Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Caffeine: The Health Benefits of Tea

The Health Benefits of Tea

Caffeine. The reason I can physically get out of bed in the morning. 

I can't be alone in opening my eyes and not really feeling awake (or with it for that matter) until the caffeine has got into my system, it's almost as though it has magic properties that can not only hold your eyelids open long enough to get the kids ready and out of the door (in time for school! Win!), but it also paints a smile on your face. It should almost have a warning on the packet saying 'WARNING - May cause good mood'.

Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world, only losing out to water and it's many natural, health and wellbeing benefits. A new report generated by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) has collected some rather interesting details, there have always been fears about 'drinking too much caffeine' (is there really such a thing as too much?), turns out that it's been overhyped, and actually “Drinking four cups of tea daily is associated with heart health benefits, in particular reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.” says Lynne Garton, dietitian and member of the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP).

“Tea contains polyphenols, caffeine, fluoride and L-theanine, and remains an important source of hydration,” she adds. “Tea’s heart health benefits are related to its polyphenol content. Tea polyphenols help to relax the blood vessels so leading to control of blood pressure, and they protect ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, which makes it less harmful.

Caffeine has always seemed to have a bad reputation in one way or another, but I personally think that if you are sourcing your intake from natural solutions such as tea, is it really a bad thing? There was a point for me where I used to drink a well known caffeinated fizzy drink like it was water, empty calories that really were not doing me any good at all, but now that I have bid a fond farewell to that habit, I won't punish myself for enjoying a well deserved cup of tea.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, independent dietitian and member of TAP says that “Despite being found in 60 different types of plants, caffeine often gets a bad rap, and our latest report which we are just about to publish, CAFFEINE: THE HEALTH ASPECTS OF TEA INVESTIGATED, provides a review of the latest data with findings that may be surprising."

“It shows that caffeine improves mood, increases alertness, and reduces the sense of tiredness and pain. The weight of evidence is so strong that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) thinks that certain levels of caffeine in healthy drinks and foods should be able to make a series of health claims.”

Dr Tim Bond (member of TAP) continues: “All too often caffeine is linked in people’s minds with increased urine output yet research has shown that healthy adults would need to drink 5-8 cups of tea at once to experience bladder effects, such as more frequent toilet trips. In addition, EFSA has concluded that caffeine intakes from all sources up to 400 mg per day do not give rise to safety concerns for healthy adults in the general population.

“EFSA’s advice clearly shows that caffeinated drinks can be enjoyed by a wide range of age groups. That means that children aged 4 years and over can safely drink 1-2 mugs of milky unsweetened tea daily, while pregnant and lactating women can have up to 4 mugs of tea daily. Intakes of up to 400mg of caffeine daily are safe for adults enabling a maximum of 8 servings of tea to be consumed. This suggests that worries about moderate caffeine intakes from tea, particularly in pregnant women, new mothers or children, are unfounded.”

Dr Tim Bond adds: “Unlike many other sources of caffeine, tea only contains 40-50mg of caffeine per serving if using a tea bag. At this level of caffeine, a mild improvement in cognitive function would be expected without any risk of negative effects, such as sleep latency or anxiety which have been noted at higher intakes of more than 100mg per serving near to bedtime. Tea is also naturally sugar-free and is typically served with milk, making a small, but vital contribution to mineral intakes over time.”

Lynne Garton adds: “The health benefits of tea and its ingredients are increasingly well established. So, next time you put on the kettle for a brew, consider the amazing blend of natural plant compounds that you are about to drink, and the many benefits that science has unraveled for us.”

So next time you feel that you shouldn't have that one last cup of tea for the day, just have it, because if it makes you feel better why not?

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