Thank God for oolong, seniors can now live better far longer. Undoubtedly, people from all walks of life will face challenges, but there may not be a most challenging time for anyone on the planet than when reaching old age. The good news is making a habit of a cuppa could make that journey a lot more enjoyable — protected from the clouts of life-threatening diseases.
The Camellia Sinensis evergreen shrub leaves are teeming with antioxidants, polyphenols, and minerals. The ability of these compounds to fight the dreaded effects of disease-causing free radicals makes them beneficial to promoting the well-being of seniors, modern research reveals. Small wonder, drinking tea has become a health-promoting habit for millions of people since ancient times.
In this post, we will show you how making a habit out of drinking oolong can help you put the stresses of old age to a minimum—making your senior years essentially a walk in the park. Read on.
The Wonders of Living Longer
Have you heard of Jeanne Louis Calment? The name might not ring a bell, but the woman from France is the world’s longest-living person to date. Born on the 21st of February, 1875, she died on the 4th of August, 1997.
Amazing right? Not only did she survive two world wars, but she, spanning over a century, also saw Vincent Van Gogh, the legendary artist. That tells you living longer is indeed possible for us humans.
“I’ve waited 110 years to be famous, I count on taking advantage of it.”
- Jeanne Louis Calment at her 120th birthday party
Indeed, the case of Ms. Calment should inspire us. It offers the great possibility of living a quality life for longer.
And it seems we’re heading in that direction. As technology has progressed, life expectancy has increased all over the planet in the last decades. United Nations data showed people’s life expectancy back in 1960 was only 52.5 years; today, that number has gone up to 72 years on average. A number that is bound to grow bigger.
It’s really a blessing. Records of growing life expectancy are even more dramatic in the United Kingdom, which has kept a record of its people far longer.
Table 1. Life Expectancy in the UK, Office of National Statistics Data
And yet, even when people live longer, the question of quality living still needs to be addressed. In fact, it’s not just about living longer but living longer and better.
For starters, many life-threatening diseases still torment older adults. In this regard, chronic health problems throw a gauntlet on the prospects of seniors living life comfortably in their later years.
We’re showing below how seven of the top diseases adversely affect the day-to-day living of the aged in the modern world. Most importantly, we point out how keeping the oolong habit can be instrumental in keeping these diseases at bay.
7 Ways Oolong Helps Seniors Live Better Longest
As fragile as one ages, life-threatening diseases become more pronounced. The body’s ability to protect itself, its immune system, weakens with time. Good thing oolong is there to reinforce an aging body.
1. Protect Your Heart
Think of the heart as a machine that powers the whole body. The heart pumps blood with nutrients to nourish every cell in our body. The problem is, like any machine, when we grow old, the heart weakens.
It’s a natural progression. Like any muscle, the heart can weaken against the torments of time. For one, your heart’s left ventricle doesn’t function as well as before as it grows stiffer. The result? Less oxygen-rich blood circulates the body. Here’s more.
- As we age, the chambers of our hearts increase in size. However, the heart's walls also thicken over time, limiting the amount of blood that each chamber of the heart can hold. This is what we call hypertension.
- Age can make the electrical pulses in your heart miss a step causing arrhythmias (slowed/irregular heartbeat) and leading you to need pacemakers.
- Plus, you grow more sensitive to salt as you age, causing an untimely increase in your blood pressure and/or foot swelling (edema).
Indeed, people aged 65 or older are at greater risk of developing heart complications. Top of the list is a heart attack, stroke, or developing CHD (coronary heart disease), not to mention heart failure.
Table 1: Data on Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in America
How Oolong Can Help
Oolong tea, together with green tea and black tea, are true teas. All come from the leaves of the Camella Sinensis shrub. As such, oolong contains polyphenols, powerful enzymes that combat triglycerides. Note triglycerides are the main culprit that thickens the heart's artery walls, subsequently raising the risk of heart attack, stroke, and a host of heart-related ailments.
Moreover, research has shown that drinking oolong tea can lower cholesterol levels, another critical factor in controlling heart-related diseases.
A study in China involving 1651 patients from 2010 to 2011 revealed that those people who consumed oolong regularly had lower cholesterol levels than those who didn’t. They had 6.69% lower blood total cholesterol.
2. Protect the Brain
Another critical aspect of getting older is the degradation of the brain. Perhaps this is primarily due to people not working anymore when they grow old. Unable to use their brains more often, it becomes less receptive. Some of the most common occurrences during these times are:
- Slower ability to recall names and find words
- Poorer ability to multitask
- Poorer ability to focus and pay attention
Though science has shown that older adults are very much capable of learning new skills and widen vocabulary, as a whole, seniors are considered slower in cognitive thinking. Indeed, changes occur in the brain in the senior years, which include:
- Certain parts of the human brain shrink, especially components essential to complex mental abilities
- Communication between neurons in some regions slows down
- Blood flow slows down
- Prone to inflammation
Worse, a couple of brain issues emerge during old age. These cognitive issues can put the life of a senior in a bind. Two of the most common are Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, both put the daily lives of older adults in a quandary, and both could be deadly.
