Can tea really shelter you from the deadly depression? Lets find out.
The increasing academic and clinical interest in how lifestyle factors, typically associated with physical health, may also impact mental health, have prompted researchers to look more closely into the effects of tea-drinking on psychological well-being.
Currently, a third of people with anxiety and depression never find an effective therapy, which is why scientists are starting to explore new, more integrated forms of treatment that look at the interconnectivity between the brain and the gut.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says more and more research supports the importance of healthy living, also encompassing tea-drinking, as a way to ward off depression.
“In recent years, the role of nutrition in mental health and preventative medicine, has prompted explorations into the effects of tea, especially herbal tea, on mental health.
“Researchers have found that frequent tea consumption has a strong linear relationship with reduced rates of depression. One study determined that for every three cups of tea consumed a day, the relative risk of depression decreased by 37%. It’s likely that the healthy compounds in tea stimulate a positive response in the gut and brain, which improves mood. Similarly, the act of making tea is in and of itself relaxing, which allows us a mental and emotional breather.”
Scientists from Stellenbosch University found that Rooibos tea contains two rare antioxidants, namely, aspalathin and nothofagin, which interferes with the production of cortisol – a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal gland.
Tests were carried out in a lab on adrenal cells that were stimulated to mimic a stress response similar to which occurs in humans. They concluded that Rooibos tea does lower the production of cortisol and by doing so, also lowers the body’s response to stress.
Du Toit says Rooibos is rich in polyphenols – compounds found in plants, including flavonoids and phenolic acid that benefit the body and fights disease. It also helps to widen blood vessels, which in turn reduces blood pressure and anxiety.
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