Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits

Originally Published on Webmd.com  By Julie Edgar

Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits

From green tea to hibiscus, from white tea to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies.

Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West, who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas.

Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.

“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

Although a lot of questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you need to drink, nutritionists agree any tea is good tea. Still, they prefer brewed teas over bottled to avoid the extra calories and sweeteners.

Here’s a primer to get you started.

Health Benefits of Tea: Green, Black, and White Tea

Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

 

Julie Edgar

Julie Edgar is a freelance journalist who specializes in health, business, and legal issues reporting. She writes news, features, and columns on subjects ranging from rheumatoid arthritis in the workplace to intelligent dog breeds to thorny lawsuits to corporate environmental initiatives. She is a frequent contributor to WebMD, Courthousenews.com, and AnnArbor.com. Before going freelance, Edgar worked as a news reporter and editor. She lives in the Detroit area with her husband and two sons.

 

16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea

Originally Published on OrganicFacts.net  By May 31, 2018

16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea

Kombucha is a fermented, lightly fizzy sweetened tea with health benefits like aiding in digestion, promoting weight loss, facilitating detoxification, lowering cholesterol levels, boosting heart health, controlling diabetes, and protecting the liver. It also aids in reducing arthritis pain and providing relief from gastric ulcers.
What is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea is a refreshing beverage obtained by the fermentation of sweetened tea with a symbiotic association of acetic acid, bacteria, and specific yeast cultures. Believed to have originated in northeast China during the third century BCE, this miraculous tea has been valued for its unique, refreshing taste and impressive range of medicinal benefits. It is famously known as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ in ancient Chinese literature. Other names for kombucha include Manchurian mushroom tea, Russian tea, Kargasok tea, spumonto, tea beer, tea cider, and tea kvass.

It has various flavors depending on whether it’s made from black or green tea and tastes somewhere in the middle of apple cider and champagne.

Kombucha Nutrition Facts

Kombucha contains a range of yeast and bacterial species with polyphenols, amino acids, and organic acids. Post the completion of the fermentation process, the tea develops into a nutritional powerhouse with the richness of minerals like sodium, numerous beneficial enzymes, a range of vitamins such as vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and many healthful chemical constituents such as gluconic acid, oxalic acid, acetic acid, glucuronic acid, usnic acid, fructose, and lactic acid.
Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of kombucha.

Detoxifies the Body

Kombucha contains large amounts of organic acids like glucuronic acid and powerful antioxidants which help in shielding the body from oxidative damage. The antioxidants present in it look out for free radicals and neutralize their effects, thereby repairing and protecting the body from chronic diseases and inflammation. [1] Furthermore, it prevents the harmful effects of pollution caused by the petroleum products along with plastics, pesticides, resins, and heavy metals.

Improves Digestion

Kombucha is fermented with a live colony of bacteria and yeast, so it works as a probiotic by sustaining gut health and provides relief from various abdominal disorders including chronic constipation and diarrhea. The digestive enzymes present in it enhance the effects of glucuronic acid and aid in the breakdown of proteins and saccharides, making the digestive system more efficient.

Promotes Weight Loss

Kombucha tea boosts metabolism. A high metabolic rate helps in weight loss as it makes you feel more energized, and more likely to engage in regular physical exercise. Also, the sugar and calorie content in this fermented tea is very little, five times lesser than a fizzy drink.

Protects Liver

Kombucha possesses the remarkable ability to detoxify the body. It contains a powerful detoxifier glucuronic acid which binds the toxins by entering the liver and eliminates them via kidneys. This helps in reducing the burden on the pancreas and keeps the liver healthy. A research study has shown that this tea helps in restoring the levels of glutathione and is remarkably effective in reducing hepatotoxicity. [2] A comparative study conducted on black tea, kombucha tea, and enzyme-processed black tea has proven the superiority of kombucha tea in providing hepatic protection against toxicity due to the antioxidants in it. [3]

Maintains Cholesterol Levels

Another superb benefit offered by kombucha tea is the maintenance of healthy levels of cholesterol. [4] Research studies have provided qualitative evidence regarding the anti-lipidemic properties of this tea which help in reducing the absorption of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and elevating the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. [5] [6]

Prevents Heart Diseases

Studies show that drinking kombucha can be beneficial for the heart as it regulates cholesterol as well as lowers triglyceride levels in the blood. [7]

Controls Diabetes

Kombucha is a natural therapeutic agent which helps in suppressing the factors that cause diabetic conditions. A comparative study involving black tea and kombucha has revealed that kombucha has better inhibiting properties as compared to black tea and aids in a superior deterrence of the elevated blood glucose levels. [5] The study has also suggested that the tea exerts healing action on the pancreas of diabetic individuals and helps in guarding their liver and kidney functions by reducing the concentration of urea and other unfavorable activities occurring in the plasma membrane.

