Green tea eases ageing

There is a lot to be said for the pleasures of a quiet cup of tea; it can be a break in a hectic work day, it can be a soothing restorative after an unpleasant altercation with the neighbours over whose cat defecated on whose ornamental pottery, it can dissolve the leather from your tongue after one or two too many red wines the night before, and it can provide a moment for quiet contemplation. That being said, you hardly need another reason to have a cup of tea but if you do, maybe the fact that it will help fight the ageing process might be the impetus you need.

The really wonderful thing about tea is that even though it is good for you, it is also a drink of choice. In fact, tea is second only to water as a drink consumed around the world. It is made from the end leaves picked from the Camellia sinensis plant and variations in its processing and place of growing give rise to up to 3000 varieties from this one plant. Green tea for instance is not fermented whereas black tea is fermented. Although all teas provide antioxidants to some degree it is the lack of fermentation that probably leads to green tea being such a rich antioxidant source.

The antioxidant qualities of tea mean that is useful in preventing a range of diseases including heart disease. In fact researchers noted that green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diseases that cause disability as you age like osteoporosis, dementia, and stroke. To determine whether this might translate to less actual disability people who drink green tea as they age, the researchers gave out questionnaires to 14 000 people in 2006. All of the people in the study were at least 65 years old. They matched lifestyle factors against whether the people were experiencing age-related disability.

The results showed that thirteen per cent of people who consumed less than one cup of green tea daily had functional disability. By contrast, only seven per cent of people who consumed five cups of green tea per day or more had disability. In other words not drinking green tea means you are twice as likely to develop disability.

This does not prove that green tea causes a reduction in disability but it does show a strong link. The researchers noted that green tea drinkers also tend to eat more fruit and vegetables, consume more fish, are less likely to smoke, and have higher levels of education. It might be then that green tea is a marker for a certain lifestyle rather than a complete cause however, green tea does have actions that might make it likely to reduce ageing related disability.

For instance, as well as the effects on the heart and bones mentioned earlier, green tea has been shown to maintain muscle leg strength in elderly females.

So go ahead Polly, put the kettle on, you might brew up a few years of better ageing.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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