Your Guide to Health Through Tea
(Tea Hacking to a Healthier You)
Body Hacking: Your Guide to Health Through Tea
- How has tea been historically used as a medicinal beverage
- What different health benefits can tea offer?
- The perfect healthy lifestyle, complemented with tea
Our health is possibly the most important aspect of our body and lives. Without good health, we may not be able to enjoy our life to the max and live comfortably. Daily, our bodies come under relentless assault from diseases, bacteria, strain, stress and tumult – despite this, we remain resilient and our immune system and other devices protect us from harm. We have a breaking point however and no one person is impervious to illness.
To combat illness, and to maximize our potential, we can strive to live a healthy lifestyle that enhances aspects of our body such as our immune system, and gives us a better chance of fighting diseases and staying fit and active. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow – neglecting your body, eating unhealthily and rarely exercising will ultimately damage your body and could cause serious health complications. On the flip side, if you eat a fantastic diet, exercise several times a week, and keep your brain active, there is no reason why you should not enjoy a long and fruitful life.
Tea is a healthy beverage that can complement and improve your health. The different varieties of tea contain a myriad of chemicals and compounds that prove beneficial for your body. By drinking tea regularly, you can imbibe your body with a cocktail of potent nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, and protect yourself from disease etc. This guide aims to inform you about the various health benefits of tea, and how it can improve various aspects of your life.
How has tea been historically used as a medicinal beverage?
Tea has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years – It is not a new discovery, and the healthy properties of this leaf have been known by many different cultures and people. Today, our understanding of tea has improved ten-fold and we now understand what different chemicals and compounds actually benefit our health. For example, we know that tea contains Polyphenols and Catechins which are both powerful compounds that can help fight disease. When considering tea as a healthy beverage, it is important to learn from our past and understand how it has been used in ancient times as a remedy.
Ancient China - The birthplace of medicinal tea
China is considered to be the birthplace of tea. Legend has it that the Emperor Shennong in 2737 BC was parched and required a drink of water – he traditionally had his water boiled to remove any impurities. On this particular occasion, a tea leaf blew into his cup and unnoticed, he drank the brew – The taste was favorable and thus tea was born! During the Han Dynasty in 206 BC to 220 AD records show that tea was first used as a medicinal drink and it was later that it was more commonly drunk as a recreational beverage. Many literary works and historical records such as “The Classic of Tea” by Lu Yu show the ancient medicinal use of tea throughout China.
Ancient India - The Camellia Sinensis Assamica
India is also a nation that has been known to use tea for medicinal purpose for hundreds of years. Several varieties of tea plant grow in India including the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica which is the plant used to produce the popular Assam Black Tea. Although records are scarce from ancient periods, it is known that various tribes and villages historically used tea for medicinal remedies. Records date back to 750 BC which show that tea was used by the Indian people and by Buddhist Monks for thousands of years. As the popularity of tea grew in India, it became a true cultural drink and now a huge portion of the population enjoys tea for both its medicinal purposes and as a recreational drink.
South America - Yerba and the Guarani people
Yerba Mate tea is another type of tea that originates from South America and has a long history of use as a medicinal remedy. As with the other types of tea, Yerba was first used in South America by the Guarani tribe who are indigenous to the continent. These indigenous people thrived during early history and they cultivated the Yerba plant to use its leaf to create healthy remedies. As Europeans explored South America, they came into contact with the Guarani people and noted their use of the native tea leaves.
Modern use and worldwide adoption
As our medical understanding improved, so did our understanding of the healthy properties of tea. Due to this increased understanding, different types of tea were developed that had a new range of health benefits. Teas such as Oolong, Pu-erh, Chai and Herbal have all been created that can improve our health greatly – We have learned from our past and made tea into one of the healthiest drinks available.
What different health benefits can tea offer?
The health benefits of tea are varied – Each different type of tea will offer something slightly different; due to this fact, it is advised to research your tea before making a purchase to see exactly how it can benefit your health. The following list is some of the common health benefits that many types of tea exhibit.
Protection against cardiovascular diseases
Many types of tea such as Black Tea, Green Tea, and Oolong Tea can improve our cardiovascular system and reduce our risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. Tea is a potent antioxidant that can help protect our cells from damage and improve the resistance and function of our circulatory system. Furthermore, some types of tea can actually reduce our blood pressure which can also contribute to a healthier heart.
