Many people are surprised to learn that all tea is derived from the same plant species, and that what are often called “herbal teas,” if they do not include that plant, are in fact not teas at all. Tea is the infusion of water and the dried leaves of the evergreen plant Camellia sinensis. How […]
A few weeks ago, I came across an article from The Atlantic called “New Reasons to Drink More Tea.” Though I didn’t really think I needed more reasons to enjoy my daily green tea, I read on just to see how science was catching up to what us tea devotees already know: A cup or two of tea a day not only keeps the doctor away, but it also keeps us in tune with the joyous rhythms of life.
The article says that scientific studies are, in fact, starting to show all kinds of health benefits from drinking a few cups of green tea—and in some cases black tea—a day. Benefits range from weight loss to heart health to increases in bone and muscle strength. Plus, as Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University, points out in the article, “It’s really important to remember that tea is a plant.” He explains that the flavonoids extracted from tea leaves are similar to the beneficial phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. So if we can’t eat the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables, he suggests, why not count tea as one or two servings?
When I read this, I instantly thought of my 16-year-old daughter. Though she eats a basically sound diet thanks to the fact that we only have quality foods in the house, I have to say that she isn’t exactly a huge fan of kale. However, she loves starting her day with a cup of green tea.
I love tea. I almost always start my day with a pot of classic white or green tea. Alongside my water bottle, tea and herbal infusions are my steady companions throughout the day.
During summer, my favorite way to enjoy my afternoon tea is when it’s infused with the bold flavors and wonderful aroma of fresh (or even dried) herbs. A few years ago (or has it been a decade already?) I was both happy and stunned to discover that major bottlers were beginning to produce iced teas. I was thrilled that folks would now have a choice for a convenient beverage other than the high-fructose-ladened sodas that had been filling coolers for years. I was also duly impressed as I watched new varieties of iced teas, sweetened with honey or organic sugar, appear on shelves.
What stunned me was just how many there were and how high their price tag. Being a longtime maker of iced tea, I’m aware that, water aside, tea is the most economical beverage we can consume: A few tea or herb leaves can make several delicious cups. If you are someone who regularly purchases bottled teas for anywhere from $1.50–$2.25 per bottle, you will be thrilled with how much you can save by brewing and storing your own, at only about .10–30 per cup (depending on whether you use bulk tea, a tea bag, or herbs from your garden and which, if any, sweetener you choose).
In this edition of Ask the Expert, Kripalu’s Lead Nutritionist, Annie B. Kay, answers your questions. An integrative dietitian and a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Annie is the author of the book Every Bite is Divine.
What would you recommend as a good diet for someone who is vegan and has IBS?
I invite those with IBS to try the experiment of eating gluten free as a starting point. Nutritional science research suggests that up to 40 percent of people have some level of difficulty digesting gluten, and if you have an IBS diagnosis, that risk skyrockets. Try it for 30 days. And don’t think of it as, I’m never going to be able to eat my favorite foods again. Think of it as collecting data. Even if you do find you’re sensitive to gluten, most people can tolerate a little bit of gluten.
You may not notice the full benefits for as long as six months, but you may notice a significant difference before then. Then you can determine whether eating gluten free is a lifestyle choice for you, or if you want to try reintroducing gluten. About half of those with IBS who go gluten free find it’s a miracle cure.
What kinds of tea have the most beneficial properties?