6 Reasons Drinking Tea Will Keep You Healthy This Winter
The weather's gotten cooler. Daylight savings time is behind us so we've got longer, darker evenings ahead of us. And winter is coming, along with flu and cold season.
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But there are compensations. On a blustery day, there's nothing better than curling up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a good book, an affectionate pet—and a steaming cup of tea. It warms your belly, it warms your hands—and that cup can contain all kinds of great health benefits that can help you get through the winter feeling good.
What are some of the things hot tea can do for you?
1. Tea is a heady brew of hundreds of natural chemicals, many of them beneficial or even essential to health. Foremost among them are polyphenols, a form of antioxidant flavonoids. These are essential for cell regeneration and staving off the effects of aging, including conditions like heart disease, cancer and possibly even Alzheimer's. Tea has been associated with a lower incidence of Parkinson's disease as well. It's not a miracle elixir but it can help strengthen the body's defenses against the ravages of time.
2. Tea has been shown to have an impact on oral health and have cavity-fighting properties. Studies have shown that the polyphenols found in black tea can inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth and help prevent plaque buildup.
3. Although tea does have some caffeine, it doesn't have nearly as much as coffee. So while it can be a mild stimulant and give you a little jolt of energy and mental alertness, it isn't going to put you as much on edge as too much coffee might and it's not as likely to keep you up all night—depending on how much you drink, of course, and how close to bedtime.
4. Different teas—white, green, black and oolong—have different benefits. Green tea, for instance, may build bone density, making your bones stronger. And white and green teas, the least processed, retain more of their flavonoids and have even greater cancer-fighting properties. Herbal infusions are not actually teas, but may have a range of health benefits of their own, including settling an upset stomach, helping you fall asleep or relieving constipation.
5. Tea, especially oolong teas, have been associated with boost in metabolism, leading to potential weight loss. A couple of studies have shown that oolong tea drinkers have smaller waist sizes.
6. Ladling in the refined white sugar will certainly counteract any possible weight loss, and it isn't a good idea for a lot of reasons. But other traditional tea go-withs, like lemon and honey, bring potential health assets of their own. Honey has traces of vitamin and minerals and a bunch of antioxidants of its own. If you feel a sore throat coming on, it coats the throat and soothes it. The vitamin C in lemon is another antioxidant that gives a boost to the immune system and helps fight off seasonal bugs. So there really is something to that prescription of a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon when you've got the winter blahs.
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Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
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