As the weather cools down, we’re more inclined to reach for hot beverages; homegrown rooibos should be the first drink you opt for. The tea has long been heralded for its health boosting properties. The health benefits of rooibos has been researched since the 1960s and the tea is a good source of antioxidants, which is said to have cancer fighting properties.
This year the South African Rooibos Council is ramping up their research efforts to understand the full extent of the health benefits the tea provides. R4.5 million has been injected into research to understand how the tea can reduce the prevalence of allergies, heart disease, diabetes and skin cancer between now and 2020. Other research being conducted includes looking at how rooibos can improve athletes’ sport performance, the impact it has on gut flora, and to what extent it can lessen the effects of antiretroviral therapy.
For now, keep warm with a cup of rooibos while enjoying these benefits:
1. Boost Immunity Against Flu
Trying to avoid catching the flu in winter should be considered an extreme sport. Public transport and open plan offices are breeding grounds for germs. One of the ways to fortify your body against the flu is by sipping on a cup of rooibos throughout the day. The tea contains polyphenols known for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. These polyphenols are strong antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin which help boost your immune system.
Research is also currently being conducted by Professor Jonny Peter to show how drinking rooibos could help alleviate allergic rhinitis.
2. Keep Your Spirits High
The lack of sunshine couple with decreased physical activity during winter can negatively affect your mood and even lead to seasonal affective disorder. Prof Christo Muller told the South African Rooibos Council that one of the best ways to improve your mood is by eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish. These protect the body against oxidative stress. “Adding rooibos to your daily diet supplements your intake of beneficial polyphenols without adding extra calories,” he says. “Experts recommend drinking up to six cups a day for optimal health benefits.”
3. It’s Good For Your Heart
In South Africa, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the second leading cause of death. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation over fifty thousand people die from CVD every year. One of the ways to decrease your chances of contracting the disease is by making healthier lifestyle choices and exercising frequently.
Studies also show that drinking six cups of rooibos tea a day could also reduce your chance of developing heart disease. A Swedish study showed that drinking rooibos tea significantly suppresses the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. The enzyme is said to play a role in the development of heart disease. Another study showed that drinking six cups of rooibos tea for six weeks decreased LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol.
4. Improve Your Concentration
While you’re studying or working late into the night, you might reach for a cup of coffee to keep you going. You may want to consider drinking rooibos instead. Despite the tea being caffeine free, its concentration of antioxidants fights oxidative stress and improves one’s ability to concentrate and focus.
5. Sleep Better
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, reach for a cup of rooibos tea. The potent antioxidants found in the tea has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body allowing you to have a good night’s rest. The tea also contains high concentrates of calcium and magnesium – both of which enhances the quality of your sleep. It helps that the tea is caffeine free, which means you can drink it right before you fall asleep.
6. Keep Your Skin Hydrated
The cold weather has a tendency to sap all the moisture from our skin, making it essential for men to take extra care with their skin during the winter months. The antioxidants found in rooibos fights free radicals to repair the damage done to your skin. Its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties could also help those who struggle with acne and other skin conditions.
Currently, further research is being conducted at CPUT to determine how rooibos could protect the skin against the onset of skin cancer.
Bonus: Soothe Your Pet’s Irritation
While the prevalence of rooibos in skincare products has increased over the years, rooibos is also good for your pets. The tea’s anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties extend to pets too. It helps soothe irritations and itchy, dry skin.
“When cats and dogs have a skin irritation or redness, owners often rush out to buy chemical-based shampoos and soaps which could worsen the problem,” pet food nutrionist, Paul Jacobson, told the SARC. “By bathing your pet in a solution of rooibos you can relieve the itchiness and prevent the onset of eczema and other mild skin problems.” Jacobson owns a popular range of healthy pet remedies and food. “Pets can also benefit from rooibos’ health-giving properties by simply pouring it over their food,” recommends Jacobson.