When it comes to teas, a good, old-fashioned cup of English brekky is about as unglamorous as it gets. It’s all about exotic-sounding herbal blends these days, and while they’re damn delicious (camomile and spiced apple, anyone?), research from UCLA suggests that black tea might just be the best tea to drink for both weight loss and your gut microbiome.
As the temperature plummets, tea becomes the go-to gal for that cosy hug in a mug. And while a lot of health-conscious millennials (*raises hand*) might eschew a cup of the black stuff for something infinitely more complex and herbal sounding, it might not be the most gut-friendly choice to make.
Here’s why you should be switching out your much-loved matcha or green tea for a plain, no-frills black brew (taking toxins into consideration, of course):
It’s all about absorption
A major difference between black tea and other more herbal options, is the way that the body absorbs the antioxidants that come with the leaves. Green tea polyphenols are so small that they’re absorbed into the bloodstream and liver, whereas those in black tea are significantly bigger and remain in your intestine—which helps them to boost gut health.
Black tea alters the gut microbiome, and thanks to that shift, black tea has been dubbed “anti-obesogenic” due to its proven ability to prevent weight gain. This study put four groups of mice on four different diets for four weeks. The first was on a high-fat, high-sugar diet; the second on a high-fat, high-sugar diet with the addition of green tea; the third on a high-fat, high-sugar diet with the addition of black tea; and the fourth on a low-fat, high-sugar diet.
While the mice who supplemented their diets with green tea and black tea lost the same amount of weight over the course of the experiment, the mice who had black-tea-supplemented diets had more pseudobutyrivibrio in their systems; a gut bacteria that has a positive impact on metabolism.
Of course, we’re humans—not mice, but the author of the study explains “when black tea molecules stay in the intestinal tract, they enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria and the formation of microbial metabolites involved in the regulation of energy metabolism.” Ultimately, by changing gut metabolites and intestinal microflora, it seems that black tea alters energy metabolism in the liver of mice in ways that promote weight loss—which scientists conclude is a good indication of the impact it can have on humans.
It’s a prebiotic
We know by now how important gut health is for overall wellbeing, and that both probiotics and prebiotics are fundamental to a thriving microbiome. Hell, even postbiotics have their place. The lead of the study concluded that the main takeaway of her team’s findings was that “both green and black teas are prebiotics—substances that induce the growth of good microorganisms that contribute to a person’s wellbeing. For black tea lovers, there may be a new reason to keep drinking it.”