Protection against cancer
Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind and it affects a large number of our population at some point during their lives. Cancer involves malign cells that cause damage to our body and eventually weaken our immune system. Green Tea, White Tea, and Oolong tea are all types of tea that can help prevent cancer – This is due to their concentration of Polyphenols. Polyphenols can prohibit the growth of free radical cells which are often a primary cause of cancer. Furthermore, the compound called EGCG has antioxidant properties which can also protect our cells and DNA from damage.
Improved immune system
Our immune system is our primary form of defense against illness and disease. The white blood cells present in our body help fight disease and create antibodies. Furthermore, our immune system will repair damaged cells and things such as cuts and bruises. Tea is a primary beverage that can boost our immune system and protect our body from harm. Substances present in Black Tea for example such as L-Theanine and Catechins can invoke action from our immune system and improve its performance. Furthermore, the nutrients and minerals present in most types of tea will provide our immune system with a regular top up.
Improved weight loss and metabolism
Weight control is a primary source of poor health in today’s modern world. We have access to a huge range of unhealthy foods that are full of fat and sugar and salt. Furthermore, new technologies and items like smartphones and tablets mean that people are exercising less. Some types of tea can contribute to weight loss and improve our metabolism which can help burn fat and get rid of excess calories. Oolong Tea, for example, can help reduce cholesterol and enhance the fat burning process in our body. Furthermore, various Herbal Teas can improve our digestive system (as you will see below) which can help our bodies process food.
Improved quality of skin, hair, and teeth
Our skin, hair, and teeth are important parts of our body – Our skin holds all our organs in (haha) and protects us from sun damage, while our hair protects our head, and our teeth allow us to chew and digest food. Some types of tea can improve the quality of our hair, teeth, and skin and protect them from further damage. Green Tea, in particular, contains tannins which can flush out the toxins in our skin and mouth and reduce the number of bacteria present. Furthermore, the nutrients present in Green Tea can strengthen your hair and help reduce split ends. Additionally, some teas can help prohibit the hormone that is responsible for hair loss.
Reduced stress, anxiety, and improved sleep
To help our body rejuvenate, it is important to have a sufficient amount of sleep each day. Without sleep, our bodies will become strained and tired and our overall performance and ability may be reduced. Furthermore, stress and anxiety are two mental conditions that can have debilitating consequences on our body. Herbal Teas are renowned for their healthy properties and many can reduce our stress levels and aid our sleep. Peppermint Tea, for example, has a beautiful aroma that can induce a level of calm in our mind and body. Alternatively, Chamomile Tea can reduce anxiety and treat insomnia.
Improved digestive system
Our digestive system is highly important for several different reasons – Firstly it allows the processing of food. Secondly, it enables our body to receive the beneficial compounds and nutrients present in our food, and filter out the waste through our kidneys. Many types of tea can improve our digestive system and aid the processing of food. Herbal teas are fantastic for this purpose. Ginger Tea can stimulate our digestive system and help us digest heavy meals and relieve bloating and gas. Chamomile alternatively can relieve stomach cramps and reduce the effects of nausea.
Provide a level form of energy release for your body
Our body requires energy – Without sufficient levels of energy, we may become tired, feel lackluster, and find it difficult to perform strenuous tasks. Energy can be found in various foods and drink and many types of tea offer a great form of slow energy release. Coffee is also a drink that provides us with a boost, but the caffeine is short lived and the energy burst is short and sharp – not long lasting. Some types of tea, however, such as the South American Yerba Mate provides a steady and balanced energy release that will benefit our body for a greater period of time.
A great form of hydration
As our body is made up of approximately 80% water; it stands to reason that hydration is an important aspect of our personal health. We must regularly hydrate our body and drink fluids to maintain a correct balance. Many people drink water and this is indeed one of the best forms of hydration, but tea weighs in as a close second. Tea is not only a fantastic form of hydration, but it is also tasty so can act as a viable alternative to water. Practically all types of tea provide hydration to our body, and contrary to popular belief, they do not leave you dehydrated!
A strong source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals
Finally, our body also needs a complex cocktail of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins – These compounds help our body perform at its optimum capability. Different nutrients aid our bodies in different ways – for example, calcium helps improve the strength and resistance of our bones, while Potassium can help break down carbohydrates and build muscle strength. Some examples of beneficial compounds found in tea include Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Fluoride, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Polyphenols, Catechins, and Iron. By drinking tea on a regular basis, you will ensure that your body receives these compounds and benefits accordingly.