Table 2: Top Neurodegenerative Diseases in America
People with Alzheimer’s will have trouble speaking and experience tremors. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In contrast, people with Alzheimer’s will find it hard to remember and will find it hard to do everyday tasks such as taking a shower.
As these cognitive diseases are progressive, the chances of dying from complications of those affected go higher by the day.
How Oolong Can Help
Polyphenol-rich oolong can help boost memory and improve focus. Thus, it can strengthen your cognitive prowess. Youngsters starting to drink oolong regularly will improve their brain function in the near term preventing dementia in the long run. In this sense, it safeguards the brain as you grow older.
Studies have shown that the potent catechins in oolong have a neuroprotective property. This means it can potentially decrease the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as shown in tests done on mice.
Further, several studies have consistently shown that drinking oolong and other true teas are linked to better results when taking cognitive tests. In this regard, these drinks have been used as a natural therapy for people with dementia.
3. Protect the Blood
We all need a fresh blood supply to function; that’s what the heart does as it provides nutrients for the whole body by distributing blood. To this end, our bodies turn food into glucose or sugar for energy. This is where insulin comes in. It helps the body absorb the sugar into our body’s cells.
However, our insulin production and absorption could be compromised as we age. Lack of physical activity and overindulgence in food has been seen as contributing to seniors getting diabetes, which has two types.
- Type 1 Diabetes - cases where the body fails to produce needed insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes - is the most common type of diabetes, which affects everyone, from children to older adults. Here, the body fails to make and use insulin well.
When diabetes happens, you must consult an endocrinologist and manage your diabetes or face dire consequences, such as amputation of limbs. Amputation of the lower extremities happens to people with diabetes as arteries narrow, causing blood flow to the limbs to trickle down. Without sufficient nutrients and oxygen, those extremities simply atrophy. And need to be cut off.
Another primary reason diabetes occurs in an older adult is the increasing incidence of insulin resistance. Again, physical inactivity has been a leading factor in this development. Small wonder why lifestyle intervention has had great success on older people with diabetes.
Table 3: Diabetes Incidence in UK/USA
How Oolong Can Help
Research has shown that polyphenols teeming in oolong can lower blood sugar levels. Drinking regularly should be a good deterrent and a timely countermeasure to bring diabetes to manageable levels.
Moreover, polyphenols help reduce insulin resistance allowing the body to make the most of sugars for better health results. By controlling insulin levels and blood sugar levels, diabetes can be prevented and held in check.
One study showed that people who drink oolong regularly for 30 days had reduced blood sugar levels helping them from suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, studies involving humans and animals pointed out that regular intake of oolong can be a great way to lose weight, a key strategy to contain diabetes.
4. Fight Depression
It’s hard not to be depressed when you’re an older adult. Not only are you physically challenged by a host of chronic diseases that comes with the territory, but you could also have greater chances of being left alone. As your children attend to their families, you must often tend to yourself.
The problem is this is a vicious cycle. Depression in seniors means added risk of succumbing to heart disease and other life-threatening diseases common in the later part of one’s years. In short, if you don’t deal with it, you could end up dead faster.
For one, the more depressed a person is, the greater the chances of a heart attack. When you’re depressed or stressed, your blood pressure and heart rate also rise, giving you a double whammy for a heart attack.
Table 4: Depression Incidence in UK/USA
The problem is the majority of seniors who are depressed are untreated. Some don’t even know they’re already showing depressed behavior. In the UK, 85% of people that are depressed receive no help.
How Oolong Can Help
Thanks to the amino acid L-theanine in oolong, making a habit of drinking one daily can go a long way in battling depression. L-theanine has been associated with stimulating dopamine, the brain's feel-good hormones. Thus, it can infuse a reduced feeling of anxiety.
American Journal of Clinical Study posted research that showed that Japanese people who drank tea were 44% less prone to depression. Drinking 4 to 6 cups of tea lowered their risk of getting into a negative mood.
Moreover, oolong has caffeine, another component associated with a greater boost in energy. Plus, the catechins in oolong exert needed anti-inflammatory actions lowering depression in the process.
5. Soothe Stress
As we age, our stress hormone, namely cortisol, also rises. As the transition to later adulthood, psychological and psychosocial stress becomes more evident.
Indeed, seniors are subject to a lot of stressors. Some of these are listed below.
