Tea’s Health Benefits Discovered Not In Asia, But The UK!:
In the process of trying to improve ourselves and our health,
One of the ideas that comes up frequently is that of Small Wins.
Maybe you don’t have to lose 5-10 pounds this month, or get to 10% body-fat by the end of this year.
But just like any health tweak, perhaps there is something you can do that’s a small effort every day.
One that will move you very slowly onto a better course over time.
Well, another bit of research is out on a small but very old part of “accidental supplementation” that could push you onto a better course…
The Short Answer:
- Many times the things we do for our health will be small.
- Perhaps there is a way to keep doing them and slowly improve over time.
- “Accidental Supplements” in our food from things like coffee, berries, & superfoods can have this effect.
- Another one of those food & drink items with hidden benefits is tea.
- A new study on 500,000 UK residents came out, where the main subject was black tea instead of green.
- Over 4 years of self-reporting and 11 of follow-up, people who drank 2+ cups/day of black tea benefited from it.
- They had between a 9-13% lower rate of early-mortality.
- Subjects also had lower rates of Cardiovascular Diseases, Heart Disease, and Stroke.
- These benefits seemed to accrue even in spite of some dietary factors that might oppose them.
- Other small studies support similar benefits.
- Those benefits seem to come mainly from many different beneficial natural-chemicals like antioxidants.
- Drinking tea that’s over 130F is associated with higher rates of esophageal cancer.
- Green tea extract, EGCG is also associated with liver damage.
Read on to find out the details…
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The Stealth Nutrition Theme Of “Accidental Supplementation”:
One of the more interesting themes in nutrition and the odd choices we make in our food & drink,
Turns out to be the idea of “Accidental Supplementation”.
Two key examples of which are probably: 1) Berries, and 2) Coffee.
How exactly is it that we came to be naturally-attracted to these tiny little fruits that grow on shrubs,
But have fascinating health benefits; you know, after we found out which ones don’t just kill us?
How is it the world managed to invent crazy people like James Hoffmann and the crazy process we put coffee through to get this amazing drink,
Simply after watching some speedy goats?
Tea Is The King Of “Accidental Supplements” In Asia And The UK:
It’s pretty amazing that so much of the food & drink we get isn’t just purely nutrition alone.
It can often make us better in some way.
Well, in the eastern part of the world, they’ve had their own accidental “dietary supplements” for quite a long time, too.
And excepting all the crazy exotic-animal-based folk-remedies for the time being, the king of them is probably Tea.
Though tea is king in the east, it also happens to be so in a trading-partner nation that’s been in business with them since the 1600s – The UK.
That’s where the recent work picks up.
One Of The Few Studies Not Done On Green Tea:
Contrary to the bulk of Asian studies, which tend to be on the benefits of Green Tea,
Or the even sexier White Tea, if you can find anything on it,
The current efforts by the NIH/NCI look at the effects of good ole’ black tea that’s been kicking around “Old Blighty” since the mid 1600s.
In work that spans a massive 500,000 subjects in the UK Biobank Study,
Subjects aged between about 40 & 70 completed 4 years of self-reported consumption data that also included beverages like tea.
The Results. Pretty Surprising For A Few Measly Cups A Day:
The average consumption was about 2 cups/day, with the outliers being as high as 20 cups/day in some cases.
In 11 years of follow-up work, the results came back.
Just from drinking those average 2 cups/day of black tea,
The average result was a 9-13% lower risk of early mortality from all causes.
Those subjects also had lower rates of Cardiovascular Diseases, Heart Disease, and Stroke.
The amazing part of this research is that these results appeared to occur regardless of differences in caffeine metabolism,
The Results Were Still Present, Despite Opposing Factors:
And also whether or not people put milk and sugar in their tea.
Which has been associated in the past with adverse outcomes that should have negated tea’s benefits.
Furthermore in the UK, tea is more of a working-class drink, which means it may benefit people despite worse dietary practices.
Whereas in the US, tea is more of an upper-class drink and indicates better diet & nutrition on-average.
According to food scientist Dr. Taylor Wallace, the average American tea-drinker has about 20x higher total flavonoid intake than those who don’t drink tea.
Flavonoids, Polyphenols, & Antioxidants. The Magical Food-Chemicals:
And he might be onto something, because if we look back at the post that discusses the likely source of tea’s benefits, flavonoids,
Black tea comes in at 5th place on one of the high-score lists for those “accidental supplements”.
And that post didn’t really deep-dive into all the different polyphenols/natural antioxidants that tea would have in abundance.
Those are mainly Kaempferol, Myricetin, and Quercetin.
Theaflavins are another type that comes from the fermentation of black tea when their leaves are oxidized.
And Catechins are highest in green tea, like the EGCG you’ve heard so much about.
Though antioxidants don’t really get into your cells as much as researchers had hoped, they do help tons of things that circulate -outside- your cells, and clean things up quite a bit.
We Need More Work. But Other Studies Suggest A Few Themes:
Though more work still needs to be done, there is more supportive evidence out there for tea consumption.
Many small trials suggest regular tea consumption on the order of the NIH study may lower rates of:
1) All-Type Cardiovascular Disease
3) High Blood-Pressure
4) Bad Cholesterol
6) Possible other cellular-level problems in the body.
But you need to be warned that drinking very hot tea above 130F is associated with increased rates of esophageal cancer.
And Green Tea Extract (EGCG) is also associated with liver damage.
So not all practices associated with tea are healthy ones.
One More Thing, Keep Improving Until The Next Supplement:
Though there are more concrete benefits research institutes need to find,
There are still one or two more we do know about.
Like the amazing amino, Theanine, that somehow seems to both calm you down, reduce anxiety, and also make your brain work better and faster.
So I guess the real question going-forward is:
Will there be a tea-based supplement or extract we can take in the future that gives us enhanced benefits,
But without all the liver-destroying liabilities of actual EGCG extract?
Either way until then, drinking tea even to almost silly amounts looks like it might be another one of those small things we can all try,
That can shift us onto a better trajectory very slowly over time.
References & Links:
• Source(s): NIH
• Source Studies:
•AnnIntMed – Tea Consumption and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the UK Biobank : A Prospective Cohort Study
•Summary Safety Review – Green tea extract-containing natural health products – Assessing the potential risk of liver injury (hepatotoxicity)
•AnnIntMed – Hot tea consumption and its interactions with alcohol and tobacco use on the risk for esophageal cancer: a population-based cohort study
•EuroJ.PrevCardio – Tea consumption and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: The China-PAR project
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