Tea – A healthy choice

cropped-indiantea.jpgThe world is racing ahead with lifestyles becoming fast and stressful. In such a situation, health has become an issue of global concern. Tea since its discovery, comes as a gift to mankind. A refreshing drink that it is, it can be clubbed under health drinks too. Dr. Ramachandra Madivala, throws light on the medicinal properties of tea.

Spell out few words on the importance of tea to the world.

Dr. Ramchandra Madivala (RM): Since tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, tea’s potential health benefits has important implications on human health. It has made number of researchers probe deeper into the various mechanisms by which tea flavonoids function in the body. An ongoing scientific exploration points that tea is an important contributor to the overall health.

What is the medical importance of the green tea?

RM: According to research, there are two elements due to which malignancy occurs. They are the “initiator” and the “promotor” that damage DNA in the cell and activate cancer leading to a malignancy. The tannin and catechin in green tea reduces both the “initiator” and “promotor” levels. Researches suggest that the consumption of 5-6 cups of green tea per day significantly lowers the rate of cancer.

Since, green tea is not popular in India as compared to black or cream tea, how beneficial is black tea or cream tea in fighting cancer?

RM: Studies have shown that flavonoids present in the tea are potential cancer preventive components. It is reasonable to conclude that drinking both green and black tea reduce the risk of developing cancer helping to maintain overall health and well-being. Although the scientific evidence for this is growing, it is not yet conclusive and still remains a promising area for future research.

Does green tea carry any other medicinal properties, other than that already mentioned?

RM: Japanese scientists have found that green tea reduces sugar in the urine. Apart from this, there are evidences that, green tea prevents the production of active oxygen and lipid peroxide in the body which are responsible for aging process. Green tea contains antioxidants 20 times stronger than Vitamin E. Green tea has a strong effect on the influenza virus. The anti-viral capability of green tea may also have some beneficial effect on managing the AIDS virus. What are the benefits of drinking tea on oral health? RM: The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) extracts fluoride from the soil, which accumulates in its leaves. Therefore tea is a very rich source of fluoride and dry tea leaves may contain upto 4-400 ppm fluoride. This results in one cup of tea containing between 0.3mg and 0.5mg of fluoride. This has strong binding ability to enamel particles on the tooth surface that prevents dental decay.

Consumption of tea is good for the health of smokers. How true is this statement?

RM: According to reports I have seen, consuming 30-32 ounce of tea daily over a period of time decrease the risk of DNA damage caused by smoking. Cancer is usually caused by oxidative damage resulting from cigarette smoking. Researchers claim that, tea polyphenols are powerful antioxidants and induce phase-2 detoxification enzymes, resulting in the body’s ability to quench more oxidative DNA damage, which inturn reduce the risk of cancer.

Comment on the cardiovascular advantages of drinking tea.

RM: In this regard I would like to quote a research result of clinical trial, which has recently come out. It showed that five servings of black tea per day reduced Low Density Lipoprotien or bad cholesterol by 11.1 percent and total cholesterol by 6.5 percent in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults. The study is the first of its kind to examine the effect of tea on blood lipids while all other components of the diet were kept constant. The reason for this is believed to be tea’s potential ability to limit cholesterol absorption in the intestines.