Monday, June 30, 2008

33 More Reasons to Drink Tea

Thanks to the good people of NursingDegree.Net for sending T&F a link to their latest article, the title of which is also the title of this post.

I appreciate the science behind why tea is good for us, but I advise that people first come to such conclusions on their own. For the thousands of years that we've existed as a species, we've been able to look at forests and savannas and figure out what we like to eat pretty well, and all without the help of the men in white coats. I'm sure you can manage to do the same at your local supermarket.

I also distrust such studies because they usually highlight only one of many reasons why a certain food is healthful. You'd have to live under a rock to not know that pomegranates are high in antioxidants, but that's not the only reason we chose to domesticate them back in the Fertile Crescent. Besides, you're probably not eating more pomegranates as a whole. If anything, you're buying things with pomegranate juice, or pomegranate derived antioxidants, and that means you're missing out on the whole package. Or worse, you're buying one of the many products made from pomegranates that are not even edible, like shampoo, or something called "body mist."

Another clue to the dubious quality of such claims is their short life. For instance, green tea was the pomegranate of 2000, and while it's still readily available in many forms, it's clearly been upstaged by the eerily omnipresent POM machine. But if you simply drink green tea, or many kinds of tea for that matter, you will no doubt notice the positive effect it has on your body. Thanks to the nurses for outlining the science behind this phenomenon, though you'll also find proof in observing your own body's reaction. And I'm not talking about a caffeine buzz -- there's something else going on here.

I first noticed the feeling some years ago while in the company of fellow T&F contributor Dave. I was then drinking green tea twice a day on the suggestion of my then "doctor," who was in fact a holistic practitioner who referred to himself as a biochemist. On this regiment, I came to realize that every time I drank green tea I would start smiling. Days after voicing my observation to Dave, we walked past a newspaper with a headline that said something like "Study Shows Green Tea Makes People Happy." Of course the market was immediately flooded not only with green tea but also with green tea face soaps and so forth.

The lesson I'd like you to take from this is threefold.

1. You have the power to tell when things are good for you. Scientists don't hold all the cards. Consult the scientific data, but only after you've looked to your own powers of perception.

2. When you do find a food that does something good for you, don't mist your body with it. Eat it.

3. Go right now and make yourself a cup of good quality green tea. Don't use boiling water or you'll burn the leaves and it will taste bitter. Take a sip. Look inward. Notice that you feel better. Then, and only then, click on this link and read about why it's so good for you:

My favorite reason? Number 17: "Tea Protects Your Smile."

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onigiri said...

I like the threefold you provided. When I can choose between orange and orange juice, I always pick the orange.

Aaron Kagan said...

How poetic!

Brendan said...

Such an important point you make here: listen to your own body. Despite my farmboy upbringing, I used to eat processed "food" with the best of them. My diet changed when I started getting heavy daily exercise. In a physically demanding environment, whatever I ate/drank would immediately be metabolized, and within a few hours it would be clear how nourishing it was. When I needed broccoli, I'd start craving broccoli. Our own metabolisms are much smarter than food scientists.

An example of this principle in action.

octopod said...

I like drinking tea all day because it keeps my hands warm at work, in an office kept at fat-men-in-suits temperatures.