Drink Rooibos for optimal health this winter

Winter is often characterised by unsettled weather, a lack of sunshine, colds and flu, and reduced physical activity. Any combination of these factors can upset the body’s equilibrium. This can lead to indigestion, joint pain, dehydration, a sluggish metabolism, high blood pressure, depression, and lingering colds and flu.

This is where a cup of hot Rooibos can help. It has been scientifically proven that Rooibos can strengthen the immune system, reduce anxiety and high blood pressure, fight inflammation and viruses, and control the production of the stress hormone cortisol known to cause hormonal disturbances.

Prof Christo Muller, Chief Scientist at the SA Medical Research Council, says cold weather usually results in less blood supply to the extremities since blood is moved to the interior of the body to protect vital organs against the cold. However, he explains that this also has a downside. Especially in the elderly and compromised individuals, slower blood circulation tends to impair the immune system and diminish its ability to stave off cold and flu viruses for example.

He says that drinking hot Rooibos tea throughout the day will help to warm up the body, soothe anxiety and relax tense muscles. The antioxidants in Rooibos will also boost the immune system.

Rooibos contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities which help to fight colds, flu and other diseases. In addition, Rooibos polyphenols, such as aspalathin, help to control the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause hormonal disturbances.

Prof Muller says wintertime typically correlates with increased blood pressure which tenses up blood vessels. Rooibos is known as a bronchodilator, which relieves respiratory conditions while reducing high blood pressure. It works similar to ACE inhibitors and helps blood vessels to open up.

Winter darkness and lack of outdoor activity can negatively affect one’s mood and in some cases cause seasonal affective disorder – type of depression that emerges during winter.

Prof Muller says one of the best ways to naturally improve our mood is by eating a wholesome diet containing fruit, vegetables and fish that help protect against oxidative stress – a risk factor for developing disorders such as depression. Adding Rooibos to your daily diet supplements your intake of polyphenols. Experts recommend drinking up to six cups a day for optimal health benefits.

Rooibos has anti-spasmodic properties which helps to soothe the digestive tract. In addition, Rooibos may also help to prevent and alleviate joint pain and arthritis, which tend to worsen during winter.