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- Time for a brew: How a cup of tea can perk up your brain activity in just 30 minutes Saturday May 02nd, 2015
Neurological activity increases half an hour after drinking tea
Studies suggest antioxidants known as flavonoids may be responsible
They also help control inflammation, promote blood vessel function and limit clogging of the arteries
When you want to unwind, a steaming cup of tea can be the perfect option. And it seems relaxation is not the only benefit – as the drink may also improve brain performance, according to research.
It is unclear which ingredients are responsible for the effect, but previous studies suggest a pivotal role is played by antioxidants known as flavonoids – which are unaffected by the addition of milk.
Neurological activity increases noticeably around half an hour after drinking black or green tea, a study found, including processes linked to memory and decision making
These are already thought to help control inflammation, promote blood vessel function and limit clogging of the arteries.
For the latest study, researchers at Newcastle University investigated brainwave patterns to establish the effect of tea on various neurological functions.
Eight volunteers were asked to drink a cup made with green or black leaves before having their brain activity measured.
Electrodes attached to their heads found three types of brainwave increased within an hour – alpha, beta and theta.
There was a highly significant increase in the theta waves between 30 minutes and an hour later, says the study published in Nutritional Neuroscience.
The British tea industry is estimated to be worth more than £700million a year (file image)
Both black and green tea stimulated the activity, which is linked with improved cognitive function.
Less significant but still notable was an increase in alpha and beta waves, which are connected to alertness, memory and logical reasoning.
Almost 80 per cent of Britons are tea drinkers and they get through an estimated 165million cups every day.
The British tea industry is estimated to be worth more than £700million a year.
Study leader Dr Edward Okello, executive director of the Medicinal Plant Research Group at Newcastle University, said: ‘Tea has been associated with many mental benefits, such as attention enhancement, clarity of mind and relaxation.’ He added that the findings provide further evidence for the drink’s assumed benefits.
‘The highly significant increase in theta waves post-consumption may be an indication of [tea’s] putative role in cognitive function, alertness and attention,’ he said.
Previous research has shown that drinking three to four cups of tea a day may cut the chance of having a heart attack.
The drink can also help prevent type 2 diabetes, and slows the progression of the disease once it develops.
The antioxidants it contains have been found to halt certain effects of ageing, while regularly drinking black tea has been shown to visibly lower stress levels.
White tea could also help prevent obesity, as it was found to lessen the growth of new fat cells.
CHAMOMILE TEA ‘CUTS CANCER RISK’
Drinking chamomile tea may help protect against thyroid cancer, researchers found.
More than 500 Greeks were questioned about their tea consumption by a team from Athens University.
The volunteers included 113 with thyroid cancer, 286 with benign thyroid diseases and 138 without illness.
A report in the European Journal of Public Health says greater chamomile tea consumption was significantly associated with lower chances of developing thyroid disease.
Drinking the herbal tea two to six times a week reduced the risk of thyroid cancer by 70 per cent and benign disease by 84 per cent.
Overall, regular consumption of chamomile tea over 30 years reduced the risk of developing thyroid diseases by almost 80 per cent.
Source: Daily Mail
- Climate Change Effects on Coffee Production: How Hotter Weather is Killing the Global Arabica Bean Market Saturday May 02nd, 2015
The price of global warming can be measured in costs to human health and the environment, but also in cups of coffee, as warming temperatures are stifling coffee production and could send prices soaring over the next few decades. By 2050, yields of Arabica bean – which accounts for 75 percent of the coffee produced worldwide – in some countries are expected to fall by up to 25 percent, according to a report recently published in the journal PLOS One.
“The agricultural sector will face serious challenges in the coming decades due to the sensitivity of crops to water shortages and heat stress,” researchers wrote. Leading coffee-producing countries like Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam can expect their crops to shrink unless steps are taken to minimize the effects of climate change, such as moving their coffee fields to higher altitudes or genetically altering the plants to survive warmer climates.
Climatologists expect global mean temperatures to increase by 2 degrees to 2.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century. A warmer climate is a coffee grower’s greatest enemy as the plants are particularly sensitive to even the slightest variations in temperature and rainfall patterns. “Rising temperatures have already reduced crop quality and increased the pressure of pests and diseases, reducing agricultural production worldwide,” scientists noted.
The livelihoods of an estimated 25 million families worldwide depend on coffee, the world’s most valuable tropical export and the second-most traded commodity next to oil. More than 90 percent of the world’s coffee is grown in developing countries like Burundi and Nicaragua, where the crop is a main source of revenue for cash-strapped governments.
