You might think you know which foods are beneficial to your health - but did you know that drinking a cuppa could be good for you?
Good for your gut
A study, commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), showed clear differences in the types of bacteria that thrived in the gut after regularly drinking tea.
The research, published in the Nutrients Journal, showed that drinking tea saw the balance change towards healthier strains, and away from those linked with infection and obesity.
Is tea good for you?
The study explains that tea is a rich source of plant polyphenols (naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate, and wine), and is one of the largest sources of these in the British diet.
Tea polyphenols are not absorbed in the upper part of the digestive tract, which means they interact with gut bacteria living in the large intestine.
Healthier strains of gut bacteria then feed on the polyphenols and can change them into other compounds, which the body can then absorb and use. These so-called ‘metabolites’ then have the potential to have clinical benefits on the body.
Among the benefits is the reduction in the risk of obesity, which several studies have previously linked to having gut bacteria levels that are out of balance.
Natural health chemist, co-author and adviser from TAP, Dr Tim Bond explains, “We are now much more aware that our gut bacteria have a massive impact on health including influencing whether we develop obesity, diabetes or bowel diseases.
“Everyone knows that fibre or probiotics can help change gut bacteria towards more favourable strains so it was a pleasant surprise to discover through this research that a simple cup of tea can also be effective.”
How many cups of tea could help my gut?
Dr Bond goes on, “The studies we evaluated seemed to be most successful when participants drank 4-5 cups of tea daily, with significant increases seen for bifidobacteria – a type of bacteria that is thought to help improve our immune defences by crowding out potentially harmful pathogens.”
Co-author, nutritionist and adviser to the TAP, Dr Emma Derbyshire adds, “A number of studies have shown that tea drinking could be associated with weight loss and it now seems plausible that the effects could, in part, be due to changes in gut bacteria.”