Green Tea and Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal influenza, which most of us simply know as flu, typically peaks in the United States in January or February. The CDC notes that the severity of flu season is unpredictable and says that the 2010-2011 flu season was less severe than the previous season but more so than the one that preceded that. The CDC lists the signs and symptoms of flu at their Web site, but none of this should come as a news flash to anyone who’s ever been hit with the flu. As the agency notes at its Web site, “CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.”

Tea drinkers are likely to experience an additional level of protection, thanks to various compounds that tea contains. The most notable among these, in this case, are catechins and theanine. The link between flu and tea was explored in a study by researchers at the University of Shizuoka, in Shizuoka, Japan. The results of that research were published recently in the Journal of Nutrition.

As the researchers noted, there have been some clinical studies focused on the connection between tea and flu in adults, but their research focused on school-aged children. The study looked specifically at the relationship between green tea and flu and the subjects were 2,600 schoolchildren who lived in tea-growing regions of Japan.

The study found that those children who drank an average of at least five cups of green tea per week experienced fewer cases of flu and logged fewer sick days from school than those who drank little or no tea. The research suggests that the catechins in tea interfere with the mechanisms that make the influenza virus work, while the combined effect of catechins and theanine help to increase systemic immunity. Theanine is a compound in tea that’s most notable for the fact that it’s been found to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Read more about it here. For additional info about this study, look here.

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.

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