When we think of weight loss, it’s often related to a goal of improving body image. Losing weight can help improve self confidence, but there are many more benefits to dropping those extra pounds. Other benefits of losing extra weight are decreasing the risk of a variety of health risks, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To successfully lose and maintain weight loss the healthy way, lifestyle changes must be made, including a shift in what foods are consumed. Research has also shown that what you drink makes a significant difference in losing weight and also reducing some of the risks often tied to being overweight or obese. Cutting sugary, high fat, and high calorie drinks is one crucial step towards a healthier lifestyle. Research also shows that incorporating probiotic rich drinks (read our post on some options, here) and some teas can further help reduce health risks.
Teas have long been utilized as a method to improve health or prevent illness. One source shares that originating in China, where it was thought to have medicinal properties, tea’s history is closely intertwined with the history of botany and herbal medicine. “Legend states that the very first cup of tea was drunk in 2737BC by the Chinese emperor Shennong, believed to be the creator of Chinese medicine.” It wasn’t until later- in the sixth century- that tea was no longer seen as only a medicinal drink and became regularly consumed as a beverage. By that point, tea was prepared in a variety of ways, with other elements added, like onion, ginger, peppermint, and ginger, all believed to have unique, restorative properties. As trade and overseas exploration increased, tea and it’s benefits became popular, especially once it arrived in Europe.
Since that time, many studies have explored the benefits of tea, with researchers of one study saying, “The evidence supporting the health benefits of tea drinking grows stronger with each new study that is published in the scientific literature.” Depending on the tea variety, studies have shown that teas may boost your immune system, fight off inflammation, and even ward off cancer and heart disease. Researchers state that it is due to the polyphenols and other components found in tea that may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.
The newest research, which reviews 19 studies, shows that drinking at least four cups of black, green, or Oolong tea lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 17% over the span of a decade. The research, conducted by a team from China, involved more than one million adults across eight countries. The findings indicate that there’s less benefit associated with drinking fewer cups of tea. Just one to three cups per day only lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 4%, the results showed. The risk of developing diabetes went down by 1% for each additional daily cup.
Dr. Maki Inoue-Choi, a staff scientist at the National Cancer Institute who led the latest research explains, “[polyphenols] compounds may decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, and in turn that possibly lowers the risk of developing certain health conditions such as heart disease”. Sources share that the dominant polyphenols in green tea, catechins, may be particularly helpful in warding off disease by protecting cells from damage. When green tea leaves are fermented to make black tea, the catechins convert to theaflavins, another form of antioxidants. Inoue-Choi said that might explain why both green and black tea seem to confer health benefits. It might also explain why people need to drink lots of tea to see a significantly lower risk of disease or death.
Speak to your provider before incorporating tea into your routine. A large quantity of research has shown the benefit to health and the reduction of many health issues including prostate, lung, ovarian, and colorectal cancers, but some other studies have also shown some potential risk. For example one study, (read here) also found that drinking three cups of black tea per day was a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
There’s controversial data, some showing a reduced risk, others a worsening risk in those who drink black teas. But a number of case-control and cohort studies have shown that black tea has an anti-carcinogenic property against breast cancer. And, oolong tea has been shown to actually inhibit breast cancer cell’s proliferation, growth, and progression.
These conflicting results may be due to different types of tea that contain different kinds and concentrations of polyphenols, or may be related to methods of tea leaves manufacture and varying methods of processing tea among different countries. A linear but not significant dose-response association was found between black tea consumption and breast cancer risk. Based on the current evidence, black tea and green tea might not contribute significantly to breast cancer risk.
Reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is a crucial step for our country, where approximately 1 in 3 American adults have prediabetes. Most alarming is that 84% of those with prediabetes have no idea they have it, making it very likely that over time, it will develop into type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes also puts people at risk of heart disease and stroke, making it especially important that people approach prevention and mitigation well before prediabetes sets in and transitions to more serious health concerns.
When pursuing weight loss to improve wellness, shifting food and drink choices to healthier options should always be a part of the equation. The newest information shares that tea can be another tool in helping reduce health risks in tandem with dropping those pounds.