Why Three Cuppas a Day Can Keep You Healthy; Chemicals in Tea Boost Body's Immune System, Says Research

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM UTTON

PEOPLE all over the world are potty about tea.

But as well as being a much loved beverage, research now says drinking three cups a day beefs up the immune system and gives the body a better chance of fighting off colds, flu and all types of infection.

Scientists have found that people who drank a pint of tea over the course of a day were ' priming' their immune system against invading bacteria. Putting the body's defences on guard means they react far more vigorously against potential infection - keeping drinkers fit and healthy.

The immune response of human cells was increased tenfold by exposure to particular substances found in tea.

The benefits may also help to fight against cancerous tumours, U.S.

researchers believe. Tea contains chemicals called alkylamine antigens, which are also present in some bacteria, tumour cells and parasites.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, examined the effects of these chemicals on parts of the immune system called gamma-delta T-cells.

These are the body's critical first line of defence against infection. After briefly exposing the cells to an alkylamine antigen in the laboratory, researchers then exposed them to bacteria to simulate an infection.

They mounted a strong immune response by multiplying up to ten- fold and secreting disease-fighting chemicals.

In contrast, cells not previously exposed to an alkylamine antigen showed no significant response to the simulated infection. …