The Covid-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the need to follow a healthy lifestyle in order to help protect ourselves from the virus and, as we emerge out of lockdown, the focus on good nutrition and hydration will be ever-present.
The health benefits of drinking tea are well-documented. Known as “nature’s healing herb”, the tea plant Camellia Sinensis was originally administered as a medicinal drink and has long been heralded for its therapeutic qualities. Here we examine some of its many health benefits…
Camellia Sinensis was found to grow naturally in tropical South East Asia and the cultivation of tea originated in China around 6th century AD but it didn’t arrive in Europe until the 17th century.
Pen ts’ao or Medical Book written in the Neo- Han dynasty, 25 - 221 A.D., the original authorship of which is ascribed to the Emperor Shen Nung, makes a reference to tea as “good for tumours or abscesses that come about the head, or for ailments of the bladder. It dissipates heat caused by the phlegms, or inflammation of the chest. It quenches thirst. It lessens the desire for sleep. It gladdens and cheers the heart.”
Antioxidants have the ability to effectively limit the damage caused to our bodies by certain molecules, which are either produced internally, or enter from outside. These harmful molecules are referred to as free radicals (FR) and reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Tea contains very high amounts of antioxidant flavonoids which reduce oxidative stress, which can lead to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.
Research has confirmed that tea polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, tea consumption could alleviate the adverse effects of inflation.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), global diabetes incidence is increasing and predicted to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
Research reveals that regular consumption of tea could reduce glucose absorption into the body from the digestive tract, especially from carbohydrate rich food. Tea flavonoids also have the ability to increase the sensitivity of insulin, the hormone which controls blood glucose levels. In addition, tea consumption could have indirect effects on diabetes through reduction of inflammation and obesity, which are are the main risk factors for diabetes and also contribute to increases in diabetic complications.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the world. High cholesterol and fat levels in blood are known risk factors, but detailed research shows that flavonoids in tea can reduce them. Black tea and green tea also have the ability to reduce cholesterol absorption from the diet into the blood stream.
Results from a large number of research studies on tea and cancer indicate that certain components in the tea brew, especially flavonoids found in both black tea and green tea, act through several different mechanisms to reduce the risk of cancer. Tea flavonoids are helpful in all the stages of the cancer development process.
Tea is a major source of dietary fluoride and a typical cup of tea contains 0.14 - 0.34mg of fluoride. Therefore, regular tea consumption provides significant amounts of fluoride that strengthen teeth against decay.