By Alina Petre, MS, RD
In many parts of the world, "chai" is simply the word for tea.
However, in the Western world, the word chai has become synonymous with a type of fragrant, spicy Indian tea more accurately referred to as masala chai.
What's more, this beverage may have benefits for heart health, digestion, controlling blood sugar levels and more.
This article explains what you need to know about chai tea and its potential benefits.
What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea is a sweet and spicy tea renowned for its fragrant aroma.
Depending on where you come from, you may recognize it as masala chai. However, for the purpose of clarity, this article will use the term "chai tea" throughout.
Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices. The most popular spices include cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves, although star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns are other well-liked options.
Unlike regular tea, which is brewed with water, chai tea is traditionally brewed using both warm water and warm milk. It also tends to be sweetened to varying degrees.
Chai lattes are another popular way to consume the tea. People make these by adding a shot of chai tea concentrate to steamed milk, which produces a beverage containing more milk than you would find in a typical cup of chai tea.
Chai tea can be purchased in most cafés, but is also easy to make at home, either from scratch, premixed tea bags or a store-bought concentrate.
What's more, chai tea has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Summary: Chai tea is traditional Indian milky tea made from a blend of black tea, ginger and other spices. It can be consumed in various forms and may provide a variety of health benefits.
It May Help Improve Heart Health
There's evidence that chai tea may be good for the health of your heart.
In some individuals, cinnamon has been shown to help reduce the levels of total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30 percent (3).
Most studies used doses of 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, which is generally more than you'd find in your typical cup of chai tea.
However, a recent review reported that doses of as little as 120 mg per day may be sufficient to offer these heart-healthy effects (2).
Most research has observed that drinking four or more cups of black tea per day may slightly reduce blood pressure levels. What's more, drinking three or more cups of black tea per day seems to be linked to an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease (6, 7).
However, not all studies are unanimous, and none have investigated the direct effect of chai tea on heart health. Thus, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made (8).
Summary: Chai tea contains cinnamon and black tea, both of which may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, studies that directly investigate the effects of chai tea are needed.
Chai Tea May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Chai tea may contribute to better blood sugar control.
That's because it contains ginger and cinnamon, both of which may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.
Lower insulin resistance makes it easier for your body to use insulin to escort sugar out of your blood and into your cells. This can help lower blood sugar levels.
A recent study gave two grams of ginger powder per day to people with type 2 diabetes, and found it helped lower their blood sugar levels by up to 12 percent (13).
Studies report that effective ginger and cinnamon doses tend to range from 1–6 grams per day. Such doses are more than what you can expect to get from store-bought chai tea bags, or a cup prepared by your local barista.
To get the most benefits, try preparing the tea yourself from scratch. That way, you can add slightly more cinnamon and ginger than most recipes call for.
It's also important to note that, unlike home-brewed chai tea, varieties prepared in cafés are often heavily sweetened, which would likely negate the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of the other ingredients in chai tea.
The American Heart Association recommends women keep their intake of added sugar under 25 grams per day, and men keep their intake under 38 grams per day. This latte alone could max out that limit (16).
For the best blood-sugar-lowering results, opt for an unsweetened version.
Summary: The cinnamon and ginger found in chai tea may help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. However, it's best to steer clear of heavily sweetened, store-bought varieties.
It May Reduce Nausea and Improve Digestion
Ginger seems especially effective at reducing nausea during pregnancy. In fact, a review of studies conducted on a total of 1,278 pregnant women found that a daily dose of 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced nausea (19).
This is about the amount of ginger you'd expect to have in one cup of chai.
In addition, animal studies report that black pepper may increase levels of digestive enzymes needed to properly break down foods and support optimal digestion (25).
However, the amount of pepper used in these animal studies was up to five times higher than the average amount consumed by humans. Thus, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Summary: The chai tea ingredients ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves may help reduce nausea, prevent bacterial infections and support proper digestion.
It May Help You Lose Weight
Chai tea may help prevent weight gain and promote fat loss in several ways.
First, chai tea is generally prepared with cow's milk or soy milk, both of which are good sources of protein.
Protein is a nutrient known to help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness.
Research also shows that compounds found in the type of black tea used to make chai may promote fat breakdown and help reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from foods (30).
What's more, one high-quality study reported that drinking three cups of black tea per day may help prevent unwanted weight gain or gain of belly fat (8).
However, it's worth noting that these effects remain small and appear to only work over the short term.
Finally, animal studies show that consuming black pepper may help prevent the accumulation of body fat, though it's not yet clear how these results relate to humans (31).
However, if you're drinking chai tea, be careful not to consume too much added sugar. Some popular varieties of chai tea contain significant amounts, which would likely counter any of the small benefits outlined above.
For instance, a 12-ounce (360-ml) chai tea made with skim milk contains around 60 calories, while a homemade chai latte may contain around 80 calories.
In comparison, the same quantity of nonfat chai latte at your local café may contain up to 180 calories. It's best to stick to unsweetened, homemade varieties (14).
Summary: Chai tea contains several ingredients that may work together to promote weight loss or prevent unwanted weight gain. To experience the best results, steer clear of sweetened chai teas.
Dosage and Safety
Currently, there's no consensus on how much chai tea the average person would need to drink to reap the health benefits listed above.
Most studies focus on the benefits of individual ingredients, which makes it difficult to determine the actual amount of chai tea or the specific recipe you would need to maximize these benefits.
When consumed in excess, caffeine may cause a variety of unpleasant effects, including anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure and poor sleep. Too much caffeine may also increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight (34, 35, 36, 37).