Despite a wide range of flavors and varieties, only two beans – Arabic and Robusta – dominate the commercial coffee industry. Each has adapted to specific climate zones, which means even half a degree temperature rise can significantly impact a crop’s yield. Additionally, pests like the coffee berry borer thrive in warmer environments. Coffee crops in Guatemala, for instance, are becoming increasingly susceptible to fungi and insects.
Another recent study has shown that climate change is already impacting coffee farms in the East African Highlands. For every degree Celsius rise in earth’s temperature, crop yields decrease by between 14 percent and 27 percent per hectare (2.5 acres), according to a new study published in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.
“Coffee yields have declined to their lowest point in years, with many farmers in Tanzania giving up on coffee completely,” Alessandro Craparo, a PhD candidate from Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The idea that climate change could slash global coffee production isn’t new. Scientists have long known that warmer temperatures are going to impact crop yields, and that as coffee production falls, prices will rise. “The rise in global temperature is of great concern for us in the coffee industry because it will – and has already started – putting the supply of quality coffee at great risk,” Tim Schilling, executive director of the World Coffee Research program, based at Texas A&M University, told the Guardian last year. “Over the long term, you will definitely see coffee prices going up as a result of climate change.” The price of Arabica coffee soared to its highest level in two-and-a-half years in October 2014.
Coffee isn’t the only commercial crop facing threats from global warming. Across Latin America, hotter, drier summers and cooler cold spells have forced many banana farmers to go to great lengths to keep their fruit alive. Some farmers have abandoned their fields altogether.
Source: International Business Times
- Sumatran Tigers on brink of extinction due to illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss Saturday May 02nd, 2015
The Sumatran Tiger could be next to join the Balinese and Javan Tigers in extinction, with as little as 300 left in the wild, one expert says.
Habitat loss and poaching are behind the decline of the subspecies, according to Leif Cocks, president of the International Tiger Project which launched today at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
“There’s a huge demand for tiger parts: tiger skin, tiger penis,” he said.
“[In] Chinese herbal medicine they believe [the penis] gives virility … bit of a worry – if you need tiger penis, you’ve probably got more worries than a tiger’s going to solve for you,” he said.
He added that unsustainable forms of agriculture, like palm oil, have no long-term benefits to humanity, or the Indonesian economy.
“We are allowing the animal to go extinct for no good reason,” Mr Cocks said.
The direct link between the palm oil industry and mass habitat destruction is apparently still not clear to consumers, according to Charlotte Richardson from the partnering Orangutan Project.
“Estimates between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of all packaged foods contain palm oil and it’s not even labelled at the moment, it’s just vegetable oil,” she said.
“So a lot of people are starting to wake up to the fact that when they’re buying their packets of chips, the impact that that has in Indonesia.”
But restoring tiger populations may have unintended consequences which need to be managed.
Plans to increase the species
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) aims to double the amount of wild tigers by 2022.
But as their habitats shrink, tigers are coming into contact more often with humans in surrounding villages, in search of food or more forest.
“At the moment there’s around about 3,200 wild tigers in the world; we double that to 6,500, that may also mean double the number of interactions between tigers and humans,” Darren Grover, national species manager at WWF Australia, said.
The Sumatran Tiger could be next to join the Balinese and Javan Tigers in extinction
“So we need to be able to manage that human-wildlife conflict to ensure that these increased numbers of tigers that we want to see in the wild isn’t leading to increased human-tiger conflict.
“It’s that conflict which ends up with not only people being injured or even killed, but also tigers being killed in response.”
He said simple solutions like fencing off communities or lighting villages can keep both parties safe.
By working with local communities, The International Tiger Project hopes to pull the Sumatran Tigers back from the brink of extinction.
They have set up a wild life protection unit in Sumatra, which monitors the tigers and their habitats.
But if forest destruction, illegal logging and poaching continues, the Sumatran Tiger could be next in line for extinction.
Taking out top predators can have a significant effect on the balance of ecosystems, Mr Grover said.
“Those ecosystems aren’t functioning well, and in many cases where tigers are, those ecosystems are also important for supporting human populations as well,” he said.
But he said there is still hope for the world’s tiger population.
“In Nepal, it’s coming on two years now since they’ve had any illegal poaching there and in India, their most recent surveys of tiger populations have had a significant increase in the number of tigers in India,” Mr Grover said.
For more information, visit the International Tiger Project.
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