Tea is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect against certain diseases, including arthritis.
Green, black, oolong and white teas are all rich in polyphenols – compounds from plants that boost the immune system and help fight inflammation – which have been recommended to arthritis sufferers to ease joint pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients should reach for green or white tea, as they contain the highest polyphenol levels, probably because they are less processed.
The Arthritis Foundation states that green tea’s active ingredient, a polyphenol known as epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG), makes it the winning choice.
“When it comes to antioxidant activity, EGCG has been shown to be as much as 100 times stronger than vitamins C and E,” it states. “Studies have shown it also helps preserve cartilage and bone.”
To get the most benefits from tea, arthritis sufferers are advised to steep the tea bag or loose tea in boiling water for five minutes.
Having decaf or iced tea won’t negate the health benefits, according to studies.
But one or two cups a day probably isn’t enough to make a difference to joint pain caused by inflammation.
Polyphenol levels in the blood drop two hours after drinking tea, the Arthritis Foundation warns. “You’d have to drink seven or eight cups of tea over the day to keep your polyphenol levels consistently elevated.”
Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack other cells in the body, wrongly thinking they are foreign bodies.
This leads to inflammation and progressive joint damage. It affects almost every joint in the body but in particular hands, feet, wrists and knees.
If tea is beneficial, what about coffee? Research shows that coffee, just like tea, does contain protective antioxidant polyphenols.
But before you start downing double espressos, there are some studies that link coffee to an increased risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis or osteoporosis.
The Arthritis Foundation advises drinking coffee in moderation – no more than one or two cups a day.
Arthritis affects around 10 million people, young and old, in the UK. It affects more women than men.
Research from Germany suggests that eating a bowl of muesli every morning can make bones stronger and could help prevent certain types of chronic inflammatory arthritis later in life.