5 types of tea that can support your immune system

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Most of us have had a hot cup of tea in hopes of easing a sore throat or warding off a cold.

The concept of tea as medicine is not new. “The Chinese have used this method for centuries to reduce disease and improve the immune system,” says Paulina Lee, RD, a Houston-based dietitian who uses Western medical practices and alternative and integrative therapies to help clients treat root causes of their health concerns.

Despite the widespread use of tea for immunity, there is little solid scientific evidence to prove that tea offers this type of benefit. Read on to find out what we found out about how tea may — or may not — keep your immune system on point.

How Tea Can Support Your Immune Health

Most of tea’s immune and general health benefits are linked to a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. “A significant amount of epidemiological data has shown that a diet high in polyphenols protects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” says Megan Meyer, PhD, senior director of science communications for Durham, Carolina. North. the International Food Information Council. His previous research examined the effects of nutritional antioxidants on the immune system’s response to influenza.

Dr. Meyer points to a review published in September 2017 in Nutrition Bulletin, who discovered that teas are particularly rich in polyphenols called flavonols. These plant chemicals have been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

When it comes to your immune system, antioxidants (like flavonols in tea) can help protect your body against free radicals generated by pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet rays, according to Harvard Health. Free radicals can have harmful effects on the body, including a weakened immune system, according to a previous review.

There are many varieties of tea that can support your immune health. Popular options like green, black, white, and oolong all come from the same evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “What sets them apart is how they’re prepared,” says Meyer. Differences in processing, geographic location, and plant varieties explain tea’s unique flavors and nutritional compositions, and may mean that some teas offer more immune benefits than others.

Herbal teas can also support your immune health. “Most herbal teas are known to have health-promoting qualities,” says Lee.

Herbal teas are not made from Camellia plant but from dried herbs, spices, roots, seeds, fruits or leaves of other plants, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Depending on the nutritional makeup of a given herb, some herbal teas may be better for your immune health than others.

More research on tea and immune health is needed

Although the research on tea and immune health looks promising, studies so far have not used humans or the population sizes are relatively small. Many studies also use tea in capsule or tablet form, which typically contain a much larger dose of plant compounds than you’ll find in a tea bag. Given these limitations, it is unclear if and how a cup of tea will benefit the immune health of a typical person. Larger studies in humans using brewed tea are needed.

That said, health experts generally agree: brewed tea without sweeteners is a healthy beverage choice. “I personally believe that teas are a great way to add functional foods and herbs to your diet on a daily basis,” says Lee. So drink! And if immune health is your primary concern, you might want to start with this list of the best teas for a healthy immune system, in order of strongest to weakest evidence.


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