Can Tea Help You Live Longer?

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking two or more cups a day can lower risk of death, compared to when not drinking tea. Tea has been known to contain beneficial agents such as antioxidants, that can boost your overall health. Previous studies done in China and Japan have suggested that drinking green tea regularly can lower risk of dying. Previously, studies have only focused on green tea and not black tea.

To determine any health benefits of drinking black tea, the research team looked to the UK. The study took responses from just under a half million men and women age 40 to 69. The respondents reported the average number of cups they drank a day, whether it was black or green, and whether they drank it plain or added milk and sugar to it. They also looked at genetics to predict the participants ability to process caffeine.

After following the participants for eleven years, they found that 90 per cent of the regular tea drinkers drank black tea. Once the study was finished, they found that people that drink two or more cups of tea a day have a 9 to 13 per cent lower risk of dying from all causes versus people that don’t drink tea. Specifically, tea was linked to a lower risk of dying from a stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Interestingly, the results remained the same regardless of whether the participants drank their tea plain of if they added milk or sugar. It also didn’t matter if they were predicted to have a slower genetic ability to process caffeine. And the results were the same whether they had two or ten cups of tea a day, so drinking more didn’t lower the chance any more than just drinking two.

One important caveat is that just because there appears to be a link between drinking tea and living longer does not mean that drinking tea will in fact make you live longer. More research needs to be done on the topic. Furthermore, even though the results show that adding sugar to tea is no different than drinking it “black”, having too much sugar in your diet can have negative impacts. Too much sugar has been linked to excess weight gain, increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.

What is it that makes tea beneficial to our health, and why do the countries that drink the most tea have a higher life expectancy than those were tea isn’t as common?

It’s because tea contains flavonoids.

A flavonoid is a super antioxidant. While antioxidants clear free radicals (cell damage) from our bodies, flavonoids kick it up a notch. In addition to detoxifying our bodies, they also have antimicrobial, memory, and mood enhancing properties. Flavonoids occur naturally in plants, which is why tea has so much of it, and is the same reason why fruits and vegetables are so important to our diet. However, the amount of flavonoids in tea greatly surpasses the amount in fruits and vegetables. Two cups of black, green, or oolong tea contain the daily recommendation of flavonoids.

While all teas from the Camelia sinensis plant, which include black, green, oolong, dark, and white, contain flavonoids, green tea is often separated from the rest for being the tea with the most health benefits.

Green tea is oftentimes the least processed, which means that it contains the most health benefits, since some of the benefits are lost during oxidization. Matcha is another reason why green tea is often considered healthier. Matcha is a type of green tea that is shade grown and crushed into a powder. Shade grown leaves develop more health benefits than leaves that are exposed to the sun. When matcha is prepared, we drink the powder, therefore ingesting the leaves and their benefits instead of simply steeping the leaves.

Besides flavonoids, tea contains the chemical alkylamine antigens. This is a chemical that is found in some bacteria, tumors, parasites, and fungi. By drinking tea, and thus exposing our body to this chemical, we can build up a tolerance to it. This will strengthen our immune system and help fight off infections as we age.

The flavonoids are good for our heart health. They help to prevent the oxidization of the LDL cholesterol particles, which is a necessary particle for the progression of heart disease. The flavonoid compound, EGCG, prevents plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks. Additionally, the lower levels of caffeine in tea doesn’t speed our heart rates up as much as coffee. Because our heart rate doesn’t increase as much with tea, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease decreases among tea drinkers.

Since the flavonoids help repair damaged cells, it stands to reason that they can help repair cancer cells. There have been several studies that found drinking green tea can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer goes down by 22% and the risk of prostate cancer drops even more. Meanwhile, the risk of colorectal cancer reduces by 57%.

One of the happy side effects of drinking more tea is that we’re drinking more water as well. This helps us stay hydrated, which, in addition to other benefits, can help us live longer as well.

Are you a tea drinker? If not, why not consider giving it a try. There is a plethora of flavors available, so you’re sure to find something you like. In the future you could be thankful that you did. If you have any questions, call Oldham and Deitering at 937-898-7673.

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