Boost Your Immune System – Eat Your Tea Leaves
WRITTEN BY OUR OFFICIAL SCIENCE STEEPER: ALLISON TANNIS, MSC RHN.
Boost Your Immune System – Eat Your Tea Leaves
Eat your tea leaves if you’re looking for a way to support your immune system, says scientific evidence. Even greater than the benefits of drinking green tea, eating the tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) offers larger amounts of key nutrients your body needs to defend itself from viruses and other invaders.
How Do Tea Leaves Boost Immunity?
Evidence suggests you should eat tea leaves as a simple, whole food approach to encourage a better immune response. A number of compounds in tea leaves help the immune system – in a variety of different ways, from increasing the number of immune cells to helping them better communicate with each other.
5 Reasons You Should Eat Tea Leaves for Your Immune System
Scientific evidence shows tea leaves are particularly helpful to the human immune system. Here are 5 compounds found in tea leaves worth knowing more about:
1. EGCG: Anti-inflammatory
Polyphenols, particularly EGCG found in the highest concentrations in flash frozen tea leaves have positive effects on the immune system. Scientists from Oregon State University report that a compound in green tea, a polyphenol called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), increases the number of regulatory T cells, in the process improving immune function.
2. Flavonoids: Prevent Colds
Considered a group of polyphenols, flavonoids have an impressive beneficial impact on immune function: it is linked with disease prevention, says research. More than 50 studies found flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and almost 400 studies suggest these compounds found in tea leaves may be particularly helpful in upper respiratory tract infections (caused by viruses such as the common cold or flu). Ingesting more flavonoids may decrease your need to take sick days by 40%, suggests the data. Better yet, eating flavonoid-rich foods, such as tea leaves, may prevent premature aging and deterioration of brain function, according to scientific evidence.
3. Tannins: Anti-microbial
Another type of polyphenol found in tea leaves, tannins are well-known to support the immune system. Tannins boost the growth of some beneficial microbes in the gut, such as Lactobacillus. These helpful microbes release antimicrobials when tannins are present. That’s helpful in the gut, which hosts opportunistic pathogens that can cause inflammation and disease. Another way tannins help boost immunity in the gut by encouraging junctions between cells lining the gut to tighten up, enhancing this protective barrier.
4. Theobromine: Immunomodulatory
Evidence suggests theobromine may boost the immune system by modifying the composition of lymphocytes in lymphoid tissue, and influencing antibody concentrations. Best known for its presence in chocolate, professed with the ability to boost your mood, theobromine is also found in tea leaves.
5. Zinc: Coordinates the Attack
Called the gatekeeper of the immune system, since the 1960s scientists have known that when a body lacks enough zinc the immune system falters. That’s because immune cells need zinc to send signals or messages to each other, helping them mount an effective response.
Can Tea Prevent COVID?
With no known cure to SARs-CoV-2, vaccines offer the best protection against severe illness. Masks, frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing are everyday practices that can help reduce the risk of infection. Supporting your immune system with whole foods could offer additional support. Researchers have been looking into the potential role tea leaf polyphenols play in the management of COVID-19. It is helpful against other viruses, including influenza. EGCG has been found to interfere with how respiratory viruses multiply and cause infection in the body. It’s likely thanks to EGCG’s ability to bind to viral proteins. Interestingly, in a laboratory study, catechins from tea leaves inactivated SARS-CoV-2. With abilities to beneficially support the immune response and reduce inflammation (a major problem with COVID infections), polyphenols found in tea leaves, particularly EGCG, may be a simple whole food way to offer the body support. Here’s more science about tea and COVID-19.
Where Can You Get Edible Tea Leaves?
In your freezer! Hand-picked, fresh tea leaves and stems are immediately flash frozen to create Millennia Tea Superfood Cubes and Chopped Tea Leaves. Laboratory studies show eating Millennia Tea Leaves offers 15x more EGCG than drinking tea made from dried green tea.
Find it near you…
Induction of regulatory T-cells by green tea polyphenol EGCG. Immunology Letters 2011 Sep;139(1-2);7-13.
A comprehensive review of the potential use of green tea polyphenols in the management of COVID-19. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2021 Dec.
Flavonoids and immune function in humans: a systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2015;55(3):383-95.
Effect of flavonoids on upper respiratory tract infections and immune function: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Adv Nutr 2016 May 16;7(3):488-97.
Flavonoid-rich foods (FRF): a promising nutraceutical approach against lifespan-shortening diseases. Iran J Basic Med Sci 2020 Feb; 23(2): 140-153.
Zinc is the gatekeeper of immune function. Nutrients 2017 Dec;9(12):1286.