Can Drinking Green Tea Help Your Cells Stay Young?

An exciting new study shows that drinking three or more cups of tea each day could slow down the cell aging process.

Do you drink lots of tea? If so, your cells may actually be younger than your non-tea drinking neighbor – at least according to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. It appears that consumption of tea could have a significant impact on the longevity of cells.

Does Drinking Lots of Tea Prolong the Life of Cells?: The Study

Researchers from the Chinese University in Hong Kong looked at telomere lengths on the chromosomes of almost 2,000 Chinese men and women. Telomeres are a sequence of DNA found at the end of chromosomes; and telomere length is thought to be a marker for cell aging. As cells replicate and the cell becomes older, telomeres start to shorten, so that older cells usually have shorter telomeres. Once the telomeres maximally shorten and disappear, the cell is destroyed. In this study, researchers found that Chinese men and women who drank three or more cups of tea each day had significantly longer telomere length than those who drank less than a cup. If telomere length is, indeed, a marker for cell aging, drinking lots of tea could help to slow down the biological clock.

Why Would Drinking Lots of Tea Decrease Cell Aging?

Researchers believe this protective effect is related to the antioxidant properties of tea. Telomeres are susceptible to the damaging effects of oxidative stress, and the natural antioxidants present in tea may offset this damage and prolong the life of the cell. Green and white teas are both good sources of catechins, compounds which have antioxidant properties. Black teas are fermented and have relatively low catechin concentrations. This isn’t the first time the catechins have been associated with a slow down in the aging process. A study conducted in mice showed that mice who were given regular exercise and fed catechins appeared to have a slower rate of aging.

Does Drinking Black Tea Give the Same Effect as Green or White Tea?

This particular study failed to differentiate between types of teas, but looked at tea drinking as a whole. It would appear that green or white tea would have more benefits due to their higher catechin content, unless there’s another component in tea that’s slowing down the aging of telomeres.

How Can You Use This Information?

Drinking lots of tea may very well be a benefit when it comes to aging, as long as the caffeine isn’t an issue. Some people with high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid caffeinated beverages. The benefits of drinking tea are only starting to be described, but preliminary studies look encouraging. In terms of health benefits, green or white tea may be better choices due to their higher levels of catechins, although the polysaccharides in black tea appear to be beneficial for controlling blood sugar in diabetics. Green tea and white teas are generally lower in caffeine and may be better choices for those who are caffeine sensitive. The bottom line? Drinking three or more glasses of tea per day may be a smart way to protect cells as well as overall health.

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