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Rooibos tea may be less healthy than expected

  1. In winter, the body sweats less and the feeling of thirst is reduced. At the same time, we lose moisture through breathing and the mucous membranes dry out. An adequate supply of moisture is therefore essential. Especially during the cold season, tea is good and warms inside. A daily fluid intake of 1 to 2 liters of unsweetened drinks such as water and tea is recommended. Those who do not want to drink caffeinated tea often fall back on mild Rooibos tea from South Africa. But you may wonder whether it is really healthy to start the day with a pot of tea. It is true that tea gives a warm feeling, awakens and is generally considered to be very healthy. But perhaps wrongly. Because a lot of Rooibos tea in particular contains a high concentration of substances that can be harmful to the liver. Whoever drinks that tea also drinks toxic substances. At the end of 2016, there were no limit values ​​in a European context, so checks made only limited sense at that time. [! 146314 => 1130 = 124!] Toxic substances in Rooibos tea

  1. In November 2016, the German-language magazine "Gesundheitstipp" published the results of a study into twelve different brands of Rooibos tea. Each of the teas studied encountered toxic substances, the so-called Pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA). These are formed naturally by certain plants to ward off enemies. When harvesting the tea herbs mechanically, PA-containing plants can get between harvests. In its analysis, Gesundheitstipp focused on the recommendations of the German Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR), an institution more or less comparable to the RIVM in our country. The BfR advised not to take more than 0.42 micrograms of this toxic substance per day. A number of the Rooibos tea examined had questionably high concentrations. In such cases, the BfR recommendation would be exceeded by far by a single cup.

Long-term intake Pyrrolizidine alkaloid can lead to liver damage

  1. According to the institute, the PA found in foods poses a health risk to both children and adults with long-term (chronic) intake. For example, there are known examples of liver damage in people who ate grain contaminated with PA.

Increased risk in children due to tea with honey

  1. According to the BfR, the uptake of PA in children mainly occurs during the consumption of tea with honey. Especially in nutritional advice for small children unsweetened tea is often recommended as an alternative to water. Regular tea consumption in older children becomes problematic if the tea is sweetened with honey, because it also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloid. Since children have a lower body weight than adults, their tolerance value is lower.

Limit values ​​are missing in the EU

  1. Although it has been known for some time that Pyrrolizidine alkaloid can be harmful to our health, at the end of 2016 there were no limit values ​​in the European Union to which companies should focus. For example, heavily soiled tea can be sold without legal consequences. Consumer organizations in our eastern neighbors argue for better consumer protection through legal rules. But it may take a while until its implementation. There are still many questions to which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is trying to answer through large-scale research. Until then, it is worth switching between different teas to avoid unilateral exposure to potentially harmful substances. In any case, water or mineral water is better to cover the fluid requirement.

Previous research on Pyrrolizidine alkaloid in food and feed

  1. Incidentally, the research by the magazine 'Gesundheitstipp' does not stand alone. As early as 2013, the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) developed an analytical method for its determination in tea as part of a broader investigation into the presence of Pyrrolizidine alkaloid in food and feed. As part of that study, 221 different commercial herbal teas and other teas were tested for the presence of Pyrrolizidine alkaloid. The research included: fennel tea, chamomile tea, herbal tea, mint tea and nettle tea. Due to the relatively low number of samples of green tea, rooibos tea and black tea examined, the results from this risk analysis were not fully adopted for those teas.

No reliable conclusions in 2013 yet

  1. In a number of samples of the examined herbal teas and other teas, an unexpectedly high level of PA was found. But despite these sometimes unexpectedly high levels, acute health risks with short-term intake were considered unlikely. However, when consumed for a longer period of time, these health risks could occur, especially in children and pregnant women. However, because the presence of PA could vary even within individual samples of the same type of tea, reliable statements about the risk of regular consumption of contaminated tea were not yet possible.

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