A ‘nice cup of tea’ is part of our national daily life, but we don’t tend to think of it as a health food. However new research reveals that drinking tea could reduce the chance of a hip fracture and for anyone with a risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis, this could be very refreshing news.
What is osteoporosis?
Put simply it is when the bones start to thin and are not strong enough to resist even a slight fall. Unfortunately there are no ‘warning signs’ but if you have a family history of risk for this then your doctor should be able to offer you a dexa scan to assess the state of your bones. Bones are living tissue and continue to be broken down and built up throughout our entire lives. That is why it is never too late to start treatment as it is perfectly safe, and indeed advisable to take supplemental progesterone for hormone balance and to protect the bones in these circumstances.
Dr John Lee, the pioneer of natural progesterone usage, said it was never too late to take it for osteoporosis and indeed he had elderly patients on it who showed good results. The fact that our bones continue to grow throughout our lives means we have to
provide the optimum conditions to help them do that and progesterone is essential for building new bone. This means that even though damage may be severe there is still the opportunity to build healthy bone.
How can tea help?
A new new study published in Osteoporosis International reports that if you put on the kettle and have between one to four cups of tea each day that means you could have a lower risk of hip fracture than those who drink no tea at all. Tea could be having a positive effect due to the presence of fluoride in the tea brew, or because of the role of tea flavonoids as potent antioxidants, and in supporting bone cell growth.
Commenting on the study, Dr Carrie Ruxton, an independent dietitian and member of the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), notes: “A number of studies have linked tea consumption with reduced risk of fracture and this was a meta-analysis of 14 studies that have evaluated tea and coffee in this context. The meta-analysis involved six cohort and eight case-control studies on a total of 195,992 individuals which included 9,958 cases of hip fracture.”
Well that must be a heck of a lot of cups of tea, but they found that the risk of hip fracture was 16% lower among the highest versus the lowest consumers of tea. Compared with no tea consumption, 1-4 cups of tea per day reduced the risk of hip fracture by 28%. For those drinking 1-2 cups of tea daily, the risk was lowered by 28%, for those drinking 2-3 cups daily, the risk was reduced by 37% and by 21% among those drinking 3-4 cups daily.
Interesting that the highest consumption was not associated with the lowest risk, but if you are having 2-3 tea breaks that sounds like you would get the most benefit. However, hold back on the milk as it is black tea that previously has been shown to have most benefit as shown in a report earlier this year in The Journal of Nutrition Health & Aging.
In summary, Dr Ruxton adds: “Overall, these studies indicate the benefits of tea drinking particularly in our older population among whom fracture and functional disability are a significant risk. Consumption of 4 cups a tea daily has also been associated with cardiovascular health and can contribute to good hydration.”
What else do you need?
Both progesterone and oestrogen are necessary for treatment of osteoporosis but most women have sufficient oestrogen naturally produced at or after menopause without having to supplement. Oestrogen can help retain old bone for longer, but progesterone is needed for actual bone building and renewal.
Regular weight-bearing exercise and a healthy diet are also crucial and as the side effects associated wityh osteoporosis drugs can be severe, it is worth taking an alternative look at what else you can naturally do to keep your bones strong. Time for a cuppa?