Making the most of your cuppa

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The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is make myself a cup of tea, sit in my favourite chair and spend some time with God. It is like sitting with a very close friend, pouring out your concerns and plans, and receiving His peace and strength for the day.

Research shows that prayer gives us increased mental and even physical health. The Bible tells us that praying and reading His word protects our heart. From a nutritionists point of view it is also interesting that a cup of tea is also good for the heart – protecting it with antioxidants (which helps reduce the risk of arthrosclerosis), reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and reducing depression.

After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Different teas undergo different manufacturing processes that affect their properties. Green tea is unfermented, black tea is fermented. There is also an Asian, white tea which is growing in popularity and this is processed similarly to green tea but uses younger tea leaves.

A recent research trial looked at the effect of some commercial teas on type 2 diabetes. In 2011, 366 million people suffered from this condition and this number is expected to increase to 552 million people by 2020. Tea has an inhibitory effect on two key enzymes, alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase. The inhibition of these enzymes by the tea delays the breakdown of polysaccharides (sugar molecules) in the stomach and slows down glucose absorption into the blood stream. This reduces the amount of glucose in the blood and prevents hyperglycaemia which is indicative of type 2 diabetes and causes the complications associated with this condition. This could be significantly important to the management of this disease.

Green tea is becoming more popular in the West and has been found to have a similar affect to ordinary black breakfast tea, but with beneficial higher antioxidant and polyphenol levels. It also has a significantly higher vitamin c content and helps improve iron absorption.

One of the main components of green tea is a polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate, found in all teas in varying amounts. This has multiple health benefits as it has anti stress, anti cancer, anti cholesterol and anti bacterial properties. Green tea has also been found to have a positive effect on depression. A recent study showed that drinking 400mg of green tea, four times a day, significantly reduced depression. Symptoms associated with depression such as reduced pleasure, altered motivation and disturbed reward learning were improved after 5 weeks of drinking the green tea.
So if you are feeling a bit blue, it may be worth having a cuppa with your prayer and quiet time.

As ever, there is a health warning, as too much green tea can cause distress to your liver. Keep to the four cups a day and you will be consuming safe amounts.

1)Oboh, Ganiya; Omodesola o Ogunruku et al (2014); “Interaction of some commercial teas with Carbohydrate Metabolising Enzymes Linked with Type 2 Diabetes: A dietary intervention in the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Advances in Preventative Medicine 2014; 534082

2)Qiangye Zhang, Hongchao Yang, et al (2013) “Effect of green tea on reward learning in healthy individuals:a randomised, double blind placebo-controlled pitol study” Nutr J 12:84

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