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A Cup of Tea a Day Could Keep Dementia and Alzheimer’s Away

Tea is one of the most widely consumed and healthiest beverages of all—perhaps only second to plain old water. Known to provide a variety of health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of cancer and heart disease, there’s now new evidence to suggest that older individuals who regularly drink tea may significantly reduce their risk of cognitive decline.

A study from the National University of Singapore, which involved nearly 1,000 community-living Chinese adults ages 55 or older, looked at tea consumption data from 2003 to 2005. The study participants also underwent cognitive assessments every two years up until 2010.

After controlling for lifestyle factors, medical conditions, physical activities and social activities, the researchers found that regular consumption of tea — specifically the types of tea brewed from tea leaves — was linked to a 50 percent reduced risk of cognitive decline. And in those who carried the gene responsible for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, there was an 86 percent reduction in cognitive decline.

Feng Lui, assistant professor and lead researcher of the study pointed out that the cognitive benefits come from the bioactive compounds found in tea leaves, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help prevent vascular damage and neurodegeneration in the brain. Given how much of a mystery the brain still is to scientists everywhere, a lot more research is needed to gain a better understanding of these complex biological mechanisms.

This certainly isn’t the first study to suggest that tea is great for brain health. Green tea, in fact, is widely known for its cognitive benefits with previous research showing it has a particularly significant effect on working memory.

While there’s still more than we could imagine to be discovered in the field of brain science, it’s likely safe to say that drinking tea regularly (perhaps daily) is a good habit for almost anyone, young or old, who is healthy and doesn’t have any medical conditions that may conflict with certain types of tea. As mentioned previously, tea brewed from tea leaves are best — including green tea, oolong tea and black tea.

Ready to start drinking more tea for the long-term health benefits? Here are a few ways you can make it a daily habit:

  • Compliment your morning cup of coffee with an additional cup of tea. Go for black or oolong tea varieties if you’re looking for higher amounts of caffeine compared to other types.
  • Bring tea long with you on your commute. All you need is a reusable travel mug and a few minutes before you head off to allow your tea to steep.
  • Wind down before bed with a cup of tea. Try loose leaf, herbal tea varieties that are free of caffeine to help you relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
  • Make your own iced tea for when you need something refreshing. Hot tea is lovely, but maybe not so much when the weather is warm and you need to cool off.

 

By: Elise Moreau        March 25, 2017
Follow Elise at @elisem0reau
 


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Why Your Tea Should Be Organic

For both simple and serious reasons, tea is the superhero of all beverages—most simply because it is versatile. It can be drunk hot or cold, winter or summer, and morning, noon, or night. More importantly, tea is touted for its health benefits including high antioxidant and vitamin C levels and more. Tea has also stood the test of time. It spans both centuries and cultures, from its roots in Asia through Europe and India and to America. Tea has even played an important role in history. The taxation of tea led to the Boston Tea Party and, as a result, is thought to have played a part in starting the American Revolution. If that alone doesn’t give it superhero status, consider that tea can also serve as a natural dye! There are also less-tangible benefits of tea, as well. Tea soothes colds and comforts us through times of stress and sadness.

But what is tea, where does it come from, and why is it important to drink organic tea?

What Is Tea?
The truest tea comes from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, and depending on where it is grown and how it is processed it results in black, green, oolong and white teas. Herbal tea is also available, but it is not made from the tea leaf; rather, it is infused herbs. Specialty teas may include tea leaves and herbs with the addition of flowers, fruits, and spices. We discuss the varieties in more detail below.

The best tea is grown at high altitudes and consists of the smallest new-growth leaves and unopened leaf buds that are picked by hand.

A Short History of the Origins of Tea
The tea plant is native to China and was first cultivated about 2,000 B.C. The Japanese “discovered” it during the eighth century A.D., followed by the Europeans during the seventeenth century, when the British quickly adopted this drink. Tea has played an important role in English culture, and can be seen in the popular British observance of afternoon tea, a light meal served at about 4:00 p.m., and high tea, which became a substitute for afternoon tea in the nineteenth century. Because China could not meet Britain’s high demand for tea, Britain set up tea plantations and colonies in India to support this import. It was not until the twentieth century that America started drinking it iced, which is thought to have started at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

While tea has been around for thousands of years, it hasn’t been until recently that we have been able to select from the expansive variety of organic teas that are available today. Many organic tea companies are emerging with the awareness of organic farming methods on the rise. Even the larger, established tea producers, such as Celestial Seasonings and the Republic of Tea, are now using organic tea leaves for some of their blends.

