Drinks That Warm You Up and Heal You at the Same Timeby Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer
Drinks That Warm and Heal
When the weather gets cold, we often crave hot foods and beverages to keep us warm. In addition to warming us on a cold day, the hot beverages that we choose to consume can also have numerous health benefits, particularly when it comes to preventing disease and managing chronic conditions. HealthCentral reviewed eight popular warm beverages and the health benefits of each.
Typically consumed for relaxation and to improve sleep, chamomile tea can also have numerous health benefits for someone living with a chronic condition. Consumption of chamomile tea has been linked to decreasing the risk of diabetic complications. Its anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial for people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Chamomile tea is also an antispasmodic, making it beneficial for people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Ginger has long been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes, including the treatment of motion sickness. Ginger tea is commonly used by cancer patients to help reduce nausea during treatment. But research has shown that ginger may also have many other health benefits, including cancer prevention, as an anti-inflammatory agent, to prevent heart disease, and to reduce pain associated with chronic disease.
The consumption of green tea has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including prevention of heart and liver disease. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Due to its antioxidant properties, drinking green tea regularly has been linked to the prevention of many types of cancer, including lung, colon, esophagus, mouth, stomach, small intestine, kidney, and pancreas. Several studies also show that green tea may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.
Similar to green tea, white tea has been linked to numerous health benefits due to its high antioxidant properties, particularly relating to cancer prevention and decreasing a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. The plant compounds in white tea can improve oral and brain health. Consumption of white tea has also been linked to improvement in reproductive health.
Moringa tea contains compounds that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is often used to decrease pain caused by chronic inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Research has also linked the consumption of moringa tea with improved digestive health. Its calcium content can also be beneficial for bone health if consumed on a regular basis.
Due to the fermentation process involved in its manufacturing, kombucha is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health and for immune system support. Studies have showed a link between kombucha consumption and decreased triglyceride levels. Research has also shown that drinking kombucha can lead to a decreased risk of developing stomach ulcers.
Though all tea comes from the same plant, oolong tea is partially fermented (unlike black tea, which is fully fermented). Like other types of tea, oolong tea contains antioxidants, which have numerous protective benefits. Research has shown that regular oolong tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing high triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Green, black, and oolong tea can also help with weight loss.
Good news for coffee drinkers! There are numerous health benefits associated with moderate coffee consumption, including a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improved heart health, and a decreased risk of liver disease. Recent studies show that coffee may also reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. And for those who suffer from Parkinson’s, regular caffeine consumption may help to control movement.
The bottom line
There are numerous health benefits associated with coffee and tea consumption, but there also are some risks of intake for special populations, particularly for pregnant and nursing women. Some digestive disorders can also be aggravated by the compounds in coffee and tea, so it's important to discuss making any changes to your diet with your healthcare provider, particularly if you are taking a medication that may have an interaction with the compounds in these beverages.