Can your cup of Rooibos tea give you a performance boost? Scientists at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the Prime Human Performance Institute in Durban are trying to find out!
Already known for its many health benefits, scientists will test home-grown Rooibos to determine the extent to which the tea could aid sportsmen and women.
In a previous study led by Prof Jeanine Marnewick at CPUT’s Oxidative Stress Research Centre, researchers found that Rooibos plays a preventative role in exercise-induced oxidative stress. In other words, Rooibos’ abundance of antioxidants works in unison to limit cell damage caused by free radicals that occurs during high-intensity bursts of exercise.
Prof Simeon Davies, who heads up CPUT’s Sports Management Department, explains that these studies have demonstrated that during repeated exhaustive exercise bouts Rooibos can reduce physical fatigue allowing for improved performance.
This new, more comprehensive study builds on the findings of this previous research, to more accurately evaluate the efficacy of Rooibos during strenuous exercise. Prof Davies says if Rooibos proves successful in the studies that are to follow, it could become a staple food supplement.
“As a scientist, I continue to be surprised by Rooibos’ health benefits. Of particular interest to the scientific community, is the flavonoid, Aspalathin, which is unique to Rooibos and is what gives it its powerful antioxidant punch. Aspalathin is known to reduce excessive fat production, balance blood sugar, improve glucose absorption in the muscle and increase insulin secretion in the pancreas,” he says.
The study, which will take place at the Prime Human Performance Institute at Moses Mabhida Stadium, will lend scientific credibility to the value that Rooibos supplementation can have on naturally improving athletic performance – something which many adaptogens (plant species that encourage the body to adapt to physical and mental stress) lack.