Why Drink Organic Tea?
Organic tea is grown and processed without pesticides or artificial fertilizers and is also often Fair Trade. This means that you can reap the health benefits of organic tea knowing that small farms are being supported, workers on tea plantations are being treated fairly, and that both the workers and our environment are not exposed to the harmful chemicals used in conventional tea production.

Perhaps the most well-known benefit to drinking tea is for the high level of polyphenols found in tea leaves. Polyphenols are a type of natural plant antioxidant that has been found to help fight free radicals—molecules that occur in the environment that can cause damage to our cells. The accumulation of free-radical damage is thought to lead to heart disease and cancer. Green and black teas are the best known for their antioxidant benefits. Tea is also a wonderful alternative to coffee, with many varieties having just half of the caffeine. The antibacterial properties in tea are also said to improve oral health by preventing tooth decay and halitosis.

tea

Types of Tea
There are four “true teas” that come from the tea plant. They are black, green, oolong, and white and are so named for their production processes. Black is the most processed, followed by oolong, green, and white. All other teas are made with herbal, floral, fruit, spice, or combined infusions.

Black tea is the only “true tea” that is fully oxidized. In its production process, the leaves are picked and tumbled in a machine so that the juices from the leaves react with the air causing it to oxidize, or ferment and turn black. The leaves are then dried to produce the final product, which results in a strong dark reddish-brown brew. Popular varieties include Darjeeling, English breakfast, Earl Grey, and Lapsang Souchong—a distinctively smoky variety.

Green tea is not oxidized; it is steamed and dried, resulting in a slightly bitter, greenish-yellow blend. Green tea has the lowest amount of caffeine of the four “true teas.” Dragon well, tencha, and gunpowder are popular choices of green tea.

Oolong tea falls in between black tea and green tea in terms of taste and color because it is only partially fermented. Formosa oolong, which comes from Taiwan, is the best-known oolong tea.

White tea is the rarest of the four. It is the least handled in production, requiring only plucking and drying.

Rooibos tea is most commonly referred to as red tea, and does not actually come from a tea plant, but from a red bush in South Africa and is considered an herbal tea. Rooibos is reminiscent of the taste of green tea, but is less bitter.

Herbal tea is a hot water drink infused with herbs that often have medicinal properties and most often do not contain caffeine. Popular herbal teas include Peppermint and Chamomile.

Chai tea is a popular tea from India that consists of loose-leaf tea, milk and ground spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, grated nutmeg, and pepper.

Specialty teas have a base of one of the above teas with the addition of flora, spices, or fruit. The possibilities of tea in this category are virtually endless!

Selection
Tea is available at just about any grocery store. Organic tea is less widely available, but now that many major brands are developing and launching organic tea lines, they are becoming more popular. The best place to find a wide variety of high-quality organic tea is at specialty tea shops, coffeehouses, and gourmet stores. Herbal teas are also available in health-food stores. Tea comes loose or in tea bags. We recommend loose tea for its flavor, but if you prefer tea bags for their convenience, look for the environmentally friendly alternative—natural, unbleached tea bags, which should be free of excessive components like extra strings, tags, and staples.

Storage 
Tea may be stored for up to a year, and it should be kept in a cool, dark place in its original plastic or foil packaging in an airtight container.

