We talk about our gut a lot in the UK. Having gut instincts and commonly used phrases such as “trust your gut” and “I can feel it in my gut” are part of our everyday vocabulary.
And it’s no wonder – our guts are the centre of our body’s universe. Recent research has found that bacteria in the gut can directly affect people’s mental state, however in traditional Chinese medicine, the link between the gut and, not only our mental state but all of the body’s organs, has been recognised for thousands of years…
So it’s no wonder that ancient China was also the birthplace of tea – According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water… ta da!
And tea has so much to answer for when it comes to our gut. In a good way. In a really, really good way.
The Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), whom I’ve been partnering with over the last few months, commissioned a research journal paper, which combines the results from 24 studies which investigated the impact of different teas on gut health… and the results showed clear differences in the types of bacteria that thrive in the gut after regular tea drinking… and, guess what. After regular tea drinking, gut health was better. (Did you guess?) The balance was in fact changed towards healthier strains and away from those linked with infection and even obesity… DRINKING TEA IS GOOD FOR THE GUT!
Natural health chemist, co-author and adviser from TAP, Dr Tim Bond explains:
“We are now much more aware that our gut bacteria have a massive impact on health and wellbeing.Everyone knows that fibre or probiotics can help change gut bacteria towards more favourable strains so it was a pleasant surprise to discover through this research that a simple cup of tea can also be effective.”
I’m going to get a bit sciency now…have you heard of polyphenols? Let me fill you in. Polyphenols are a category of compounds naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and TEA. According to Dr Tim Bond emerging science is showing that polyphenols could help keep our digestion fit as well as possibly helping reduce inflammation….so quite a lot of wellness benefits potentially.
Tea is PACKED FULL of these clever polyphenols and alongside apples and onions, are one of the largest sources in the British diet. Now, bear with me because the science continues… So, most Tea polyphenols reach the gut intact (some do get absorbed in the small intestine – after some enzymatic help) and hence can’t be absorbed by us. Instead they interact with our gut bacteria that live in the large intestine. Then, the healthier strains of gut bacteria feed on them (STAY WITH ME) and CHANGE THEM into other compounds called metabolites, which the body can then absorb and use. Let’s call this process, MAGIC.
It is these clever metabolites that have the power to deliver some health benefits potentially.
Honestly, this is the research paper that has got me reaching for the kettle the most. I find it totally fascinating how something as familiar and ritualistic as tea can have such a profound effect on our health and wellbeing.
Combine regular tea drinking with system five of Sophrology, which focusses on the lower abdominal area and lower digestive tract, and our guts will be singing for joy. Here’s an exercise to get you started…
Sophrology Exercise – Tame your Tummy Tension
Close your eyes, inhale through the nose and tense your upper tummy region for 3 seconds and then exhale as you release the tension in the 4th system. Visualise that as you exhale all the tension in your tummy and lower back melt away. Repeat a few time and the pause and focus your mind sensation of warmth, relaxation, energy flow or calm in your tummy.
This is the last in my current series of posts that I’ve written in partnership with The Tea Advisory Panel – you can see the first one here and the second, here. I’ve loved learning all about the power of tea and how it can be supported by the art of Sophrology… and learning about how tea can affect our guts has been totally fascinating…and actually, hugely eye opening.
Coming into the new year, my resolution will absolutely be to drink more tea (such a hardship! Yes, I intend to dunk a gingernut in each one) and take moments for myself throughout the day to stay mindful, calm and present…forever.
This post is sponsored by the Tea Advisory Panel