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Tea, Diet, and Way of Life

Wan Ling in Fujian

For many of us, the word "Diet" evokes clear, often strong associations. It reminds us of an expanding waistline and things we can't or shouldn't eat. It has not always been so.

"Diet" originally meant something akin to "Way of living life." In this sense, "Diet" can extend beyond food and drink. It could include a person's attitudes, thoughts, and behaviours.

Returning to this larger, bigger meaning of "Diet" breathes new life into the word. "Diet" doesn't have to be question of: "What food and drink do you have to control and limit in your life?" but instead becomes a more positive question of: "How do you want to live a healthy life?"

Ways that tea can be included into a better way of life.

First, links between tea and exercise are being explored. Bodybuilding and weight training groups have been talking about the boost that green tea can give to their workouts. While these benefits have not been well substantiated, initial studies are showing how green tea catechins combined with exercise may help slow age-related decline in exercise endurance. If nothing else, teas offer flavorful and calorie-free hydration during workouts. Jasmine teas and tieguanyin teas especially hit the spot.

As diet relates to all of life's activities, food (and tea) become part of the larger whole of the good life. As Hippocrates suggested, it becomes possible for food to be our medicine.

The Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health reviewed findings published across the world on the positive effects of tea. In particular, tea consumption was associated with improvements in:
Weight Management
Cancer Prevention / Protection
Cognitive Function
Heart Health
Bone Health

An expanded perspective on the word "Diet" can lead to new approaches to using tea for mental health. Tea has long been known to contain theanine, a chemical that increases a sense of focused concentration. For centuries, monks combined tea drinking with their meditation practices. The combination of caffeine and theanine gave them a greater level of alert concentration. As meditation creates chemical reactions in the body and helps discipline our behaviours, tea can be part of a healthy meditation practice aimed at improving our way of life.

"Diet" need not be a dreaded word, but a reminder that we have the opportunity to shape our thoughts and actions in a way to create improvements in our lives. Whether making changes to our physical activities, food intake, or our outlook on life, tea can be a part of a better way of living.

Green tea extract improves running endurance in mice by stimulating lipid utilization during exercise.


Takatoshi Murase, Satoshi Haramizu, Akira Shimotoyodome, Ichiro Tokimitsu, Tadashi Hase. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative PhysiologyPublished 1 June 2006Vol. 290no. 6,R1550-R1556DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00752.2005.

Tea catechin ingestion combined with habitual exercise suppresses the ageing-associated decline in physical performance in senescence-accelerated mice.
Takatoshi Murase, Satoshi Haramizu, Noriyasu Ota, Tadashi Hase. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative PhysiologyPublished 1 July 2008Vol. 295no. 1,R281-R289DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00880.2007


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