Preparation
While tea bags are the most convenient method for preparing tea, loose tea provides the best tea experience as it allows the tea’s full flavor to circulate. For best results, bring filtered water to just under a boil. Place the tea bag or loose tea (one teaspoon per cup) in your tea cup, tea ball, or tea pot and allow it to steep 1–3 minutes for green tea, 3–6 minutes for black tea, and 6–8 minutes for oolong tea. Herbal teas need more time and should generally be steeped 8–12 minutes unless the packaging indicates otherwise. Use the above guidelines to determine which end of the spectrum you like your tea, weakest to strongest. Be sure to stir the tea to promote circulation. Remove the tea bag or tea ball and serve. Many people enjoy adding honey, sugar, milk, or soy milk, but many are purists and want to savor it unenhanced. Of course, a traditional crumpet, muffin, or cookie can be a wonderful treat alongside a hot cup of tea!


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How To Stop a Cold Before It Starts

Natural preventatives and some common sense will keep you from getting sick — or staying that way for long.

It’s a double-whammy: getting sick during the winter combines feeling crummy with many people’s less-than-favorite time of year. And if you do have to go outside when you have a cold, you’re probably going to be even more uncomfortable.

Getting sick at least once during the winter is, arguably, inevitable. With more and more of us crowded onto planes, buses, trains and offices, the likelihood of contracting a virus is high. But the suggestions below can help you shorten the length of a cold, avoid a repeat or avoid a worsening (a cold-related cough that turns into bronchitis, for example).

Sleep: If you need a concrete reason to turn off the tube or close the computer and get to bed (beyond that it’s “good for you”) then consider this: Dr. Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told WebMD, “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived, and inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.” And naps count! If you can’t get all your zzz’s in at night, consider a midday snooze — even 20 minutes can make a difference.

Vitamin C: While some physicians say that vitamin C has a negligible effect on a cold’s duration, there are plenty of studies (and anecdotal evidence) that regular doses of ascorbic or calcium ascorbate can affect a cold’s strength, and may even prevent them by supporting the body’s immune response. Vitamin C is inexpensive, and it’s practically impossible to overdose on the stuff, so it’s not a big risk to work it into your winter routine. Chewable vitamins and drink mixes like Emergen-C make it easy to incorporate this into your meals or snacks.

Fruit

Echinacea and Goldenseal: The medical jury is still out on whether these two long-used immune-boosting herbs actually help control the duration and intensity of colds (there are studies that go both ways), but natural health practitioners swear by them. They are most effective when used at the first signs of illness, not once you are already sick. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications (herbs can interact with some of them), but if kept on hand, a liquid tincture — the capsule forms of these herbs are thought by many to be less effective — taken when you have that “uh oh, I feel like I’m coming down with something” feeling might help keep your illness at bay, or be much milder.

Relaxation and stress reduction: Stress is known immune suppressant, so the more often you are stressed out, the less energy your body has to fight disease. Yoga, qigong, tai chi and meditation — or even a night in with the TV and computer off and just a good book and a cup of tea can help your body take the energy it needs to fight off disease.

Exercise: Also fairly well documented is the connection between a strong immune system and regular, heart-pumping exercise. Walking is great, but if you can, make part of your walk brisk. Participation in extreme sports and pushing yourself beyond your limits actually has an immune-damping effect, so the idea here is moderation.

Teetotaling: It’s boring but true: alcohol and other drugs decrease immunity. It’s no coincidence that it’s this time of year, when we are encouraged to indulge the most, that we tend to get sick. A great tactic is to say yes to a glass of wine or a cocktail — but sip it slowly and savor it. You’ll be good to drive, avoid illness and keep the pounds off, too. Or choose just one night to have “too many” drinks — like Christmas Eve or New Year’s, instead of drinking away Thanksgiving through Jan 1.

 by STARRE VARTAN     source: www.mnn.com    November 7, 2011


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Coffee vs. Tea: Is One Better for Your Health?

A hot cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning. A soothing cup of tea can help you relax after a stressful day. And the latest research about the health benefits of each might help you feel a little better about them, whichever beverage you drink.

After years of studies that seemed to swing between dire warnings and cheery promises about what our favorite caffeinated beverages do and don’t do, much of the recent science regarding coffee and tea is generally positive.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently took coffee off its list of suspected carcinogens, and some research suggests it could help keep colon cancer from coming back after treatment. Other studies suggest drinking coffee might stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Various studies have pointed to tea drinkers having lower odds of skin, breast, and prostate cancers. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact ways that happens. But tea, particularly green tea, is rich in compounds like antioxidants, which can limit cell damage and boost the immune system; and polyphenols, which have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease through a polyphenol known as EGCG, which prevents the formation of plaques that are linked to that brain-damaging illness.

