Over the last few hundred years, black tea has become inextricably associated with the English. Tea is also a popular drink in the Indian subcontinent and China where it naturally grows, but England's role in promoting it is undeniable. The traditional English teatime may be less widespread than it was fifty years ago, but most people continue to view tea as a social drink rather than a substance with potential medical benefits. It comes as a surprise to look back a few hundred years and see how the early tea publicists stressed the curative value of tea drinking. Now the wheel has turned a full circle with this health-conscious generation again interested in tea's health benefits.
One of the key arguments of the early advocates of tea drinking was its value as a non-alcoholic thirst satisfied. People often drank beer or gin as a safer alternative to polluted water supplies in these times, but excessive consumption of alcohol brought its own health and social problems. Even though water is safe to drink in most western countries today, black tea continues to offer an attractive and completely safe drink with no need to warn people about drinking and driving!
Since so many are accustomed to taking a drink of tea with friends or neighbors, it is worth drawing attention to the valuable social role tea continues to play. An invitation to "come over for a cup of tea" provides a convenient excuse to initiate a new acquaintance. Meetings over social media can never replace social tea drinking in this context. In factories and offices in the UK and other English-speaking countries, the tea break provides a much-appreciated escape from work time stresses, and it encourages camaraderie.
Because tea drinking is such a relaxing activity a connection between tea and heart health is not so surprising, and medical research provides some scientific backing to this hypothesis. Experts quote one academic study that found those who drank more than three cups of black tea per day cut their risk of strokes by over a fifth in comparison with those who drank no tea at all. It does not follow from this that drinking an excessive amount of tea would cut the risks even more, but it does indicate that 3 or 4 cups a day is a good idea.
Doctors are concerned about the increase in the numbers of people with diabetes in western countries. They understand that eating too many fatty and fried foods (junk foods) is one of the factors contributing to this increase. They have also noticed variations between countries in the rate of increase. In 2012, Swiss researchers discovered that diabetes levels were lower in the UK and Ireland than in comparable countries. This research suggests that the lesser incidence of diabetes is linked to the heavy consumption of black tea in these countries.
A number of studies indicate that tea drinking is good for dental health. In particular, researchers have discovered that substances in black tea reduce the risks of bacterial damage to teeth and the building up of plague. A team from the University of Illinois found out that tea drinkers also suffer less from the bacteria that produce bad breath. However, heavy tea drinkers get a brown teeth staining so they need to get their teeth cleaned more often.
Many tea drinkers choose to take a drink with a meal since they feel it aids digestion, and scientific research backs up this supposition. For example, researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center investigated the effects of tea drinking after fast food meals, and they found it helped the digestive processes. The Chinese apparently possessed this knowledge thousands of years ago; this was one of the benefits of tea drinking that led to the habit becoming so popular in their society.
Even those who aim to live the healthiest of lifestyles have certain levels of toxicity in their bodies due to environmental pollutions. Healthy eating experts usually recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in their meals for their high antioxidant value. However, studies show that black tea contains a much higher amount of antioxidants. It should work that much faster detoxifying free radicals in the body and thus limit the damage that these compounds cause to cells.
The body's inbuilt immune system provides a natural first defense against infection and disease. Everyone agrees that following a healthy diet and taking regular exercise strengthens this system and reduces the risks of illness. Scientists note that the alkylamine antigens found in black tea boost the immune system's performance. The tea also brings into the body substances known as tannins. In these ways, tea drinking enhances natural resistance to flu and other types of viruses.
Some medical experts think that the antioxidants found in black tea might lower the risk of developing certain cancers. In particular, they think there is some support for the thesis that women who often drink black tea are less likely to get ovarian cancer. However, this matter needs more thorough research to confirm this opinion and to disprove other medical researchers who argue drinking too much tea could increase breast cancer risks.
Claims that tea drinkers are less likely than others to develop arthritis are worth further investigation. The proponents of this theory base their argument on the fact that black tea contains a good amount of phytochemicals. They believe that these chemicals contribute to the building of stronger bone structures, and they can reduce the risks of joint inflammations.
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