New report shows how a simple cuppa keeps us happy and healthy from childhood to old age
You may have inherited your gran’s eyes and your dad’s nose but now a new report, commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), has found that, while families share a love of tea, the health benefits differ across the generations.
The report, Tea Health and Wellness Through the Ages – incorporating a new nationwide poll of British adults – found similar tea drinking habits across the generations with six in ten young adults and eight in ten older people drinking tea regularly. Traditional black tea was the firm favourite, but herbal and green teas are more popular with the young.
But although a love of tea connects the generations, younger people are drinking it their own way, with more 16–29-year-olds trying out different teas and using plant milks than the over 40s. Younger adults are also more likely to steep, than dunk, their teabags ensuring that they maximise the health benefits from the tea polyphenols – natural plant compounds found in black and green teas.
A striking difference across the age ranges is the benefits that regular tea drinking is likely to bring. Co-author of the report and registered dietitian from TAP – www.teaadvisorypanel.com - Dr Carrie Ruxton, comments: “The beneficial compounds found naturally in tea seem to deliver different benefits to different age groups – according to the scientific evidence. Fluoride benefits dental health in children, while the combination of caffeine and L-theanine – an amino acid – help to hone the concentration skills of teenagers sitting exams and young adults in the workplace. Adults trying to manage their weight can benefit from the polyphenols found in green tea which boost fat burning, according to controlled studies.
“For middle-aged adults, regular tea drinking brings benefits to metabolic and heart health by lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This is believed to be due to tea polyphenols which help to support vascular health and have anti-inflammatory effects. In the oldest adults, drinking tea has been linked with slower cognitive decline – potentially due to antioxidant benefits”.
Dental expert, Professor Robin Seymour adds: “Tea is also a safe, helpful drink in pregnancy. Not only is tea a source of natural fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel, but antibacterial polyphenols in tea suppress harmful oral bacteria which cause cavities. Further down the gut, tea can boost the more friendly species of bacteria – called a prebiotic effect – which is beneficial for digestive comfort. Pregnant women sometimes experience constipation which is helped by extra fibre, fluid and gentle exercise. The prebiotic and hydrating effects of tea can contribute to this”.
However, the TAP poll found that around two thirds of adults were not aware of these clinically-proven health benefits of black and green teas – instead focusing on the emotional aspects of mood, comfort and wellness.
81% say drinking tea puts them in a good mood
76% drink tea to get them going first thing in the morning
44% say a cuppa makes them feel calm
36% think tea helps them to tackle a busy day
34% say tea helps them to de-stress.
Co-author and GP from TAP, Dr Gill Jenkins, comments: “While it’s great that tea is widely recognised as a way to promote wellbeing and positive mood, it would be great to educate people about the distinct health benefits. These are well proven across hundreds of studies showing that tea is an essential part of healthy diets across the ages.
“Looking at optimal tea intakes, the evidence supports an intake of around 3 to 4 cups a day. However, the TAP poll found that only 35 per cent of younger adults were achieving this, while half drank only 1 to 2 cups day. In addition, four in ten of younger adults were joining online work meetings without keeping any fluid handy – which can lead to mild dehydration and ‘Zoom fatigue’. Older adults were more likely to achieve ideal intakes – with 70-80% enjoying 3 to 4 cups a day”.