Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tea and Antioxidants
While I was in America a few weeks ago I went to a health food store and stocked up on tea for the studio. I bought about 30 boxes. The girl at the check out counter beeped the boxes for two minutes, then looked up over her hipster eyeglasses and said "You got a cold or something?" It was pretty funny. This is a picture I took with my cell phone of my suitcase filled to the brim with tea. I felt like some kind of smuggler.
Tea has been an important part of our lives for a long time, and we have tried to incorporate it into our studio as much as possible. Sharing tea after the lessons brings the students together, gives a sense of community, and is healthy.
That health benefit is what I want to blog about today. Everyone has an idea that tea is good for you because it contains antioxidants. And everyone knows that antioxidants are good because they... um... antioxidize? This is where understanding breaks down and pseudo-scientific health claims start popping up like "Reverse Aging!"
So I'll try to explain what antioxidants do in plain English.
Inside your body there are lots of little molecules floating around that scientists call "free radicals." These little guys, for one reason or another, have lost some electrons and are unstable. So they bounce around ripping up your healthy cells and DNA, as they try to get the right number of electrons. These start chain reactions, because as an electron is taken from a normal atom, it becomes an unstable free radical too!
Having your cells and DNA ripped up is, of course, bad. It makes you age.
Along come the antioxidants, naturally occuring neutralizers. These guys float around, and when they meet one of the free radicals they stick to it and make it a happy, stable molecule! Yay!
You can get antioxidants from all plants, vegetables, and fruits. And one of the easiest ways to raise your antioxidant intake is with a cup of herbal or green tea.
There are hundreds of different free radicals, and each one is neutralized by a different antioxidant, so the key is to have a healthy, varied diet that covers a wide range of flavors and colors. That's one reason we change our tea every week.So come by, take a yoga class, and enjoy some of these teas from the US. Most aren't available in Japan and they are all delicious!