It fair to say I’m a health-focused person. I have a sheet above my desk listing my top six life priorities. Sitting at spot #1 is my health – above my children (#2) and my business (#3).
I know that my brain works better, I’m more productive and I'm a better parent when I prioritise my wellbeing.
My days are filled with deliberate activities designed to improve my health. I'm sure it won't be a surprise to learn that drinking tea is one of these.
There are many reasons why tea is one of my health choices. One of the most compelling is how the phytochemicals in tea improve the way my brain and body works.
There have been thousands of studies on tea – many of them focused on green tea – which connect tea to good health. Here are the common findings:
• Tea improves brain function.
• Tea reduces inflammation – the root cause of so many health issues and diseases.
• Tea helps fight cancer.
• Tea protects our cardiovascular system.
I follow a number of the world’s leading health experts who focus on improving wellbeing. Here are their views about how tea can improve our health.
Dr Mark Hyman, U.S. functional medicine doctor
Dr Hyman believes food is medicine and that it is the number one tool for creating vibrant health. He is a big advocate for tea, and regularly drinks green tea himself.
On instagram, Dr Hyman says, “Tea is a super beverage that contains potent phenolic compounds that fight cancer and protect our cardiovascular system. Green tea is in a class by itself, rich in catechins, some of the most powerful disease-fighting phytonutrients found in the plant kingdom.” (1)
In his recent book, ‘Young Forever, The Secrets to Living your Longest, Healthiest life’, Dr Hyman mentions tea - more than 18 times! - as one of the ways to increase health span and longevity (2). Check out the notes section below to see his take on the detailed health benefits of tea.
Dr Hyman is a great person to follow if you want to maximise your health.
Dr Daniel Amen, U.S. physician and psychiatrist
Dr Amen is the founder of Amen Clinics, which has the world’s largest database of brain scans for psychiatry.
In his recent interview with Jay Shetty, Dr Amen says the brain needs targeted nutrients every day to boost health and happiness.
“Theanine from green tea helps you focus and calms you at the same time. Yes, green tea does have a little bit of caffeine, but, why green tea is better than coffee, is that the theanine helps calm down the effects of the caffeine. Theanine by itself is just magical for so many of my patients. It's great for calm, clarify and focus.” (3)
In his book, Change your Brain, Change your Life, Dr Amen lists green tea as one of his 52 ‘brain superfoods’. He reports that green tea supports mood, reduces anxiety, improves brain function and reduces inflammation. (4)
Increasing your daily tea intake
If you want to drink more tea and make the most of its brain and body boosting properties:
- find a high quality tea supplier - loose leaf will almost always be better quality (and therefore be more nutritious) than tea bags,
- get the right tea tools, so preparing your tea is easy and enjoyable
- decide on the specific moments in your day that are best suited to tea.
While there are many benefits of drinking tea, its is only one part of a healthy lifestyle; you don’t want to rely on tea alone to improve your wellbeing.
If you’re interested in reading more about how tea is good for you, check out my other posts:
Notes and citations:
(1) @drmarkhyman Instagram post 22 August 2022, accesssed 18/08/2023
(2) In Dr Hyman's book, ‘Young Forever, here’s what he says about tea:
• contains the antioxidant EGCG (Epigallocatechingallate) which reduces oxidative stress in the body (pg 118), reduces inflammation (pg 237) lowers cardiovascular and cancer risk, protects the brain (pg 121) and activates longevity pathways (pg 151)
• is a ‘super detoxifier’ as it binds to heavy metals in our body and supports chelation (pg 112),
• feeds the ‘good gut bug’ Akkermansia Muciniphila that lives in our microbiome (page 108)
• can help activate autophagy (our body's process of reusing old and damaged cell parts), which is essential for our cells to survive and function (pg 50)
In the book, Dr Hyman says the phytonutrient group called flavanols in black, green, oolong and white tea (pg 227):
• have antioxidant, anti-cancer benefits
• support the repair of DNA damage
• have cardiovascular benefits
Source: Hyman, Mark (2023), Young Forever, Great Britain, Print
(3) Jay Shetty Podcast, episode: DO THIS Everyday To Completely Heal Your BODY & MIND | Dr. Daniel Amen & Jay Shetty. Accessed 25/07/2023
(4) In his book, Change your Brain, Change your Life, Dr Amen lists green tea as one of his 52 ‘brain superfoods’ (pg 484). In the book, he reports that green tea:
• supports mood (pg 100),
• reduces anxiety and inducing calm due the L-theanine content (pg 214)
• optimises the performance of your pre-frontal cortex (the part of our brains that controls our ability to analyse, organise, make judgements, plan and execute those plans) (pg 25)
• boosts the happy brain hormone dopamine (pg 254)
• reduces inflammation (which negatively affects brain function) (pg 452).
Side note: While Dr Amen focuses on L-theanine in green tea, L-theanine is found in all tea (it is particularly abundant in matcha)
Source: Amen, Dr Daniel (2016), Change your Brain, Change your Life - Revised and expanded, Harmony Books New York, e-book.
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