Is one better for you than the other?

Experts say that’s hard to say. That’s because it’s difficult to separate out their different ingredients, their role in your diet, and their effects on different body systems.

“I think people are looking at both coffee and tea and how they affect everything, including cancer and GI disease and cardiovascular diseases,” says Elliott Miller, MD, a critical care medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

Miller and his colleagues recently looked at signs of heart disease in more than 6,800 people from different backgrounds across the country. About 75% drank coffee, while about 40% reported drinking tea. Drinking more than one cup of tea regularly was linked to less buildup of calcium in arteries that supply blood to the heart, a development that can lead to heart disease.

Coffee didn’t have an effect either way on heart disease, but that was significant in itself, Miller says.

“Very often patients will ask their doctors, ‘Hey, doc, I’ve got coronary artery disease, or I’ve got risk factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Is it safe for me to drink coffee?’ Because everyone thinks drinking coffee makes your heart excited and is potentially bad,” Miller says. “So finding that it’s neutral, I think, is pretty important.”

Researchers say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how both drinks affect health. Both coffee and tea are “complex beverages” that contain a variety of ingredients. They include caffeine, polyphenols, and antioxidants – compounds researchers are studying for their potential cancer-fighting properties, says Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“It’s more of a dynamic interaction than one single compound,” Cimperman says. Some people have tried to isolate one element in tea or coffee that they think is the secret to one effect or another, “and then they realize that it doesn’t have the same effect.”

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

Cimperman said drinking tea has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss, and a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, studies point to coffee as a potential way to head off not just Parkinson’s but type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems, Cimperman says.

Another recent study, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found regular coffee drinking may help prevent colon cancer from coming back after treatment.

In his study of nearly 1,000 patients, Fuchs says, there was a “significant and linear” association between drinking coffee and lower risk of colon cancer returning in those who drank four or more cups a day. “The more coffee they drank, the lower risk of recurrence.” But the researchers aren’t clear on which element of the drink contributed to that result, and there didn’t seem to be any effect from drinking tea, he says.

“I think you can have two or more cups a day without any concern, and certainly that may benefit you,” Fuchs says. But what about for those who don’t drink coffee? “If it was somebody who hates the stuff and asks, ‘Should I drink it?’ I’d say no. I’d counsel them about diet and exercise and avoiding obesity as measures I think would have a similar benefit.”

Other researchers are asking questions about what role genetics and lifestyle play into the effects of drinking coffee or tea. For instance, coffee and cigarettes once went together like … well, like coffee and cigarettes, which cause cancer and heart disease.

Some people’s bodies process coffee differently than others, says Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Meanwhile, a preference for tea over coffee might reflect other healthier behaviors, she says.

“Does someone who drinks tea do yoga or meditation more?” Gulati says. “I’m not necessarily saying they’re associated, but do they exercise more? Are they drinking things like green tea to maintain their weight better than other types of drinks?”

And Robert Eckel, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Denver, says an overall heart-healthy diet is “probably the most important aspect” of preventing heart disease.

“We’re talking about fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and avoiding saturated fat. That nutritional message is unchanging,” Eckel says.

There are other variables. The WHO’s ruling on coffee nonetheless cautioned that any kind of extremely hot drinks could raise the risk of esophageal cancer, while Cimperman says dumping a lot of cream and sugar into your drink can blunt any benefits.

“No one beverage or food will make or break your diet,” she says. “The quality of your diet is always the sum of all the parts.”

