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Is There Plastic in Your Tea?

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In the U.S., there aren’t scheduled tea breaks or tea-related routines, but it is still one of the most widely consumed beverages, found in nearly 80 percent of all U.S. households.1

In 2017, Americans consumed over 84 billion servings of tea and more than 3.8 billion gallons.2 Nearly 86 percent of that was black tea, followed by 13 percent green tea and the small remaining amount a mixture of oolong, white and dark teas.

Multiple benefits are associated with drinking tea, including consuming antioxidants, polyphenols and a variety of minerals. Long-term tea drinking may improve blood pressure,3 and studies find green tea improves brain function, staving off cognitive disorders such as dementia.4 But before drinking your next cup of tea, reconsider your use of bagged tea.5

Would You Like Some Plastic With Your Tea?

Tea bags are only slightly more convenient than using loose leaf tea, yet in 2014 nearly 77 percent of the tea made in the U.S. was prepared using tea bags.6 Eighty-seven percent of millennials report regularly drinking tea, and on any given day over half the American population has a hot cup of tea.

While you might imagine the U.K. claims the honor of drinking more tea than any other country, the recognition actually went to Turkey in 2016.7 There are direct links to the amount of tea a person drinks and their risk of serious health problems. However, the majority of tea brewed in the U.S. is made with tea bags, most of which are made with plastic.

How tea bags are manufactured will vary depending upon the brand. Nearly 70 to 80 percent of an individual bag is made from compostable paper, while the remainder contains heat-resistant polypropylene.8 This is done to help prevent the bag from breaking apart in hot water. However, this also means minute pieces of plastic are likely deposited in your drink.

The bags with the highest amount of plastic are those which are crimped and pressed shut, using heat to melt plastic to seal the bag. These are standard square, rectangular or round and crimped and pressed on all sides. Manufacturers place plastic in the paper fibers, which melt when heated to seal the tea bag shut.9

Additionally, some companies treat paper tea bags with a chemical — epichlorohydrin — to prevent tears, which has been deemed a probable human carcinogen.10 It is known to react with water to form 3-MCPD, another possible human carcinogen.11

Don’t Be Fooled by Compostable or Biodegradable Labels

Manufacturers use tea bags with varying degrees of biodegradability. Some use material derived from starch treated by an enzyme to create a compound with a “plastic” character that can be spun into filaments.

As explained above, most bags, including the string and tag variety, contain polypropylene with small amounts of acrylic copolymer emulsions to prevent the bag from breaking down in hot water. But, this also means small pieces of plastic will be left in the soil if you compost the bags. A spokesperson from Twinings Tea commented:12

“We would not recommend that tea bags are used directly on the soil as a fertilizer or soil conditioner, as they are likely to take a longer time to break down. We would recommend that they are composted in a compost bin, or wormery first to optimize the availability of any nutrients for the plants.”

Another type of manufactured bags are silken tea bags, often touted as an eco-friendly choice.13 However, despite the name, the bags are made from fossil fuel-based nylon, which lasts forever. Although plant-based plastic is sometimes labeled biodegradable or compostable, just because it’s made of plant-based plastic does not automatically mean it will biodegrade.

Biodegradable means the product can be broken down by microorganisms over time. However, there is no stipulation that no toxic residue will remain, only that the product is no longer visible.

Compostable means the product undergoes a biological decomposition and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass, leaving no toxic residue. Any product making a claim of biodegradability or compostability should quote the standards used in testing, as without this the label is meaningless.14

Dangers Associated With Plastic in Your Food

Plastic will last for hundreds of years or longer, yet most of the products using plastic are used once and thrown away. Chemical additives, used to make the plastic more durable and flexible, are also harmful to the environment and human health. Phthalates, used to make plastics more durable, are loosely bound to the product.

Have you noticed how some flexible plastic products slowly get more brittle over time? This happens as the phthalates are slowly released into the environment. Similarly, when you dip your plasticized tea bag in a cup of hot water, you speed the release of tiny plastic pieces and phthalates from the tea bag.

