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Exclusive to the Express, Dr Carrie Ruxton – a dietician for the TAP – explains the advantages of sipping on a hot cup of tea throughout the day. Just how many cups are the optimum amount?
The TAP report suggests black tea, green tea, oolong and pu-erh tea can contribute to a healthy gut microbiota.
This in turn can help prevent gut dysbiosis, whereby gut bacteria composition becomes detrimental.
Gut dysbiosis can increase a person’s risk of life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
How can tea help prevent diseases?
“The secret lies in tea’s rich array of polyphenols – natural compounds found in the tea plant,” explained Dr Ruxton.
She added: “Polyphenols rebalance our gut microbiota towards more favourable strains including Lactobacillus, Faecalibacteria and Bacteroides.”
Dr Ruxton cited research that shows tea polyphenols – through their role in a “gut-friendly diet” – “could help protect against cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and inflammatory disorders”.
Thus, tea drinking is associated with a lower risk of dementia, obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
How many daily cups of tea is recommended?
“A 10-day study where participants drank four to five cups of green tea daily showed increased levels of Bifiobacterium, a healthy bacteria strain,” said Dr Ruxton.
“Studies further proved that green and black tea polyphenols increased Bacteriodetes phyla and reduced Firmicutes,” she continued.
This “could be beneficial for controlling body fat”, whereas green tea consumption was “linked to a reduced obesity risk”.
She added: “Green, oolong, black and pu-erh teas also increased bacterial diversity, important for strengthening immunity.”
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“Four to five cups a day is certainly not a hard tea quota to hit,” commented Dr Ruxton.
“What’s promising is that a change in diet can cause a change in our gut bacteria within just one to two days, as oppose to waiting weeks or months.
“So, there’s never been a better time to implement healthy changes (considering the pandemic).”
Tea is also said to have “anti-microbial effects in the upper gastrointestinal tract, namely the mouth, oesophagus, and stomach”.
This can help to “prevent dental decay and bad breath”, certified Dr Ruxton.
While the TAP report clearly demonstrates how tea plays a role in a gut-friendly diet, there are other factors too.
Eating fewer processed foods – and opting for more foods and beverages rich in plant fibres, polyphenols and natural probiotics – is key.
This can help to “shift gut microbiota towards more favourable species”.
Unfavourable (and harmful) “pathogenic species” include “E. coli and Enterobacter cloacae”.
The TAP report stated a polyphenol-rich diet could decrease the number of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Laboratory studies have also demonstrated that tea (particularly green tea) can counterbalance “negative gut bacteria changes caused by high-fat diets”.
“It’s important to note that this research is emerging and more research is needed overall,” concluded Dr Ruxton.
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