Yourwellness – The Gateway to living well
There are two stereotypes that we Brits have been attributed with having, mainly by those across the pond: we have bad teeth, and we drink tea all the time. Now, anyone can see the reason for the latter; a good cup of tea is a staple part of the British diet, but when it comes to the former stereotype, it’s hard to see where the bad teeth thing comes from. However, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine has put the shoe on the other foot, and shown that not only are American big tea drinkers, but this is causing them to lose their teeth altogether.
A 47 year-old woman from Michigan had severe pain in her back, arms, legs and hips, and her wellness was also affected by tooth loss and other bone problems. After treating her pain, her doctor, Sudhaker Rao, realised that his patient had consumed “astronomical amounts” of highly concentrated tea for nearly 20 years, and this had caused her fluoride levels to spike to more than four times the normal amount.
This copious amount of tea drinking put the woman’s wellbeing at risk, with her bones becoming so brittle that her teeth had to be extracted. Rao commented, ‘Her bone density was very high, seven times denser than normal – it was like steel.’ There is a high amount of fluoride in US-brewed tea, and Rao believes that this was causing her bone problems. He noted, ‘There have been about three to four cases reported in the US associated with ingesting tea, especially large amounts of it. Most of us can excrete fluoride extremely well, but if you drink too much, it can be a problem.’
On a daily basis, the patient had been downing a pitcher of tea, which contains roughly 20 milligrams of fluoride. Since she has been prescribed a tea-free diet, the patient has recovered, but wellness experts have said that her case should not be forgotten. According to New York City doctor Joseph Lane, chief of the metabolic bone disease service at Weill Cornell Medical College, the tea case, and his own experience, shows that extreme consumption of almost any substance can be harmful. He noted a patient of his “overdosed” on fish oil. ‘Then she had a minor injury and bled a lot, almost like haemophilia – it turns out the patient had too much vitamin E in the blood,’ he explained. This goes to show that everything really should be taken in moderation – even, dare I say it, tea.