealing traces of endosulfan, a pesticide linked to impaired fertility (15). Yikes!
In the US, a large number of conventional tea brands also contain artificial flavoring and GMOs. It has been reported that tea companies use genetically modified derivatives like modified corn and soy lecithin, yet fail to display this information to consumers!
It’s not just tea leaves you need to worry about. Tea bags can also be problematic, as they are often bleached in chlorine. That chlorine stays with the bag and becomes part of your tea when you brew it.
To make matters worse, paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound commonly used as an adhesive, plastic, paint or pesticide. Considered to be a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, epichlorohydrin has been shown to cause cancer in animals and suppress immune function. (16)(17)
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