Three herbal teas that could help slow the ageing process

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When it comes to staying healthy many of us are aware that our diet can have an impact. Certain foods can raise our risk of potentially dangerous conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, new research has shown that drinks can also have an impact.

A paper, published in Foods journal, states a case for drinking rooibos, hibiscus, and yerba mate teas.

It states that these drinks can reduce oxidative stress – an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body – which has been linked with ageing and age related conditions.

“Ageing is characterised by a temporal decline in physiological capacity, and oxidative stress is a hallmark of ageing and age-related disorders,” the study explains.

“Such an oxidative state is linked to a decrease in the effective mechanisms of cellular repair, the incidence of post-translational protein glycation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neurodegeneration, just to name some of the markers contributing to the establishment of age-related reduction-oxidation, or redox, imbalance.”

Although a natural process, ageing can be faster in some people due to free radical damage of body cells, inefficient cell repair, degeneration of brain cells and glycation – where body proteins become saturated with sugars.

These are then made worse by lifestyle factors, such as smoking, excess weight gain and unhealthy diets.

The paper continues: “Over the past few years, the mitigation of oxidative stress has gained much importance due to its implications on several modern diseases related to age progression, glycoxidation, and ageing.”

Rooibos tea is made from leaves found in South Africa and is also known as redbush or red tea.

As its name suggests, hibiscus tea comes from the hibiscus plant and originated in Africa.

Yerba mate tea comes from the yerba mate plant, a relative of the holly, and is most commonly consumed in South America.

All three can be found in health food stores in the UK and some supermarkets.

Flavonoids and alkaloid compounds, naturally found in rooibos as well as herbs and other plant-based foods, have “remarkable therapeutic properties”, according to the authors of the paper.

The study says: “It is well known that herbal teas such as hibiscus, rooibos, and yerba mate, are important sources of antioxidants, able to prevent some oxidation-related stresses.

“These plants produce several bioactive metabolites, have a pleasant taste, and a long-lasting history as safe foods.”

It concludes: “Rooibos, hibiscus, and yerba mate tisanes have been demonstrated to contribute positively to the reduction of oxidative stress, inhibition of glycoxidation, and promotion of neuronal oxidative protection, both in vitro (in a test tube) and in vivo (in a living organism).

“Investigating these plants has important market impacts.

“The associated health claims and industries may be encouraged by the appealing taste that these plants present, great market acceptance, and lower health risks due to their long use as foods.”

It comes after a previous Tea Advisory Panel review on rooibos tea, published in the Nutrition and Food Technology Journal, found that regular consumption of rooibos tea was linked to:

  • Heart health
  • Cholesterol reduction
  • Immune balance
  • Blood glucose control
  • Good bone health
  • Greater cognitive function
  • Anti-inflammatory effects.

The review adds: “Evidence for cardioprotective effects (especially lipid profile) looks promising, particularly as a potential adjunctive therapy.

“It is suggested that future research now builds on the other potential aspects of health including glycaemic, bone, liver and cognitive wellness enhancing effects that also appear to be emerging.”

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