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Tea Fights Bad Breath, Mouth Bacteria

Health Benefits of Tea Adding Up

By Jeanie Lerche Davis

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

on Tuesday, May 20, 2003

WebMD Medical News

May 20, 2003 -- A cup of tea warms the soul -- and freshens your breath, and even fights infections. Two new laboratory studies add to mounting evidence of the health benefits of tea.

In the first study, conducted at Pace University, green tea extracts were mixed with several different kinds of bacteria, including those that cause strep throat and tooth decay. The researchers found that green tea was effective at fighting bacteria by inhibiting their growth.

"Our research shows tea extracts can destroy the organism that causes disease," says lead researcher Milton Schiffenbauer, PhD, a microbiologist and biology professor at Pace University in New York City, in a news release.

In fact, the same study suggests that green tea boosts the effectiveness of toothpaste and mouthwash in fighting viruses. Toothpaste and mouthwash had very little virus-fighting effect when mixed with bacteria; however, when green tea extract was added, 99% to 100% of the bacteria disappeared.

What's responsible for the health benefits of tea? Teas contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect human cells from damage. Flavonids are a group of polyphenols that occur naturally in tea. It is suspected that high levels of these polyphenols in the body can fight viruses as well as cancer, including pancreas, colon, bladder, prostate, and breast cancer.

In the "bad breath" study, researchers combined black tea extracts with three species of bacteria (all linked with bad breath) in petri dishes for 48 hours. They compared the results with bacteria that sat alone.

In all cases, tea polyphenols inhibited the growth of bacteria by 30% and reduced the production of compounds that cause bad breath.

The study suggests that rinsing with black tea keeps plaque from forming and destroys acids that cause tooth decay.

"Besides inhibiting the growth of pathogens in the mouth, black tea and its polyphenols may benefit human oral health by suppressing the bad-smelling compounds that these pathogens produce," says lead researcher Christine D. Wu, PhD, professor of periodontics at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in a news release.

Both studies detailing health benefits of tea were presented at the annual American Society for Microbiology General Meeting held in Washington, D.C., this week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've read many studies that tell of the benefits of tea, good thing that I like it.
In fact, I had two cups of green tea today.
 

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You guys should see Chinese college kids----EVERYBODY carries a huge glass bottle (usually emptied instant coffee glass container) of whatever tea. We don't have soda machine but we have huge hot water pot in every campus building. During the break, you will see people stand in lines to fill up their tea glass. it's kind of funny to watch (I did that too
)
 

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I am glad to hear this since I drink about a gallon of tea per day. I found that tea is a better source of caffine for me since it doesn't upset my stomach like coffee. I recently discovered green tea with honey and it is my new favorite.
 

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tea! i drink insane, INSANE amounts of green tea. i'm a tea snob too, and will only buy the good loose leaf kind. i came back from China with a bunch of tins of green from a tea farm and almost wept the day i used the end of it, heh.

i fill up my nalgene (bit old waterbottle) with green and nurse it all day long. in addition to that i drink about 4-5 pots of green tea a day, give or take.

so yes, green is my favorite, but loose jasmine is a definite other favorite.

i recently spent 80 (yes, 80) dollars on good quality tea and my house at school is stocked to the max with tins. it's great.

i have other loose leaf and some bagged kinds too, but green is what i'm all about. and while i like Japanese green, i much prefer Chinese green.
 

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I generally drink at least 1 cup of green tea and 1 cup of black tea a day.

My desk at work is full of different boxes of Stash teas. People laugh b/c whenever somebody complains about an ailment of some kind, I usually rush over with a tea bag.
 

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Hah


I was just thinking about bringing a thermos of green tea to school every day. So I can have a nice lunch, with good tea (especially now that it's winter). Instead of that crap tea they sell at the vending machines. That stuff is yucky.
 

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I'm a big tea drinker too! Love it!

Keep in mind though, as vegetarians/vegans you shouldn't drink tea around eating your meals because it does inhibit iron absorption. :)
 

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I drink about 40 oz of loose Green Tea a day...is that a pretty good amount for health benefits you think? When I started drinking tea I had NO idea about the health benefits. I then learned about them and was so excited. I rarely drink black tea and herbal tea thugh
. My tea intake is about 90% loose Green and 10% loose White. Whit is such a delicacy
. Thanks for this article! Tea rocks my world.

Cheers.
 

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I also like tea and drink quite a lot of it. Green tea (mostly Chinese or Japanese teas) are very good healthwise. Black tea also has a lot of good points, but if you drink black tea with your meals it blocks iron uptake. People with hemochromatosis (iron storage disease) are told to drink black tea with every meal to reduce their iron intake.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lothar M Kirsch View Post

I also like tea and drink quite a lot of it. Green tea (mostly Chinese or Japanese teas) are very good healthwise. Black tea also has a lot of good points, but if you drink black tea with your meals it blocks iron uptake. People with hemochromatosis (iron storage disease) are told to drink black tea with every meal to reduce their iron intake.
I heard about the Iron blockage and became quite worried that all my Iron was going to waste. I only drink Green Tea, so should I not worry about this? I read that ALL tea blocks Iron. Makes sense because it is all from the same plant. YOu will really make my day if I find out that my Green Tea doesn't do this
. Thanks.

Cheers.
 

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No, as far as I know green tea shouldn't do it. Black tea contains tannins, which bind iron. I'll research the issue further.
 

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Here's what I've found:

People who drink green tea have significantly lower risks of some diseases, e.g. cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Both green and black tea inhibit the intestinal absorption of non-heme iron (iron from non-animal sources), but black tea tannins seem to be more potent. Green tea extracts have been shown to reduce the ability of humans to utilise dietary iron, but they have a higher contents of polyphenols / tannins, because these are the agents likely to prevent diseases.

The advice to add lemon or milk to tea during meals has been refuted. It is better to enjoy your tea in between meals.

There is one Swiss study by Hurrell, RF in Br J Nutr. 1999 Apr;81(4):289-95, but they only tested black tea against coffee, cocoa, and herbal infusions (teas like camomile, vervain, lime flower, peppermint) and not against green tea. All tested substances inhibited iron absorption, black tea had the highest rate.

There is also a study from Maroc, Hamdaoui, M in Ann Nutr Metab. 1994;38(4):226-31, which addresses the issue: Concentrations of 300, 200 and 100 micrograms/ml of black tea decreased dramatically nonheme iron bioavailability from couscous, but 50 micrograms/ml did not influence iron absorption. The inhibition of nonheme iron from couscous varied from 36 to 61% with black tea and 30.5% with green tea.

Conclusions: If you already have problems getting enough iron, prefer green tea to black tea and drink it in between meals, add vitamin C rich drinks or foods to your meals to enhance iron absorption.
 
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