That said, typical intakes of chai tea are unlikely to exceed these recommendations.
Each cup (240 ml) of chai tea is expected to contain around 25 mg of caffeine. That's half the caffeine dose provided by the same quantity of black tea, and one-quarter that of the typical cup of coffee (32).
Due to chai tea's ginger content, individuals prone to low blood pressure or low blood sugar, or who are taking blood-thinning medication, may want to limit their intake or keep it in the lower end of the range.
Individuals who are lactose intolerant may want to opt for chai teas made from plant-based milks or only water.
Summary: Chai tea is generally considered safe, although it does contain caffeine and ginger, which may cause negative effects in some people. The optimal dosage is not yet known.
How to Make Chai Tea at Home
Chai tea is relatively simple to make at home. It only requires a few ingredients and you can follow a variety of recipes to make it.
The recipe below is one of the most time-efficient preparation methods you'll find.
It requires you to make a chai concentrate in advance and store it in your refrigerator.
This process only takes a little more time up front, but significantly reduces the time it will take for you to enjoy a daily cup of chai tea or chai latte at home.
Chai Tea Concentrate
Here is what you'll need to make 16 ounces (474 ml) of the concentrate:
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2.5 cups (593 ml) water
- 2.5 tablespoons (38 ml) loose-leaf black tea
- 4 inches (10 cm) of fresh ginger, sliced
1. Roast peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise on low heat for around 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind cooled spices into a coarse powder.
3. Using a large saucepan, combine the water, ginger and ground spices and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Avoid letting your mixture reach a boil, which will cause the spices to become bitter.
4. Stir in the loose-leaf black tea, turn the heat off and allow to steep for around 10 minutes, then strain.
5. If you prefer your tea sweet, reheat the strained mixture together with a healthy sweetener of choice and simmer for 5–10 minutes, then cool and refrigerate.
6. Strain the chai tea concentrate into a sterilized bottle and let cool prior to refrigeration. The concentrate keeps in the fridge for up to one week.
To make a cup of chai tea, simply stir one part concentrate with one part hot water and one part hot cow's milk or unsweetened plant milk. For the latte version, use one part concentrate to two parts milk. Stir and enjoy.
Summary: Chai tea is very simple to make. Simply follow the steps above to make your own version of the concentrate.
The Bottom Line
Chai tea is a fragrant, spicy tea that may help boost heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, aid digestion and help with weight loss.
Although most of these health benefits are backed by science, it's worth noting that they are generally linked to the ingredients used in chai tea rather than chai tea itself.
Nevertheless, you probably don't have much to lose by giving chai tea a try.
Just note that you'll get the most health benefits from your tea by opting for a minimally sweetened version.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
On Monday and Tuesday of the week that President Donald Trump held his first rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the county reported 76 and 96 new coronavirus cases respectively, according to POLITICO. This week, the county broke its new case record Monday with 261 cases and reported a further 206 cases on Tuesday. Now, Tulsa's top public health official thinks the rally and counterprotest "likely contributed" to the surge.
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By Tim Radford
German scientists now know why so many fish are so vulnerable to ever-warming oceans. Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning.
Nearing the Brink<p>Since <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/abundant-fish-need-cool-seas-and-protection/" target="_blank">fish in the temperate zones already experience a wide variation</a> in seasonal water temperatures, it hasn't been obvious why species such as <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/sardines-swim-into-northern-waters-to-keep-cool/" target="_blank">cod have shifted nearer the Arctic, and sardines have migrated to the North Sea</a>.</p><p>But <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/ocean-warming-spurs-marine-life-to-rapid-migration/" target="_blank">marine creatures are on the move</a>, and although there are other factors at work, including overfishing and <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/fish-cant-smell-well-in-more-acidic-seas/" target="_blank">the increasingly alarming changes in ocean chemistry</a>, thanks to ever-higher levels of dissolved carbon dioxide, temperature change is part of the problem.</p><p>The latest answer, Dr Dahlke and his colleagues report in the journal <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aaz3658" target="_blank">Science</a>, is that many fish may already be living near the limits of their thermal tolerance.</p><p>The temperature safety margins during the moments of spawning and embryo might be very precise, and over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, marine and freshwater species have worked out just what is best for the next generation. Rapid global warming upsets this equilibrium.</p>
By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach
The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.
When a neurologist examined him, Tom was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal sensation and weakness due to delays in sending signals through the nerves. Usually reversible, in severe cases it can cause prolonged paralysis involving breathing muscles, require ventilator support and sometimes leave permanent neurological deficits. Early recognition by expert neurologists is key to proper treatment.
We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.
Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.
What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.
Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.
To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.
Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.
The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.
Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.
Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?
The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.
Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome
While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.
It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.
Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.
Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.
Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.
Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.
Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
One of the initial reasons social distancing guidelines were put in place was to allow the healthcare system to adapt to a surge in patients since there was a critical shortage of beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. In fact, masks that were designed for single-use were reused for an entire week in some hospitals.
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By Jake Johnson
Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.
"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."
The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."
In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."
"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."
Today the 6 Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces are unveiling final language. The Climate Task Force accomplished a gr… https://t.co/gz3broq2qe— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1594240617.0
The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.
Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."
"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."
Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."
"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.
On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.
Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.
"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."
We rein in #pharma's greed by: 1) Allowing Medicare to FINALLY negotiate Rx drugs FOR ALL AMERICANS 2) Using Rx d… https://t.co/6k9iUCLMp7— Abdul El-Sayed (@Abdul El-Sayed)1594238411.0
Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."
Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."
"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."
"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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