Free radicals are one of the reasons that we age, because they are the body’s internal oxidizers. They carry out the Second Law of Thermodynamics inside our bodies. The Second Law says that all natural things are in a constant state of decay, mainly from oxidative pressures.
To remind everyone of exactly what a free radical does inside your body, think of a piece of uncovered, unprotected metal sitting out in the open. Everyday it oxidizes a little more until finally it’s covered with rust (completely oxidized)—unless it has protection. You don’t see it oxidizing, but it’s happening—every day! That’s exactly what’s going on inside your body, unless you have protection with natural antioxidants that you receive in the foods and beverages you eat, or from supplementation.
Wrinkles, gray hair, loss of hair, loose and sagging skin, skin spots (sometimes called liver spots), browning of the skin, a poor color, anemia, lack of energy, sore joints and muscles, varicose veins, and loss of memory, are all signs of internal aging brought about for the most part by free radicals.
So naturally, we want to search out and put in our bodies as many antioxidants as possible, not to stop the entire oxidative process, because that’s impossible, but to slow it down so that we’ll age slowly and gracefully.
We all know that tea (yes, regular old black tea that you get in a restaurant) contains antioxidants—polyphenols called catechins—that hundreds of studies have shown to be as powerful as other well-established antioxidants such as vitamins C and E at protecting proteins and DNA inside our bodies from oxidative damage brought about by free radicals. So tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants.
Hereafter follows a list of studies I’ve collected over the years showing the health benefits of drinking tea.
In a study conducted in Shanghai, China researchers worked with a group of over eighteen-thousand men, divided into two groups of heavy and non-tea drinkers. After allowing for other factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and carotenes (natural chemicals found in carrots, spinach, and other vegetables and fruits) they found dramatic differences between the two groups.
They measured the levels in each participant of certain chemicals, called polyphenols, that are present in tea. They also checked for levels of several chemicals produced when polyphenols breakdown in the body. Polyphenols included epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin (EC), and are well-known among food researchers as powerful protectors from cancer and heart disease.
Their results showed that the heavy tea drinkers had 70 percent fewer incidences of gastric and esophageal cancer than their teatotaler counterparts. They established that the presence of the polyphenol EGC in the urine was associated with a lower risk for these cancers.
There are a number of different kinds of polyphenols that have cancer-fighting powers, and are found in unsweetened teas, both black and green; but remember this: sugar or sugar substitutes destroy the ability of polyphenols to do their job!! You destroy the health benefits of tea when you put sugar or sugar substitutes in it!! In fact, you turn it from a positive into a negative inside your body!!
Other studies indicate that tea slows the process of atherosclerosis and strengthens blood vessels, thins the blood, and lowers blood pressure.
In one study, researchers found that women age 55 or older who drank as little as a cup or two of black tea a day, were 54 percent less likely to have severe atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke, than those who did not. The more tea they drank, the less their risk, according to this study published in a 2000 issue of the “Archives of Internal Medicine.”
In Japan researchers found that cholesterol levels of subjects were inversely related to the consumption of green tea. The compounds in tea actually help heal the walls of the arteries from oxidative damage, thus requiring the liver to produce less cholesterol to seal and heal them!
Researchers in China also found that tea helped to decrease the amount of cholesterol in the artery walls, because it helped heal the linings of the arteries. It even helped break down clots that had already formed.
A Norwegian study published in the January 2001 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed that as tea consumption levels went up, heart disease went down.
Other studies of tea drinkers suggest they have fewer heart attack rates than comparable sets of people who don’t drink tea. For example, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston published a case-control study in the “American Journal of Epidemiology,” showing that people who drank at least one cup of tea a day had a 44% lower risk of heart attack.
Studies also show that flavonoids, antioxidants found in tea, also protect against cancer. And the July 1998 issue of the “American Journal of Epidemiology” published a study of more than 35,000 post menopausal women that showed those who drank at least two cups of black tea a day were 40 percent less likely to develop urinary cancer and 68 percent less likely to develop cancer in the digestive tract than women who did not drink tea.
