The Risks of Drinking Tea
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China by Steve Evans

If you know me or have been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I am a type 1 diabetic and I have a love, some might say obsession, for tea. Green tea is my favorite with my newest love, Pu-erh tea, running a close second. I drink tea through out the day, switching to decaf and herbal blends in the evening. I love my morning ritual of a nice warm cup of tea as I read email and review  Twitter and Facebook. I find it both energizing and centering at the same time. Plus tea, green in particular, has heart healthy antioxidants, the potential to lower cholesterol and even a slight thermogenic effect (which gives a tiny metabolism boost).

However in researching tea for someone who was recently told by her doctor not to drink it I learned that it also has it’s drawbacks. At first glance, I thought it might even be off limits for me!

If you have issues with caffeine green tea isn’t the answer. This one I already knew. I often correct people who think green tea doesn’t have caffeine. It has less than coffee or black tea but it is still caffeinated. You certainly can find decaffeinated versions, but if caffeine gives you the jitters or have been advised not to have caffeine it’s best to stick to an herbal blend.

Black tea and kidney stones don’t mix. Black tea is a high oxalate beverage. The most common type of kidney stones are a mixture of calcium and oxalate, a waste product of the human body. Some studies have even shown that kidney stone diagnosis go up during the hottest months of summer – when people reach for black iced tea to cool off. Green tea is lower in oxalate, but some doctors will even call it off limits. To be safe, stick with herbal blends if you have been told to follow a low oxalate diet or have kidney stones.

Green tea impacts the immune system – for better and for worse. This is the finding that caught my eye. I won’t go deep into the science (click here for a very detailed discussion from the Precision Nutrition team) but green tea impacts T cell production in the body. This can be a problem for those with certain kinds of autoimmune issues like chronic sinusitis, ulcerative colitis or systemic lupus erythematous. Thankfully for those with type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis or Rheumatoid arthritis this can be a helpful benefit.

I certainly breathed a sigh of relief to learn that green tea could still be a part of my healthy lifestyle. For most others, it can be a part of a transition to a fitter life as well. Try a couple of cups each day, unsweetened or with a small amount natural sweetener, in place of higher calorie or nutrient devoid beverages like soda or energy drinks.  Cheers!

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