16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea_2

Prevents Cancer

The antioxidant-rich tea possesses anti-microbial properties and prevents conditions such as cancer as it contributes productively to maintaining cellular health and strong immune defense. Studies have shown that glucaric acid present in it is quite effective in the prevention of various types of cancer including pancreatic, colon, and breast cancer. [8] As stated earlier, the detoxification qualities of the drink also contribute to the prevention of different cancers.

Relieves Arthritis Pain

Kombucha contains glucosamines which are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of all types of arthritis. Glucosamine present in it stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid, which helps in the maintenance of cartilage structure and provides relief from the pain associated with arthritis. [9] Hyaluronic acid aids in reducing the free radical damage, lubrication, and elasticity of the joints by empowering the connective tissue to bind the moisture.

Enhances Mood

Kombucha has a variety of amino acids, methylxanthine alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and B vitamins (including B1, B6, B9, and B12), which are needed for a healthy nervous system. This helps in inhibiting the release of stress hormone cortisol, battling depression, balancing mood, and enhancing concentration. Regular consumption of this tea can also help you overcome sleep disorders. Depression is one of the symptoms of a leaky gut. Drinking the tea can rewire the gut-brain axis and heal gut inflammation to promote mental health.

Boosts Immunity

Kombucha is rich in numerous antioxidants that strengthen the immune defense and boost the energy levels of the body. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of this tea help in fighting various bacterial and viral infections. A study conducted on this tea has validated the fact that intake of this drink may help in boosting the immune system. [10]

Anti-microbial Effects

Kombucha tea has anti-microbial properties which may prove effective against a variety of pathogens. An investigative research has revealed that apart from acetic acid, it contains other anti-microbial components, which even at neutral values of pH, provide protection against a range of microorganisms including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella enteriditis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogens, and Helicobacter pylori. [11]

Treats Asthma

The theophylline in kombucha is well known as a bronchodilator, which helps control chronic asthma due to its anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and bronchoprotective effects.

Heals Gastric Ulcers

Kombucha provides relief from discomfort caused by gastric ulcerations. Studies conducted have revealed that antioxidants and phenols present in this tea help in protecting the mucin content in the gastric tissues and decrease the secretion of excess gastric acids. [12] The same study also suggested that the efficacy of the tea in healing gastric ulcers is at par with the commercially available drug, omeprazole.

Improves Cellular Health

Kombucha helps in maintaining cellular health which is vital for the healthy functioning of the body. A study performed on its tea has shown the protective effects against induced cytotoxicity and demonstrated positive results with respect to the factors implicated in the reduction of cellular toxins. [13]

Other Uses

Finally, kombucha drink has a revitalizing effect which helps retain the natural color of the hair, keeps the skin firm and improves the feeling of overall health and vigor. [14] It is an effective wound healer, which is also known to improve eyesight. [15] Apart from a plethora of health benefits mentioned above, kombucha culture can also be utilized to manufacture artificial leather. [16]

How to Prepare Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea is prepared by mixing the colony of bacteria and yeast (called SCOBY, which is an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) into sugar and tea, which is followed by fermentation in suitable and sterile conditions.
While sometimes referred as kombucha mushroom, there is no mushroom associated with kombucha. The SCOBY is also called the kombucha mushroom or Mother. This live yeast present in the beverage provides it an active life which carries on even after transferring it into the storage containers. [17] The culture includes Candida stellata, Zygosaccharomyces baili, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeasts.
After fermentation, the resultant fluid is a healthy beverage containing a wealth of vitamins, vinegar, and many powerful components.

Side Effects of Kombucha Tea

Although kombucha has been valued as a phenomenal healer, brewing the tea under non-sterile conditions can cause contamination and spoilage which can be extremely harmful. [18]

  • Ceramic pots for brewing: Usage of ceramic pots during the brewing process of the kombucha tea can raise the risk of lead poisoning. [18] The tea, while brewing, has the potential to elute lead from the glaze coating used in the ceramic pots making it unfit for consumption.
  • Gastrointestinal toxicity: Another side effect of kombucha tea is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can cause the onset of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and headaches. [19]
  • Lactic acidosis: Consumption of this tea can result in lactic acidosis in some individuals which can further lead to severe circumstances. [20]
  • Suppressed immune system: While kombucha can activate the immune system, it is not suitable for those on immunosuppressant medication.

Prior to considering kombucha for therapeutic usage, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional to better understand its effects.