October 26th, 2018 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 healthy and healing. And now, in our modern times, medicinal research is, in fact, proving this belief with scientific evidence.
Why is tea so healthy?
Tea contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which fight against free radicals in the body and can also keep your gut bacteria healthy and happy. Polyphenols are so effective, they can eliminate and possibly reverse the oxidative damage your body is subjected to every day. Consuming sufficient amounts of polyphenols can give you the following benefits.
1. Improved gut health and digestion
Tea is actually a potent prebiotic. Prebiotics encourage 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 reduced the risk of death from heart attack or stroke by 26%. (2) It turns out that tea supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (3) Studies show that people who drink the most green tea have a 28% less risk of developing coronary artery disease. (4)
3. Support brain health
Drinking tea seems to protect brain cells from the oxidative stress that contributes to memory loss. One study looked specifically at the protein plaques that cause brain cell damage. Consuming the catechins in green tea demonstrated a reduction in the amount of memory loss induced by these protein plaques. (5) Another study found that green tea prevented the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter primarily responsible for memory. (6)
4. Reduced stress
Another beneficial bioactive compound found in tea is something called L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that regulates neurotransmitter and brain activities. (7) Green tea, in particular, contains high levels of L-theanine and has been demonstrated to produce an anti-stress effect. It does this by blocking certain receptors in your brain and actually inhibiting cortical neuron excitation. (8) In other words, it helps your brain chill out
5. Support healthy weight loss
Green tea has been proven time and time again to be a successful aid in reducing body fat and LDL cholesterol. (9)(10) This goes above and beyond mere weight loss -- these are true long-term health benefits! You can read more about the various teas that help with different aspects of weight loss here.
6. Protect bone density
According to one study, tea catechins were responsible for stimulating an enzyme that increased bone growth by 79 percent. (11) That same study also found that tea consumption led to an increase in bone mineralization. This is especially good news for women, who tend to experience a decrease in bone mineralization as they age. Other research seems to indicate that green tea can help slow down the deterioration of cartilage and also reduce the inflammation caused by arthritis. (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 cup of tea to your day.
Harvard doctors recommend a minimum of 3 cups per day in order to experience health benefits. Clinical studies have shown that a minimum to 300-500mg of catechins per day are necessary to see any results. That actually translates to 3-5 cups of 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 heightened energy and a boost in digestion. 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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