How Tea Could Change Your Genes

Epigenetics is sort of the new hottest trend in the world of human biology these days. And for one simple reason: It’s awesome.

While we’ve known for a very long time that your genes dictate a huge portion of your life, science had not fully explained how that system worked. Research has fallen short of explaining the shift in genes that can sometimes be observed from one generation to the next or even during one individual’s lifetime.

Which is where epigenetics comes in. But, before we dive into some of the more recent research into the topic, let’s make sure that we’re clear about what epigenetics is and why it matters.

The Genetic Control Board

Put simply, you are born with all of the genes that your body will ever need. You do not gain or lose genes throughout your life. It is possible, though, for some of those genes to be switched on or off due to a variety of outside factors, including your diet, environment, or lifestyle. This is referred to as gene expression.

Epigenetics — which translates to “before genetics” — is the study of the chemical reactions that control which genes are turned on or off.

Tea, Genes, and Women’s Health

As mentioned, tons of different factors can all influence your gene expression, providing researchers with quite a lot of work. How does living in the mountains change your genes? What about listening to jazz or wearing cotton or walking barefoot or eating licorice? There’s plenty to be done.

But, for now, the most recent findings have to do with the way that tea drinking impacts the health of women. Which, of course, is very specific. Interestingly, the study didn’t start that way.

For the paper, researchers across Europe collected genetic and lifestyle information from 3,096 individuals. In each case, the team was looking for any relationship between tea and coffee consumption and changes in gene expression.

When examining the data taken from men, there were no effects. Coffee also seemed to do nothing for anybody.

However, women who drank tea did experience some very significant epigenetic changes. In these cases, the participants saw better estrogen metabolism and even had a decreased risk of developing certain forms of cancer.

Considerations

Before the women of the world start chugging tea by the gallon, though, it’s important to talk about some of the limitations of this study. First of all, these large studies primarily look at statistics and do not give a clear picture of what’s happening within the individual.

But, more practically, this study did not report precisely what type of tea these women were drinking or how much or how frequently. Because of differences in growing and processing conditions, each family of tea does have a slightly different chemistry which could change the outcomes.

So, then, what is the practical value of this study? The simple takeaway: Tea could be good for women. Of course, remember that tea is caffeinated and don’t go overboard.

And if you want a perfect cup of tea to sip on yourself, take a look at our tea finder, and find the right one for you! 

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