I'm drinking more tea since I learnt this
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water and is a major source of dietary flavonoids. Yet surprisingly, the way in which tea supports our health is still unknown (June, 2019).
If you don't yet drink enough tea (I don't) then perhaps it is time to take up the habit. Here's why.
For centuries, tea has been anecdotally linked to digestive health, and research studies have convincingly associated consumption of black tea with reduced cardiovascular risk. This benefit is attributed to substances called polyphenols, such as catechins.
Breakdown of black tea improves our gut biome
Polyphenols are also in other (non-black) teas and in orange skin, for example. What's different about the black tea polyphenols (BTP) is that they are heavier molecules and can resist breakdown in our stomach. In other words, BTPs are too large for direct bioavailability for our metabolism - like some fibres which are not readily digestible in our stomach.
It takes the power of our colon break down these big boys, and when that happens, other magic happens associated with our gut biome.
The microflora in the colon bioconvert the BTP to make the polyphenols available to other parts of our metabolism, and concurrently this breakdown improves gut microbial diversity.
Hence, BTPs give us direct benefits associated with polyphenols from their anti-inflammatory and blood pressure-lowering properties. They also give us indirect benefits from the byproducts of breaking down in the gut, such as improvements in platelet and endothelial functions (which may be why black tea benefits diabetics).
The interaction between the gut biome and the rest of our body is still far from understood. Humans are superorganisms, and the gut is part of our super-complicated system of how we stay healthy. Some studies suggest that the BTPs are even more effective when they are digested in conjunction with fibre and especially prebiotic fibres as in bananas.
Nine reasons to drink tea plus one more for the brain
Tea's benefits are all great news for tea drinkers because black tea offers such an impressive array of benefits - including:
Also, evidence continues to emerge that tea may act to improve cognitive function. For example, a study showed that green tea increases brain activation in a key area that improves immediate language processing and short-term recall. Other research suggests that tea polyphenols may be useful for the prevention or treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases.
For smokers, however, it has been found that black tea does not confer many of these benefits. If you smoke, this is one more important reason to quit.
How many cups should we drink daily?
What we need to know is what "dose" is effective? Some studies have not found beneficial effects, and this has been put down to too low a dose of black tea.
We need to know the "physiologically relevant dosage". We are looking for long-term persistent results, not just directly after drinking tea.
In a study of dose, two healthy volunteers drank 4 cups of Lipton green tea every day for four days. Tests recorded levels of BTP, and its byproducts which were sufficient to activate the associated benefits.
You want to get the most benefits without overdoing the caffeine. Therefore, consider drinking between 3 and 6 cups of tea per day. No sugar of course! Added sugar will do more damage than the benefits of the tea.
I mix green and back in the one pot and drink 4 to 5 cups a day. I also cheat a little by emptying a teabag into my oats each night, which I then heat and cool to make them prebiotic. That way I get the fibre as well as the tea BTPs.
Good luck. I'm off to have a cup of my mixed tea with lunch.
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