By Matt Smith      Dec. 23, 2016         WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sources:
International Agency for Research on Cancer: “Evaluation of drinking coffee, maté, and very hot beverages.”
American Journal of Medicine: “Associations of Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Intake with Coronary Artery Calcification and Cardiovascular Events.”
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
News release, American Academy of Neurology.
Journal of Clinical Oncology: “Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
National Cancer Institute: “Tea and cancer prevention.”
Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Reported Effects of Tea on Skin, Prostate, Lung and Breast Cancer in Humans.”
Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition: “Tea and its consumption: benefits and risks.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Catechin- and caffeine-rich teas for control of body weight in humans.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Tea and flavonoid intake predict osteoporotic fracture risk in elderly Australian women: a prospective study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Coffee and tea consumption are inversely associated with mortality in a multiethnic urban population.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Effect of increased tea consumption on oxidative DNA damage among smokers: a randomized controlled study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Black Tea Consumption Reduces Total and LDL Cholesterol in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults.”
Diabetes Journals: “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.”
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: “Coffee consumption and risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
Circulation: “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.”
Journal of Clinical Oncology: Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
Neurotoxicology:  “Onset and progression factors in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review.”
Nature: “Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.”
Elliott Miller, MD, critical care medicine specialist, National Institutes of Health.
Lisa Cimperman, dietitian, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Robert Eckel, MD, former president, American Heart Association; University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.Charles Fuchs, director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.


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Top 10 Ways To Stay Healthy This Winter

It seems that no matter how well I plan to take it easy during the holidays, I still end up feeling exhausted when they’re over. Even though I try to avoid malls and holiday traffic all together, it seems that even the cooking and laughing and staying up late are enough to leave me feeling drained.

The cold temperatures and lack of sunshine that occur during the winter have a considerable impact on our well-being, particularly since Jack Frost brings unwanted presents with him: the flu and dampened moods.

But winter doesn’t have to zap your energy or pit you against this season’s new hard-to-beat bug. Stay well all winter long by following the action points below, suggested by health and well-being blogger, Alicia Benjamin.

Thankfully, for those of us who feel like we’ll never have the motivation to get back to our normal routine, these small actions only take a few minutes, or seconds, to do.

1. Eat one dark green vegetable every day. Dark green veggies contain minerals like iron and vitamins like A, C, K, and folate that your body needs to stay healthy. Instead of sticking with spinach, try something different like sautéed dandelion greens added to a stir-fry, or kale or Swiss chard added to a favorite stew or soup recipe.

2. Call a friend. Instead of hunkering down with Love Actually again during a snowstorm, give someone you haven’t seen in a while a call. Hearing a friend’s voice can boost your mood and socializing helps you feel connected to the people who matter most to you.

3. Take five. To combat feeling overwhelmed and rundown during the busy holiday season, take five minutes to close your eyes. Clear your mind of your to-do list (it can wait) and, instead, focus solely on your breathing. Rest your hands over your heart. Repeat in your mind or aloud a calming word, like “blue” or “ocean,” to help ease tension throughout your body. Try picturing yourself on a sunny beach; listen to the waves crash upon shore. Even though it’s not an actual vacation or a real respite from the freezing temps, visualization exercises can be very effective in promoting relaxation and boosting your mood.

4. Hide the remote. When the cold weather sets in, you may be tempted to curl up with a blanket and watch television. Instead, hide the remote so you’re forced to get up to change channels or adjust the volume. You can also challenge yourself by doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks. Little bursts of movement during your down time will ensure you’re getting much-needed activity during the hibernation months.
winter

5. Bake your fruit. Chances are you won’t be craving watermelon when temps drop. So instead, bake fruit for a healthy after-dinner dessert or oatmeal topping for breakfast. Put apple slices and cranberries in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon—a powerful antioxidant—on top to add both health benefits and flavor.

6. Go green. It’s tempting to reach for soda or coffee when we’re feeling sleepy during the winter. Instead, enjoy a cup of green tea. It’s loaded with antioxidants. Plus, green tea extract may also boost metabolism and help burn fat—an added bonus during a time in which we usually indulge. Want the benefits of other hues? Wear yellow or red during the bleakest of winter days to help boost your mood and energy level, or choose green or blue to bring a sense of calm to your busy holiday-planning days.

7. Get more D. We’re often bundled up inside during the winter months, which means we don’t get as much vitamin D as in summer months. There are lots of ways to get vegan and animal sources of vitamin D; supplement your diet with cod liver oil high in EPA/DHA; and add Sockeye salmon, sardines, shrimp, and tuna to your cold-weather menu. Vitamin D can help build strong bones (as it helps the body use calcium) and boost our immune systems for the flu season ahead. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily for adults younger than 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU for adults 50 and older.

