We can all agree that kicking back in pajamas with a steaming cup of tea is one of life’s great joys. Not to mention that various teas provide myriad health benefits that make reaching for a tea bag over soda a wonderful idea. Check out these five surprising health benefits of drinking tea so you can sip your next steep with peace of mind.
1. Teeth and Tea Go Hand in Hand
Dental health is probably one of the most important aspects of maintaining quality of life as we begin to age. While your first line of defense is regular visits to the dentist, another way to help keep your teeth in tip-top shape is enjoying more green tea in your day. Studies have shown that green tea helps to lower the presence of bacteria in your mouth while also diminishing inflammation which in turn helps prevent gum disease. Just think, a cup of green tea a day can help keep the dentist at bay.
In addition, the antibacterial properties of green tea can help get rid of microbes responsible for bad breath. Simply swishing green tea in your mouth for a few seconds can help improve bad breath but why swish when you can brew a beautiful cup to enjoy in the evening?
Fun Fact: Black teas also possess antibacterial properties but the process of oxidizing the leaves to their rich brownish-black color tends to lessen their impact. Green tea is less processed and is, therefore, more ideal for banishing bacteria in your mouth.
2. Green Tea Can Lower Your Cancer Risk
The National Cancer Institute cites green tea for its compelling evidence in lowering the risk of developing certain cancers in humans. This is due to the rich amount of antioxidant polyphenols present in tea leaves that help to inhibit tumor development and tumor angiogenesis (blood vessel formation).
Additionally, studies show that green tea can modulate your immune system and help activate enzymes in the body responsible for detoxifying cells. This can help prevent and inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. Before you start chugging green tea, it is important to note that while over 50 studies support the use of green tea to help lower cancer risk, this is best paired with a balanced, healthy diet and an active lifestyle to ensure the most impact.
How much green tea is recommended for lowering your cancer risk? The answer to this question can vary and here’s why. With well over 100 studies on record, the dosage of green tea used varies between 3-9 cups of green tea per day to receive positive benefits.
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3. Fermentation for Digestion
Fermented teas are tea leaves that have undergone a process of microbial fermentation using humidity and heat. This process can be done for as little as one day to multiple years. In fact, some of the most refined and expensive teas in the world are ones that have been fermented for very long periods of time such as Pu’er tea. Once tea leaves have been fermented, they are then packed into shaped bricks sometimes called cake tea. You simply steep a bit of the cake in hot water to release the flavors and wonderful benefits.
So what does the fermentation process add to tea? First, it works in tandem with oxidation to allow for a richer and more refined flavor. The complexity achieved by long-time aging makes each cup a relaxing escape. Next, fermentation creates a rich level of probiotics that can help balance unhealthy bacteria levels in your gut and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. This allows for improved digestion and encourages more effective use of nutrients in your body. Diets heavy in processed junk food tend to promote rapid growth of bad bacteria in the gut which can contribute to worsening health issues such as inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, insulin resistance, and more.
Where do I get fermented tea?
For cake tea such as Pu-er, oolong, Korean byeongcha and more, find your local tea shop to see what wonderful teas they import. Tea shops are the perfect place to stock up on your favorite kinds for affordable prices as you can pay the bulk prices and usually bring your own containers to use less plastic. It’s a win-win.
4. Disconnect and Reconnect
The act of enjoying a cup of tea is not only physical but mental. It allows us to take a step back from busy schedules and daily stressors to simply slow down. A recent study by a team of Swedish researchers compiled lifestyle data from over 4,000 individuals and key findings of the study show heavy users of devices like cell phones or computers exhibit increased symptoms of depression, fatigue, sleeping disorders and chronic stress. In this day and age, we are simply always connected and the effects on our health are increasing. To help mitigate some of these effects, taking periodic breaks from technology is essential. And what better way to take a break than to enjoy a cup of tea, have a chat and simply enjoy the scenery.
5. Balance Blood Sugars
Green tea and black tea have been a research focus in recent years for its ability to help regulate blood glucose levels. An analysis of 17 clinical trials to evaluate green tea’s ability to lower blood glucose found that drinking green tea can significantly lower blood sugar and provide a positive effect on A1C levels which measure long term glucose levels.
Black tea helps with lowering blood sugar but research also points to reductions in cholesterol levels in the body. This can mean that black tea has positive indications for helping to manage cholesterol levels when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.
Remember: Steep Not Sweet
Many teas now come in convenient bottles that you can grab quickly on the run. It should be noted that the majority of these teas are pre-sweetened and may be packed with sugar. These sweetened concoctions can quickly derail your weight-loss results and more importantly, overwhelm your glucose levels with refined sugars that can be converted into fat very easily. Steeping your own tea allows you control over the flavor, intensity and sweetness of your brew while the process is a great way to unwind from the day.
So, what did we learn today?
It’s always time for tea!