While these are the common health benefits associated with tea, this list is not exhaustive and there are many other benefits to be found. Best practice is to simply do your research and find out how a certain tea can benefit your health before purchasing it. Other unique examples of the health benefits of tea include Green Tea as a treatment for acne and Black tea to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Consider using tea as more than just a drink
Tea can be used in a variety of different ways to improve your personal health aside from simply drinking it. These simple remedies are fantastic ways that you can use tea for your own benefit:
As a face wash – Green Tea creates a wonderful face wash that can directly imbibe your skin with the healthy properties that it contains. Simply brew a solution of Green Tea as you usually would, allow it to cool, and then use cotton balls to apply it to your face. If you do this before you go to bed and leave the solution on your face (like a face mask), the Green Tea can soak into your skin overnight and you can simply remove it in the morning!
As a mouth rinse – Tea can also be used as a form of mouthwash to clear the bacteria from your mouth and improve your oral hygiene. Simply create a batch of Tea (Green Tea and White tea are particularly good choices), ensure it has steeped for a long period, and then swill the solution in your mouth after brushing your teeth. The healthy properties of tea will ensure that your oral health remains in tip top shape.
The perfect healthy lifestyle, complemented with tea
Now that you understand how the various types of tea can improve your health, it is important to also understand how to put this into the context of your wider lifestyle. Simply drinking tea will not solve all your problems – It is not a miracle medicine! Tea can only complement your personal health if you make the conscious effort to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
For example, someone who never exercised, ate takeaway foods every day, and drank alcohol on a regular basis would not magically improve their health by simply drinking two cups of Oolong Tea per day – They would need to make a whole lifestyle change and first cut out the alcohol and improve their diet. These 5 simple steps are ways that you can create a balanced lifestyle that should benefit you in future years to come, and your day to day life.
Step 1 - Healthy diet
A healthy diet is possibly the best way you can maintain a strong level of health. The food we eat has a direct impact on our body and can affect things such as weight management and our circulatory system. Furthermore, a poor diet can lead to complications such as diabetes and tooth loss. Ensure that you eat proper meals and refrain from eating regular take-always or ready meals as these items often have high salt content or are high in processed fats. Try to create a meal plan, and eat a hearty breakfast, a light meal at lunch, and a hearty meal in the evening – This will ensure your body gains the sustenance it needs throughout the day.
Step 2 - Exercise
Without exercise, it may be increasingly hard to burn excess fat, shift weight, and keep our muscles and joints healthy and supple. The more we exercise the stronger and more resilient our body becomes. Furthermore, exercise can help improve our cardiovascular system and increase the longevity of our heart. Additionally, for those suffering from excessive weight gain, exercise is one of the main methods of losing weight. When people consider exercise, they imagine that you need to attend the gym 5 times a week, or run a marathon every weekend – This is not necessarily the case! Even a simple walk around your local park or a short bike ride on a Saturday could make a huge difference.
Step 3 - Keep your brain active
As we grow older, our minds can often deteriorate, and we may find it harder to take on board new information. Mental problems can cause adverse effects on our personal health, therefore, it is important to keep your mind active and alert. To keep your brain active and fit, you can undertake a variety of different activities – You could read a book, complete crosswords or puzzles or even download a brain training app for your smartphone. Never pass up the opportunity to educate yourself or learn something new, and use your brain at every opportunity.
Step 4 - Keep stress to a minimum
Although stress is not a physical ailment, it can have physical effects – We can become tired, feel run down, and even experience hair and weight loss in severe cases. It is important to try and live a stress-free life and minimize or control the aspects of your life that induce stress and anxiety.
Step 5 - Drink Tea!
This can all be complemented with a healthy dose of tea! As you have previously learned, tea is a potent drink that can really give your body a boost. Consider drinking several cups of tea per day, and alternate which teas you drink to provide your body with different benefits – For example, you could drink some Green Tea in the morning, and then some Jasmine Herbal Tea before you go to sleep to ease your mind. When used in conjunction with a balanced lifestyle, tea truly can make a difference!
Hopefully, you will have learned a great deal from this guide – You should be wiser to the medicinal benefits of tea, and how it is much more than just a tasty and refreshing recreational beverage! The world of tea is an interesting one, and there is a huge range of different types to sample and benefit from. With your new-found knowledge, you can now make an informed decision and purchase a selection of tea to suit your lifestyle and health requirements.