8. Disinfect your desk and phone. Your phone receiver and desk surface at work can harbor germs that are spreading around the office. Wipe down your space at least once a week with an antibacterial spray. Method and Seventh Generation make great ones. Also, slip a hand sanitizer in your purse to kill bacteria wherever you go.

9. Keep your bedroom at no more than 68-72 degrees F. Holding the heat will help promote a sound sleep to ensure you’re feeling well rested and refreshed to take on the winter days. Also, aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Want to fall asleep more quickly? Wear socks to bed.

10. Get moving. Temps in the teens make it rather hard to pull yourself out from underneath a pile of blankets. But during the cold weather, nudge yourself to get moving because exercise helps boosts mood and your immune system. Not a fan of outdoor activities like snow shoeing? Hit the mall to walk laps; keep an eye out for gyms offering free trials or classes; look into the costs of joining a local community center like the YMCA; or simply add a few at-home exercises like squats, lunges, and wall push-ups to your daily routine.

A health and well-being blogger, Alicia Benjamin is currently enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health counselor. Alicia works as the Social Media Manager at MeYou Health, a Boston-based social well-being company that provides web and mobile apps to promote healthy living. Alicia tweets about well-being at @AliciaGetsFit and is a regular contributor to the MeYou Health blog.

by Beth Buczynski     @bethbuczynski
source: www.care2.com


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What is Oolong Tea and What Benefits Does it Have?

Oolong tea represents only 2% of the world’s tea, but it’s well-worth discovering (1).

It combines the qualities of dark and green teas, giving it several interesting health benefits.
For example, it may boost metabolism and reduce stress, helping you feel great each day.
This article explains everything you need to know about oolong tea and its health benefits.

What is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea.
It’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed.
All tea leaves contain certain enzymes, which produce a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation is what turns the green tea leaves into a deep black color.
Green tea is not allowed to oxidize much, but black tea is allowed to oxidize until it turns black. Oolong tea is somewhere in between the two, so it is partially oxidized.
This partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea’s color and characteristic taste (2).

This is what oolong tea looks like:

oolong-tea
However, the color of the leaves can vary between different brands, ranging from green to dark brown.

 

Bottom Line: Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea made from the partially oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Nutrients in Oolong Tea

Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals and helpful antioxidants.
A cup of brewed tea will contain approximately (34):
  • Fluoride: 5–24% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 26% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Sodium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Niacin: 1% of the RDI.
  • Caffeine: 36 mg.
Some of the main antioxidants in oolong tea, known as tea polyphenols, are theaflavins, thearubigins and EGCG. These are responsible for many of its health benefits (5).
Oolong tea also contains theanine, an amino acid responsible for the tea’s relaxing effect (6).
 
Bottom Line: In addition to caffeine, oolong tea contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and beneficial tea polyphenol antioxidants.

Oolong Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes

The polyphenol antioxidants found in tea are thought to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. They’re also thought to increase insulin sensitivity (78).
Accordingly, several studies report links between regular tea consumption, improved blood sugar control and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (9101112).
However, the specific effects of oolong tea are generally not as well researched as those of green or black tea.
That being said, a recent review observed that those drinking 24 oz (720 ml) of oolong tea per day had a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (13).
Another study reported that diabetics who consumed 50 oz (1.5 liters) per day had up to 30% lower blood sugar levels at the end of a 30-day study (14).
Similarly, consuming 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea each day for 30 days decreased average blood sugar levels by 3.3% (15).
Nevertheless, not all studies agree and one even reports an increased risk of developing diabetes for those drinking 16 oz (480 ml) or more per day (161718).
Researchers cite pesticide contamination as a likely cause of the negative effects in this study, and do not recommend avoiding oolong tea because of it (18).

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.

