As a nation, we are known for our love of all-things-tea, and it’s estimated that in the UK we drink about 100 million cups a day. Now, that’s a lot of tea!
But did you know that tea, specifically black tea, can be beneficial for our digestive health? Studies have shown that it may improve the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. The polyphenols (a helpful nutrient) found in black tea promote the growth of good bacteria and reduce bad bacteria.
What is gut bacteria?
Our bodies contain trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Collectively, they are known as the microbiome. They exist on our skin and inside our intestines and they have a very important role in keeping us healthy. The microbiome contains many different species, some good and some bad. They all have a role in maintaining our health so it’s important to keep a healthy balance. Our gut flora is important for:
· Digestion and absorption
· Producing certain vitamins
· Producing feel-good brain chemicals
· Supporting our immune system
· Strengthening the physical defences of the gut wall
· Regulating inflammation
· Producing antimicrobial substances
· Helping our brain health
Studies have shown that black tea specifically increases a certain beneficial strain of gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium. Studies have shown, this particular strain may provide anti-inflammatory effects and provide protection from harmful bacteria. This species also helps to digest the carbs that we eat from our diet. They turn the carbohydrates into fuel for the beneficial bacteria in our guts, allowing them to flourish and keep us healthy.
So, the next time you sit down and put your feet up to enjoy a cup of your favourite black tea, you can do so knowing that you might well be helping your digestive system by supporting the good guys in your microbiome.