The dangers associated with phthalates are related to their effect on your hormonal system. They are remarkably powerful hormone disruptors, and recent research confirms they’re capable of causing males in all species to develop feminine characteristics.15

Data have demonstrated pregnant women exposed to phthalates have a higher risk of miscarriage.16 The chemicals have also been shown to feminize male genitals and to increase the risk of asthma.17

Phthalates also have negative health effects on adults. In one study, research demonstrated a link between low levels of vitamin D and an increased intake of phthalates.18 These results are important as vitamin D is essential for brain, bone and heart health. Low levels have been linked to a higher risk for depression,19 mental decline20 and chronic migraine headaches.21

Disturbingly, an alarming 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food and food-contact materials in the U.S., either directly or indirectly. You’ll find a discussion of the impact plastics have on your health in my previous article, “Are These Perilous Chemicals in Your Food?

Benefits From Tea Are Extensive

There may be good reason black tea is one of the more popular tea drinks. With each sip, it provides you with multiple antioxidants, polyphenols, tannins and various minerals with impressive health benefits. For example, black tea has been shown to:

  • Improve your gut microbiome22
  • Aid in weight loss23
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Improve mental focus and energy levels24
  • Fight free radicals,25 thereby improving cardiovascular health26 and reducing your risk of cancer27

High quality green tea is also well-recognized for its disease prevention and antiaging properties. Polyphenols may account for up to 30 percent of the dry leaf weight of green tea, including flavonoids and catechins. One of the most powerful catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG has been found to positively impact a number of conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. EGCG also helps prevent plaque formation in your arteries and brain, enhances brain function and prevents age-associated brain degeneration.28

Oolong tea is neither a black or green tea but is produced from the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets the four true teas apart (black, green, white and oolong) is their degree of fermentation.

Organic oolong tea, made from the buds and stems of the plant, is described as “slightly fermented and semi-oxidized,”29 and as a result has a taste that falls between green tea and black tea. Oolong tea offers many of the same benefits of green and black tea. It is rich in antioxidants polyphenols, accounting for oolong tea’s positive effects.

Brewing Loose Leaf Tea for a Perfect Cup

Due to limited space, tea bags often are filled with leftover smaller leaves and dust produced when higher grade loose leaf tea is gathered. When you brew full leaf loose tea, there is room for the leaves to unfurl and move freely in the water, resulting in a more full-flavored, richer taste.

Loose leaf tea is also better for the environment as bags are not fully biodegradable or compostable. Brewing the perfect cup of loose leaf tea takes only a minute or two longer than using a packaged bag. It’s all about getting timing, temperature and duration right for the variety of true or herbal tea you’re brewing.30

For instance, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea, Lisa Guy, recommends brewing white and green teas at 158 F (70 C) and black tea at 185 F (85 C). Amino acids, responsible for the rich flavor, are released at lower temperatures. Steeping tea for a long period of time or using boiling water will increase the amount of tannins and result in a more astringent or bitter flavor.31

Brewing a flavorful pot of tea begins with fresh, pure water. To ensure the right temperature, either turn off the kettle before boiling or pour boiling water into a glass or ceramic cup, allowing it to cool before adding the tea leaves. Avoid using metal as it can give the tea an unwanted flavor.32

Add about 1 teaspoon of tea or herbs for every 6-ounce cup you plan to drink. Loose tea can be steeped in a reusable infuser or tea strainer.33 Timing is also important. Guy recommends white tea should be steeped for one to three minutes, while green tea should steep for one to two minutes. Black tea will Infuse the water with full flavor in just 45 seconds to one minute.34

Overall, tea is part of a healthy diet. Although some studies use far higher amounts of EGCG than you’d be able to comfortably get from drinking tea, if you enjoy it, a few cups a day is certainly a healthy and flavorful addition. Just be sure to drink your tea “straight,” as adding milk and/or sugar will counter many of the benefits. Lemon juice, on the other hand, will enhance the antioxidant content.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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