Oolong Tea May Improve Heart Health

Regularly consuming tea antioxidants may also improve heart health (19).
Several studies of regular tea drinkers report reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease (2021222324).
In a recent study, people who drank more than 48 oz (1.4 liters) of tea per day were 51% less likely to have heart disease, compared to non-tea drinkers (25).
Several studies have also investigated oolong tea specifically.
One study of more than 76,000 Japanese adults observed that those who drank 8 oz (240 ml) or more of oolong tea per day had a 61% lower heart disease risk (26).
What’s more, a study done in China reports a 39% lower risk of stroke in those drinking 16 oz (480 ml) of oolong or green tea per day (27).
In addition, regularly consuming 4 oz (120 ml) of green or oolong tea per day may reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 46%. However, not all studies agree (2829).
One thing to remember is that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. That being said, this effect tends to fade with regular caffeine consumption (30313233).
Furthermore, since the caffeine content in an 8-oz (240-ml) cup is only about one-fourth of that found in the same amount of coffee, this effect is likely to be small.

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in some people.

Oolong Tea May Help You Lose Weight

Scientists believe that some of the polyphenols in oolong tea may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat absorbed from your diet (34353637).
These polyphenol antioxidants are also thought to activate enzymes that help you use stored fat for energy (37).
One study found that both full-strength and diluted oolong tea helped participants burn 2.9–3.4% more total calories per day (38).
This could be partially due to the caffeine content of tea, but tea polyphenols may also play a role. To test this idea, researchers compared the effects of caffeine alone to a combination of caffeine and tea polyphenols (3738).
Both increased the amount of calories burned by about 4.8%, but only the tea polyphenol and caffeine mix increased the participants’ fat burning ability (37).
This indicates that the fat burning effects of tea are also caused by the plant compounds in tea, not just the caffeine.
That being said, none of the studies clarified whether this increased energy expenditure and fat burning led to any substantial weight loss in humans.
Furthermore, some participants responded better than others, so the effects likely vary from person to person (37).
You can read more in this article about green tea and weight loss. Most of it should apply to oolong tea as well.

Bottom Line: The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.

Oolong Tea May Improve Brain Function

Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease (394041).
In fact, several components of tea may benefit brain function.
For starters, caffeine can increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function (4243).
Further research shows that theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention and relieve anxiety (44).
One recent study reports that tea containing both caffeine and theanine increased alertness and attention within the first 1–2 hours after consumption (44).
Tea polyphenols are also thought to have a calming effect, especially starting two hours after intake (44).
Few studies have looked specifically at oolong tea, but one found that regular tea drinkers had up to a 64% lower risk of brain function decline. This effect was particularly strong for regular black and oolong tea drinkers (45).
Another study linked regularly drinking green, black or oolong tea to improved cognition, memory, executive function and information processing speed (46).
Although not all studies observed the same beneficial effects of oolong tea on brain function, none were found that showed negative effects (47).

Bottom Line: The caffeine, antioxidant and theanine content of teas may have beneficial effects on brain function and mood.

May Protect Against Certain Cancers

Scientists believe the antioxidants present in black, green and oolong teas may help prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer in the body (4849).
Tea polyphenols might also decrease the rate of cancer cell division (50).
What’s more, one review reports that regular tea drinkers may have a 15% lower risk of developing oral cancer (51).
Other reviews report similar protective effects for lung, esophageal, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers (525354555657).
However, most research reports that tea has small or non-existent effects on breast, ovarian and bladder cancers (585960).
Additionally, most research in this field focused on the effects of green or black teas, with the biggest effects noted for green teas.
Since oolong tea falls midway between green and black tea, similar benefits may be expected. However, more research is needed on oolong tea specifically.

Bottom Line: Similar to green and black tea, oolong tea may have protective effects against cancer.

Oolong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength

The antioxidants found in oolong tea may help keep your teeth and bones strong.
One study showed that people who drank black, green or oolong tea daily over a 10-year period had 2% higher overall bone mineral density (61).
A study of 680 postmenopausal Chinese women found that those who drank oolong tea regularly had 4.5–4.9% higher bone densities than non-tea-drinkers (62).
In addition, several other recent reviews report similar positive effects of tea on bone mineral density (6364).
A higher bone mineral density could lower the risk of fractures. However, the direct link between oolong tea and fractures has not been investigated yet.
Finally, research links tea consumption to reduced dental plaque. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel (50).

