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Friendly bacteria love a cup of tea

A review of research into the effects of tea on gut bacteria has found a probiotic effect. The study, commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), is published in Nutrients Journal and combines the results from 21 studies which studied the impact of different teas on gut health. The results showed clear differences in the types of bacteria thriving in the gut after regular tea drinking, with the balance changed towards healthier strains and away from those linked with infection and even obesity.

Natural health chemist, co-author and adviser from TAP, Dr Tim Bond explains: “Everyone knows that fibre or probiotics can help change gut bacteria towards more favourable strains so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that a simple cup of tea can also be effective. The studies we evaluated seemed to be most successful when participants drank 4-5 cups of tea daily, with significant increases seen for bifidobacteria – thought to help improve our immune defences by crowding out potentially harmful pathogens.” Tea is a rich source of plant polyphenols and, alongside onions and apples, is one of the largest sources of these in the British diet. There are multiple types of polyphenols in tea that could potentially interact with the gut microbiome, including theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea.