May 29, 2015

Benefits of Drinking Tea

According to a new study drinking tea over a long period--oolong, green, or black--builds strong bones. Bone loss can start in the thirties, especially in women. Although osteoporosis (bone loss) is more common in women it occurs in elderly men too. For women, the loss may worsen after they reach menopause when their level of estrogen drop. Estrogen is a hormone that helps maintain strong, healthy bones. As bone density decreases, the risk of breaking a bone increases significantly, especially in the hips, spine, and wrists.

Researchers gathered detailed dietary information from more than 1,000 Chinese men and women with an average age of 52 years. Approximately half of those who participated drank tea at least once a week for at least six months. Those who drank tea regularly for six to 10 years showed higher bone density in the spine than occasional tea drinkers. Those who drank tea for more than 10 years had even better bone density. It made no difference in the type of tea they drank (green, oolong or black). Few of the participants put milk in their tea.

Why is tea so good for the bones? The researchers offered several possibilities: (1) tea, an important source of fluoride, can slow osteoporosis; (2) tea is rich in flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that improve bone density; (3) tea may alter the way the body uses other minerals that influence bone density.

The effect of tea on heart attack survival rates has also been studied. Researchers found that heavy tea drinkers were most likely to have survived while the death rate among moderate tea drinkers was nearly one-third lower than that of those who did not drink tea. This led researchers to conclude there was an "inverse relationship" between tea drinking and heart attack survival rates. The research is the latest in a series of studies to conclude that tea drinking can be good for health. Earlier this year a study in China showed that regular tea drinkers were only half as likely to develop cancer of the stomach or esophagus as non-drinkers. Research also revealed that the caffeine in tea could relieve aches and pains at least as quickly as painkilling medication.

Dr. Sylvia Mandel, of the Eve Topf Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Israel, found that tea consumption helps maintain the health of neurons in the brain and improved their ability to combat stressors. In the study, Dr. Mandel provided an amount of purified tea flavonoids equal to about two to four cups of green tea per day to animals with induced Parkinsonism as part of their diet to evaluate how their symptoms improved or progressed. She found that in animals that were fed green tea flavonoids, the polyphone appeared to prevent brain cells from dying, and showed improvements in reducing compounds that lead to lesions in the brains of animals with Alzheimer's disease. The research shows that tea may not only help prevent brain cells from dying, it appears that tea flavonoids may even rescue the neurons once they have been damaged.
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