The Refreshing Sip that That Gives Bad Health the Slip
Ordinary tea is anything but ordinary when you take a look at how it helps the body.
Researchers are finding remarkable benefits in tea – including black tea, green tea and herbal teas. When you consider that tea is the most widely-used beverage in the world, this is good news. Something we like is actually good for us.
Your liver, your heart, your arteries, your immune system and even your genetic material all may be helped by sipping tea. And who knew tea is an anti-inflammatory? It truly is a super beverage.
A cold sip of iced tea in the summer does more than cool your sweaty brow on a warm day – it also cools off inflammation, the immune system process that can be involved in chronic problems like heart disease and cancer.
The polyphenols in tea are natural chemicals that are believed to tamp down inflammation through their effects on the body’s proteins.1 The end result is an epigenetic change in the way our genes behave – calming the activity of the immune system so that inflammation becomes less virulent and immune cells keep from damaging the tissues of the body.2
And when researchers get into the nuts and bolts of what these tea compounds do at the cellular level, they are finding that in some cases, they have different effects in women than they do in men.
For instance, a study in Finland shows that tea alters gene behavior in women that affects both their risk of cancer and the way their bodies handle estrogen.3The scientists are still unraveling how these effects play out, but they’re closing in on the answer to how tea helps cells in women avoid becoming part of a tumor.
Along with anti-cancer protection, a study in Japan shows that, in certain circumstances, green tea can save you from losing your life to a lethal rupture in an artery.
The Japanese scientists have found that green tea can strengthen and support artery walls. The result: Extra protection against suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm – a deadly stretching and distortion of one of the body’s main arteries that can lead to a fatal tear in the vessel.
The study shows that a polyphenol in green tea helps the body regenerate its supply of elastin – a protein that, in the words of researcher Shuji Setozaki, gives arteries their “stretchy yet sturdy, texture.”
“Abdominal aortic aneurysms often go unnoticed because there are no symptoms until they burst,” adds researcher Kenji Minakata. “If a patient is lucky and bloating is found before rupture, it needs to be treated surgically, such as by transplanting an artificial blood vessel or inserting a stent graft. At the moment there are no pharmacological treatments.”
These recent discoveries add to a pile of evidence for green tea’s benefits. Even WebMD – no friend of alternatives — says, “Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and control cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.”
Herbal Teas for Liver Health
While green or black tea may help defend against artery ruptures and tumor development, researchers in the Netherlands have found that herbal teas can significantly support the liver and keep this vital organ functioning more effectively.4
That’s important, because these days, thanks to the typical western diet with its waistline-busting surplus of processed foods and the tendency of most people to get little or no exercise, liver disease has become the 12th leading cause of death globally.
As researcher Louise J. M. Alferink, warns: “The Western diet is typically rich in unhealthy foods including processed foods lacking nutrients and containing artificial sugars. This has led not only to an obesity epidemic, but also to a rapid increase in the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).”
NAFLD eventually leads to cirrhosis of the liver – scarring and stiffening of liver tissue. When those processes lead to liver malfunction, death can follow.
But herbal tea seems to keep the liver more flexible and able to sustain its detox duties. How herbal tea does this is still a bit of a mystery, but the Dutch researchers note that herbal teas are loaded with polyphenols that may be responsible.
All of this research is adding to tea’s already well-established reputation as a health-booster. It’s pretty obvious that it’s one of the most reliable, readily available elixirs that that everybody should be drinking.