Other research shows that tea helps in the fight against cancers of the stomach, bladder, esophagus, and the prostate. A study in China even concluded that smokers who drink tea have a lower incidence of lung cancer.
The powerful compounds in tea help stop free radicals from damaging DNA, and assists the body in zapping cancerous cells in their tracks. These compounds also help prevent uncontrolled cell growth, slowing cancer development. Certain flavonoids even have the ability to destroy cancer cells without harming the surrounding healthy cells.
Listen to this study!!!!!! When Japanese researchers combined cancer medications with flavonoids, the treatment with natural flavonoids was twenty times more effective than cancer drugs, according to a study published in the March 1998 issue of the “Japanese Journal of Cancer Research.” And folks, natural flavonoids don’t poison you and cause you to swell by filling you with toxins as cancer drugs do.
Be warned, however, that flavonoids have not been found in any bottled teas!! Also, steeping tea too long leeches these wonderful compounds out.
Amazingly, tea is also good for your bones. A study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (April 2000) involved over 1200 women living in Cambridge, England. Among the women were over 1100 tea drinkers and 120 non-tea drinkers, all between the ages of 65 and 76. Each woman had her bone mineral density (BMD) measured to assess bone strength in the spine and the hip area where breaks most often occur in aging women. The researchers found that the female tea drinkers had significantly greater bone density measurements than the non-tea drinkers.
In a study called “Stroke Prevention: A Healthy Brain Diet,” the results state that people who drank five or more cups of tea daily reduced their risk of stroke by more than 60% compared to those who drink less than three cups per day. It also reported that tea is good for your brain, helps keep you alert, and is a catalyst for the brain to produce certain chemicals that aid you with your memory and thinking.
The Problem of Caffeine
Caffeine is addictive when ingested from certain beverages, but this is evidently not true with tea. Millions of Americans wake up every morning craving the caffeine jolt they receive from coffee. Why does this not occur with tea? Why is the caffeine in tea not addictive as it is in coffee?
Because the caffeine in coffee is so addictive they are already experiencing withdrawal by the time they wake. Moreover, heavy coffee drinkers find it harder to get the deep rim sleep needed to repair the body’s tissues from the day’s labors. During deep sleep, body-healers come out and repair the body’s tissues, but this does not occur with heavy coffee drinkers, because the caffeine keeps them from experiencing deep sleep. Have you ever noticed how wrinkled serious coffee drinkers are?
Tea, however, does not affect people in this negative way. The strongest of teas has less than one-third the caffeine content of coffee. And most teas have only about fifteen percent of the caffeine that coffee has. There are other reasons that tea is not addictive, too.
For some reason, caffeine from tea is released more slowly and gently into the body’s system; thus, no withdrawal, no jolt, and no jitters. And no addiction! This slow release also does not keep you from getting the deep rim sleep you need for those wonderful body-healers to come out and do their work.
Be warned also that coffee is hazardous to your health, mainly because of the process the beans go through. Neither does coffee have any positive nutrients in it to aid your body, and heavy coffee consumption has been shown to cause certain cancers.
A last note on tea is that when you have an infection, or a cold or the flu, you should stop drinking black tea until you’re better. Black tea is simply fermented green tea, and anything fermented will not help you in ridding the body of infections or viruses. Green tea will, though.
Most herbal teas don’t contain any antioxidants. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t compounds in them that might help you in some way. For example, an herbal tea called Pau d’Arco is one of the most powerful cancer fighters known—indeed, it is not only a cancer preventer, but also cures several forms of cancer. Dr. Daniel B. Mowry states in his published article on Pau d’Arco that it has produced clinical anti-cancer effects without any negative side effects. Even terminal cancer patients have reported amazing results with this powerful herbal tea.
But for the most part, unless you are really up on herbal teas, it’s best to stick to green or black tea, whichever one you prefer. Both are proven powerful protectors; most herbal teas have no studies at all behind the claims their manufacturers make. And a cardinal rule in life is, never take the information about the product from the product salesman.
Enjoy your tea for the benefit of your health—of course, always—without White Death (or its substitutes) added.
For your health: The Artful Dodger