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Healthy Hot Drinks

Hot Tea is good for you“Drink eight glasses of water every day.” Even though there really isn’t good science behind this recommendation, the idea behind it is important - stay well-hydrated to stay healthy. We all know it’s important to drink plenty of fluids during the summer, but adequate hydration knows no seasonal boundaries – you need to stay well-hydrated year round. While an ice cold beverage may seem the likeliest way to quench thirst, hot beverages also provide fluid that contributes to being well-hydrated.

Followers of yourwellness know that I am a big fan of drinking hot tea, not only because it tastes good but also because it’s good for us. All tea comes from the same plant - Camellia sinensis (herbal tea is actually not tea in the strictest sense – herb teas are classified as tisanes because they come from plants other than Camellia sinensis). Different forms of tea arise out of different degrees of processing, more specifically, different degrees of oxidation. In order from least oxidized to most the variety of teas include white, green, oolong and black. The majority of research on the health benefits of tea drinking has focused on green tea and a specific compound it contains called epigallocatechin-gallate, or EGCG, which may help protect against certain forms of cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that drinking green tea supports healthy weight loss, too. All tea, however, has the potential to offer health benefits (and with practically no calories!).

Tea contains caffeine but much less so than a comparable cup of coffee
Tea contains caffeine but much less so than a comparable cup of coffee. Of the different kinds of tea it is white tea that contains the least amount of caffeine.

Decaffeinated teas are available, but be sure to read the label to see what type of process was used because some methods, especially those using the solvent ethyl acetate, also remove the majority of tea’s potentially healthy compounds. Effervescence is the preferred manner of decaffeinating tea because it retains tea’s health promoting effects.

If you like to add milk to your tea you might not be getting all the benefits possible, as milk proteins bind the healthy compounds in tea. On the other hand, adding lemon juice to your tea can increase the health benefits to you.

There are a wide variety of tisanes (herbal teas) to be enjoyed, many of which have a rich history of traditional medical use. For example, chamomile tea can help soothe a mildly upset stomach, and both chamomile and passionflower teas might make you sleepy before bedtime. Diners often enjoy peppermint tea after a meal, while others find ginger tea helpful when suffering with cold symptoms.

Of course there are many other good-tasting hot drinks available to us, including hot apple cider, hot cocoa and, of course, coffee! Hot tea, however, has the edge when it comes to enjoying a hot beverage that’s also good for you.

A few important points to keep in mind:
    1. Don’t drink hot water from the tap (it is more likely to contain contaminants from your water pipes than is cold tap water)
    2. Don’t use plastic cups when microwave heating your drinks (compounds from the plastic can leach into your beverage) – use microwave safe drink containers. Even Styrofoam appears to be better than plastic in this regard.
So stay warm this season with a nice cup of tea, and know that you’re likely doing your body good, too.

Be well.
Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **