Don't stress out! Relax and renew with tea

In an era when responsibilities and obligations far outnumber hours in the day, it’s no wonder many diseases are linked to stress. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. Clearly, some forms of stress are essential—to win races, meet deadlines or increase productivity—but too much stress can cause a very different response. The key is finding harmony, like strings on a guitar. Wound too tightly, the strings will break. Strung too loosely, they’re off-key. Just the right amount of tension, however, creates beautiful music.

The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates 75 to 90 percent of all visits to family physicians are for stress-related problems. But stress is manageable. Currently, 64 percent of Americans say they are taking steps to reduce the level of stress in their lives.

Whether it’s learning time management skills, practicing yoga or tai chi or getting regular exercise and sufficient sleep, these techniques can help reduce stress to achieve a more balanced lifestyle, peace of mind and improved health.

What you put in your body can be just as effective as the stress-reducing habits you practice. Consider tea, for example. Chilled or hot, tea has the potential to soothe the mind, body and soul, and taking a “tea break” to reduce stress can have tremendous health benefits. Some of America’s top health concerns, like heart disease and diabetes, are greatly affected by stress. Plus, tea has additional health benefits.

Beth Israel Medical Center cardiologist, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, agrees. “Regular tea consumption has been shown to be protective to the heart. Studies indicate drinking tea may in fact lower LDL cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.”

For centuries, tea has been appreciated for its holistic health and wellness properties, and in many cultures tea is a central part of daily rituals. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Tea is the world’s most popular beverage, second to water. According to Soshitsu Sen XV, one of Japan’s highest-ranking tea masters, peace is found in a single cup.

While calm and serene feelings can go hand-in-hand with a cup of tea, scientific studies increasingly show tea may also help manage weight, fight cavities, maintain a healthy immune system and support proper cell division and growth.

Tea contains naturally occurring antioxidants called flavonoids. These antioxidants help the body combat stress and contribute to tea’s long list of health benefits. In fact, research suggests the antioxidants found in green, white and black teas are among the most powerful found in foods and beverages.

According to Charlie Baden, Blendmaster at Celestial Seasonings–the leading U.S. specialty tea company–“For 35 years, we’ve been creating delicious, healthful, natural products that nourish the body and uplift the soul, so it’s encouraging to see more and more Americans discovering both the health and enjoyment properties of tea.”

Science continues to support long-held notions about the benefits of tea. Herbal tea favorites including chamomile and hibiscus provide benefits supported by powerful science. Whether it’s research about chamomile’s soothing effect on jangled nerves, irritated skin and upset stomachs or new information about powerful antioxidants found in hibiscus, the scientific findings confirm tea’s wellness properties.

Adds Baden: “We monitor and respond to scientific research to ensure healthy and great-tasting teas. Our tea flavors are determined by tracking emerging trends, sourcing new and unique ingredients worldwide and evaluating special requests from tea lovers. More than 100 different ingredients from 35 countries on five continents are skillfully blended to create our flavorful, natural teas that comfort and rejuvenate.”

The benefits, like the variety of flavorful teas, are numerous, so enjoy a cup or two when tension mounts. Tea is a healthy, soothing habit that’s hard to resist.

For more ideas on how to reduce stress and renew with tea, visit the Web site online.

From the Nov. 2-8, 2005, issue

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