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The 20 Surprising Effects Of Tea On Your Body : A Step By Step Journey

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By Author: Guillaume Devaux
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Have you ever wondered what happens in your body when you sip on a cup of green or black tea? We've charted this journey from your mouth to its elimination, covering its effects on your digestion, respiration, body energy levels… Fasten your seatbelt, hold onto your teapot, and let’s go !

What happens in your mouth – 30 seconds

When tea comes into contact with your mouth, a chemical dance begins, rock n' roll style!

Polyphenols and catechins, two types of phenolic compounds found abundantly in tea, take the stage first. Their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties are well-documented.

The arrival of the first sip of tea (and even just its sight and smell) triggers salivation, altering the carbohydrate digestion process later in the digestive system.

Your mouth also contains a multitude of bacteria. Some are beneficial, others less so. The tea's catechins and polyphenols begin to kill off pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, such as those responsible for plaque formation and cavities.

Indeed, tea polyphenols can inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the teeth's surface, reducing plaque ...
... formation. Green tea can also slightly increase the pH of your mouth, lowering the risk of cavities.

What happens in your stomach – 5 to 20 minutes

In the stomach, thousands of chemical reactions occur, a real firework of art.

Tea compounds, especially tannins, react with gastric juices, beneficially altering the digestion process.

Tea's catechins inhibit the action of certain digestive enzymes, such as amylase and glucosidase, reducing blood sugar absorption. Result: a slower rise in blood sugar levels.

Tea also stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, aiding digestion. However, it can cause acidity issues, so watch out, there might be a catch.

Caffeine reacts with food lipids like olive oil, nuts, or salmon. This biochemical reaction can speed up or slow down how caffeine is metabolized, varying by individual.

If you drink milk simultaneously, the milk's proteins will bind to the polyphenols, potentially reducing their antioxidant effects.
This is where the tea benefits starts to take effect for real.

What happens in your intestines – 30 to 120 minutes

Tea's catechins and polyphenols come into contact with the stomach lining, coated with cells called enterocytes, facilitating their transfer into the bloodstream. These antioxidants can help alleviate symptoms of intestinal inflammation. Caffeine is also absorbed in the small intestine.

The unabsorbed tea compounds interact with the intestinal microbiota, the microorganisms living in our intestines. Most of this interaction occurs in the large intestine, but tea compounds can begin exerting prebiotic effects in the small intestine, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

What happens in your liver – 45 to 180 minutes

After being absorbed in the small intestine, tea molecules reach the liver via the portal vein. The liver is the body's chemical laboratory, capable of transforming a multitude of substances. Hepatic enzymes, especially the cytochromes P450, metabolize tea components.

Caffeine is one of the molecules most actively metabolized in the liver. It's primarily broken down into three metabolites: paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline.

Paraxanthine helps increase lipolysis, releasing more fatty acids into the bloodstream. Result: increased energy levels and endurance.

Theobromine has a diuretic and vasodilator effect. It can also relax the smooth muscles of the bronchi, improving breathing. Theophylline helps open the airways.

What happens in your blood – 60 to 180 minutes

Once metabolized by the liver, catechins enter the bloodstream and are transported to various tissues and organs. This dilates blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure and improve tissue oxygenation.

Polyphenols circulating in the bloodstream capture and neutralize free radicals, which in excess can cause oxidative stress and damage cells, proteins, and DNA.

What Happens in Your Brain and Nerves – 15 to 45 minutes
Caffeine is transported to the brain where it crosses the blood-brain barrier. There, it acts as an antagonist to adenosine receptors.

Simply put, adenosine is a molecule that promotes relaxation and sleep by binding to specific receptors. Caffeine "blocks" these receptors, preventing adenosine from accessing them, leading to an increase in alertness, concentration, and memory.

What Happens in Your Kidneys – 60 to 90 minutes

Once the compounds from tea are metabolized by the liver, they enter the bloodstream, from where they are transported to the kidneys.

The kidneys act like a purification station. They filter the blood to remove unwanted substances, including metabolites such as those derived from caffeine, catechins, and polyphenols.

These metabolites are diluted in urine and then expelled from the body. The color and odor of urine can change depending on the type of tea consumed. For example, a tea rich in polyphenols may cause the urine to appear darker than normal.

Final Stage: Elimination – 3 to 8 hours

Although many components of tea are absorbed and metabolized, some are not and continue their journey to the large intestine. Fibers, tannins, and various mineral components that have not been digested or absorbed are excreted in the stool.

Fibers, present in small amounts in the tiny leaf fragments, will bind to fats to facilitate intestinal transit.

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