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help increase bone mineral density. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the formation of dental plaque.

Oolong Tea May Help Relieve Eczema

The polyphenols in tea may also help relieve eczema.
One study asked 118 patients with severe cases of eczema to drink 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea per day, in addition to maintaining their normal treatment.
Eczema symptoms improved as early as 1–2 weeks into the study. After 1 month of the combined treatment, 63% of patients showed improvement.
What’s more, the improvement persisted. They were still observed in 54% of the patients 5 months later (65).

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants in oolong tea may help relieve symptoms of eczema, and the improvements may last for a long time.

Safety and Side Effects

Oolong tea has been consumed for centuries and is generally considered to be safe.
That being said, it does contain caffeine.
When consumed in excess, caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and in some, high blood pressure (66676869).
Additionally, consuming too many polyphenol antioxidants can make them act as pro-oxidants, which are not good for your health. Excess intake may occur from taking polyphenol supplements, but this is unlikely from simply drinking tea (66).
The flavonoids in tea can also bind the iron found in plant foods, reducing absorption from the digestive system by 15–67% (70).
Those with low iron levels should avoid drinking tea with meals and consider consuming vitamin C-rich foods to help increase iron absorption (71).
Both the USDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider daily intakes of 400 mg of caffeine as safe. This is equivalent to 48–80 oz of oolong tea (1.4–2.4 liters) per day (7273).
Given that the average cup is 8 oz (240 ml), you could drink a total of 6–10 cups of oolong tea per day without consuming too much caffeine.
However, pregnant women are advised to stick to a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine, which is about 3-5 cups of oolong tea per day (74).
Keep in mind that coffee, soda, energy drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine. So if you’re trying to reduce your intake, make sure to account for these sources as well.

Bottom Line: Drinking up to 10 cups of oolong tea per day is generally considered to be safe for most people.

Take Home Message

Oolong tea may not be as well known as green or black tea, but it has similar health benefits. These include benefits for heart, brain, bone and dental health.
In addition, it may boost your metabolism, decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and protect against certain types of cancer.
At the end of the day, oolong tea is an incredibly healthy and tasty addition to your lifestyle. Give it a try — you won’t be disappointed.


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8 Everyday Activities That Increase Your Mental Health

Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?

Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.

1. Dwell on the positive

Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, new research finds.

People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.

Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.

The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.

At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.

2. Drink some tea

Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.

It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.

Finally, it is linked to better mental health.

I’ll raise a cup to that!

From: Tea: 6 Brilliant Effects on the Brain

3. Be calm about minor irritations

Dealing with the minor stresses and strains of everyday life in a positive way is key to long-term health, a new study finds.

The research found that people who remained calm or cheerful in the face of irritations had a lower risk of inflammation.

brain

4. Don’t watch the news

Viewing violent news events on social media can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent study has found that almost one-quarter of individuals had PTSD-like symptoms from following events like 9/11 and suicide bombings on social media.

The more people viewed the events, researchers found, the greater the subsequent trauma they experienced.

5. Get your micronutrients

Despite consuming more calories than ever, many people do not get their recommended intake of brain-essential nutrients, a new study reports.

The study explains the best way of getting the required nutrients:

“A traditional whole-food diet, consisting of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods, is more likely to provide the nutrients that afford resiliency against the pathogenesis of mental disorders.”

6. Look out the window

People who live with a water view have better mental health, new research finds.

Don’t live near water? Any sort of green space or even a grassy rooftop will do just as well.

7. A little activity

Compared with inactivity, even ‘mild’ levels of physical activity are linked to 50% better mental health, a new study finds.

The more exercise people performed, the more protected they were against mental disorders, the research also found.

But both low and high levels of exercise were also linked to more than 50% reductions in the risk of suffering mental illness compared with being inactive.

8. Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, new research finds.

People with fewer than 20 teeth are 26% more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

It is thought that chewing increases the blood-flow to the brain, thereby improving memory.

source: PsyBlog