- managing chronic illness
- losing a loved one
- tending to a loved one who could be sick with a degenerative disease
- one’s finances can be under attack
- the prospects of retirement
- the separation from family and friends
The bad news is that increased cortisol can drastically affect late-life cognitive performance. Quite simply, this means older adults constantly under stress are more prone to cognitive decline and eventually dementia. They usually fall into the life-threatening clutches of AD or Alzheimer’s Disease.
How Oolong Can Help
Oolong can induce an anti-stress effect. People who drank the semi-oxidized tea regularly have been observed to have lower cortisol levels than those who don’t.
It all goes back to L-theanine. Studies reveal drinking oolong not only has a calming effect but also leads to a significant reduction in stress and anxiety. That means taking in L-theanine-carrying oolong translated to better sleep quality and improved brain activity.
6. Protect You from Being Overweight
Simply put, obesity has been linked to many life-threatening diseases, including high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, cancer, and even stroke. The problem is people over 65 years old not only have a weakened immune system, but they’re more likely to be overweight. This means they double their risks of developing chronic illness.
Statistics provide us with a quick look at how big the problem is.
Table 5: Obesity Incidence in UK/USA
While obesity and being overweight are two different weight categories, both are excessive. According to WHO, being overweight means having a BMI greater than or equal to 25, while being obese means having a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
How Oolong Can Help
Drinking oolong regularly has been shown to help make weight loss happen. Several studies revealed that oolong could help improve fat burning. This is done to the tea's caffeine and the Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) compounds.
One study showed that taking 100 - 460 mg of EGCG and 80 - 300 mg of caffeine daily resulted in weight loss and the reduction of body fat. EGCG helps beef up your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories even when resting via the process of thermogenesis.
What’s more amazing is oolong can help you burn belly fat by accelerating fat oxidation. In one particular research, 102 overweight people were made to drink oolong daily for six weeks. And the results reveal that they have attained their weight loss goals.
It’s such a great benefit that oolong has been associated with burning fat even while you’re asleep. It might even trump green tea in this department, as it has more caffeine.
7. Protect Your Bones
Another area causing distress to seniors is the bones. As we age, our bones become more brittle; by default, they break more quickly than when we are younger. Unsurprisingly, elder adults reduce their height and often carry a cane to support themselves.
The weakening of the bones affects almost every senior on the planet. As a result, a host of health issues follows.
- Deformity of the bones
Worse, this affects older women more than older men. It means seniors will have reduced activity, marred by pain.
How Oolong Can Help
Being active is one preventive measure to strengthen the bones. Exercise promotes bone and muscle issues. In short, exercise help keep your muscles stay stronger.
But oolong contributes significantly to helping seniors attain bone health too. The polyphenols in the semi-oxidized tea promote the development of osteoblasts found in our blood cells. To note, osteoblasts facilitate forming new bones.
And it shows if you keep an oolong habit for longer. One study pointed out that those who habitually drank tea daily for a decade exhibited higher bone mineral density by as much as 2% compared to people who did not drink the tea concoction.
Research in China showed how oolong boosts mineral density. Those who drank 1 to 5 cups of tea daily benefited the most in terms of bone health.
FAQs of Oolong for Seniors
How does oolong differ from green and black tea?
Oolong, green, and black tea differ in their oxidation level. While all these three teas are true teas and come from the same Camella Sinensis evergreen shrub, black tea is the most oxidized, and green tea is the least oxidized. Oolong is in the middle, less oxidized than black and more oxidized than green tea.
Because they enjoy a wider range of oxidation levels, oolong tea is the most diverse tea. Also, they are sought after for their inviting flowery aroma and sweeter, lingering taste. The best oolongs come from the high mountains of Taiwan or Gao Shan.
How safe is oolong for older people?
Oolong is safe for most people of all ages. It’s essential you drink moderately as too much can be hazardous to health. About 4 cups daily are the recommended dosage. Drinking too much oolong could be unsafe due to the caffeine content, which can have side effects.
How much oolong should a senior citizen take?
It’s recommended that seniors take one cup a day at the onset. If there are no complications, he/she should increase the dosage bit by bit. However, he/she should not go beyond 4 cups daily.
Is oolong better than green tea?
If you want more polyphenols, then green tea is the better choice. But if you want to maximize your drinking experience and enjoy a cup in its great taste and aroma, then oolong serves you better while keeping you fit.
When is the best time to take oolong?
The best time to take oolong to perk you up is in the mornings or early afternoons. It’s also a great digestion aid, so it is a good choice at lunchtime when you usually take hearty meals. However, take it about 30 minutes after your meal for the best results.
As oolong contains caffeine, drinking it at night may ruin your sleep. The good news is you could use oolong to pick you up when you need to do work at night. In this sense, oolong is a wise choice.