Sunday, 10 October 2010

Cup of tea anyone?

I was at a seminar on diagnostic testing this weekend and one of the
speakers mentioned that their results showed a much higher incidence of slow
metabolisms for British individuals than for those in other countries. No
conclusive reason for this had been identified but the speaker speculated
that this may be down to the fact that we drink so much tea!

It's certainly true that tea is a large part of British tradition and seems
to be served up in response to every situation ... just woke up, just got
home, bored at work, it's 11 o'clock, it's 5 0'clock, have guests over, time
for a gossip, to cheer someone up, .. it's quite easy to have five or six
cups a day.

So what's so wrong with something us Brits have been doing for centuries and
why could it affect our metabolisms?

Well the tea itself isn't the problem - it's the caffeine that's harmful.

Caffeine improves concentration and energy levels in the short-term by
provoking the body's stress response, however repeating this through regular
caffeine intake, in the long-run leads to reduced energy levels and
fluctuating blood sugar levels. Drinking caffeine also encourages the
excretion of certain vitamins and minerals from the body, including B
vitamins which are vital for energy production, so all this can combine in
the long run to lower energy levels and a slower metabolism. 

Aside from the effects on metabolism, caffeine also encourages the leaching
of calcium from the bones into the bloodstream, weakening bones and
potentially leading to osteoporosis, whilst the raised blood levels of
calcium can lead to calcium deposits in joints contributing to

Despite the downsides tea drinking is often an ingrained part of daily life
and quite hard to give up. I come from a tea drinking household and found
myself unable to break the habit of regular cups of tea, so quit caffeine by
switching to herbal/caffeine free varieties rather than missing out on tea
altogether. My cupboards are stocked with a whole host of herbal blends and
when I go on holiday I always pack some tea bags so I can enjoy a hot drink.
These days most restaurants and cafes have a good range of herbal teas and I
find that most people have some chamomile or peppermint lurking in the back
of the cupboard. Even The Ritz offers Rooibos (redbush) caffeine free tea
with it's very traditional British afternoon tea so it's totally possible to
enjoy the British tea tradition without the downsides.

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