Week of July 2, 2012
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

AICR HealthTalk
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is bottled ready-to-drink tea as high in antioxidants as the tea I brew at home?

A: No, bottled tea is much lower in the polyphenol compounds that give black and green tea their antioxidant power. Commercial teas do seem to vary somewhat, but even those reportedly highest in polyphenols, and the compound called EGCG in particular, don’t contain anywhere near the amounts documented in standard brewed tea. The unsweetened versions are still excellent zero-calorie alternatives to sugar-laden soft drinks when you are not able to brew your own. However, brewing tea at home is both less expensive and higher in antioxidant polyphenols. Although population studies show inconsistent evidence for tea reducing cancer risk, laboratory research suggests polyphenol compounds may act through pathways other than as antioxidants to reduce development of cancer, though more research is needed. Brew up a pitcher and refrigerate to have a cool zero-calorie drink handy on hot summer days. Here’s how: for concentrate, bring one quart of cold water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add 8-10 teabags for each quart of brewed iced tea. Steep 3-5 minutes. To serve, add to cold water and/or ice cubes. If it seems too hot even to boil water, you can brew tea overnight in the refrigerator by steeping a few tea bags in a pitcher of cold water.

Q: Does exercising in water provide special benefits?

A: Exercising in water, known as aquatic exercise, offers something for everyone. Its supportive properties especially benefit people with arthritis, pregnancy or sports injuries. The buoyancy of water decreases painful spinal compression (a condition that may be caused by injury or other disorder) because it can reduce how much weight our body puts on the spine by 50 percent in waist-deep water and 75 percent in chest-deep water. For people with osteoporosis, water provides a place to exercise and improve balance with less fear of injury from falls. Experts disagree about whether aquatic exercise provides enough weight bearing to strengthen bones, but it does at least help maintain bone mass. Water’s resistance means running in deep water will give even more of an aerobic workout without adding impact on your joints. You can increase the muscle- and heart-training effects even further by adding more resistance with fitness equipment such as webbed gloves, foam dumbbells and noodles. Water’s pressure on the body reduces leg swelling, decreases heart rate and improves circulation. People with lung disease need to be cautious, however, since the increased aerobic workout in deep water may make breathing more difficult for them. Warmer water is best for arthritis, fibromyalgia or Parkinson’s disease. Cooler water minimizes multiple sclerosis symptoms and overheating in vigorous exercise, but may cause muscle cramps. Popular aquatic classes include circuit training, dance exercise and yoga for relaxation and flexibility. Check for classes at your local YMCA or through the Arthritis Foundation which offers aquatic programs.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

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