Green Tea, botanically known as Camelia synensis, is perhaps the world’s healthiest drink. Having originated in China, Green Tea is used as a medicine as well as a refreshing aromatic beverage in many parts of the world. White collar diseases, cancers and several other health disorders are byproducts of stress, anxiety and the sedentary lifestyle involved in modern day living. Consistent studies have revealed that Green Tea is anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-depressant and it also fights bad breath, controls bad cholesterol etc. “Magic Potion” – if that sounds like over exaggerated description of Green Tea, then read on…
Resists development of Cancer cells:
Laboratory studies have confirmed that Green Tea contains a naturally occurring chemical called “polyphenol”, an antioxidant that has anti-carcinogenic and anti- inflammatory properties. The human body keeps generating cell damaging reactive chemicals also known as “free radicals”. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate or (EGCG) is a bioactive polyphenol present in Green Tea that has been found effective in eliminating free radicals. Green Tea is a warehouse of both these chemicals. It contains up to 50% of polyphenols w/w and almost 80% of this is EGCG.
A meta-analysis conducted recently, revealed the fact that Green Tea has the potential to reduce the risk of development of certain kinds of cancers like the mouth cancer and lung cancer. It was observed that women who drank Green Tea were less prone to developing cancer of the food pipe. Despite the fact that most studies on anti-carcinogenic properties of Green Tea have remained inconclusive, researchers still believe that it does help in resisting the development of cancer cells. This is based on the reality that people in countries with higher consumption of Green Tea tend to develop a higher degree of resistance towards cancer than those where the consumption of Green Tea is lesser.
Prevents Type-2 diabetes:
In 2004, a study on effects of Green Tea on Blood Glucose levels, conducted by a group of Japanese researchers concluded that healthy human volunteers who consumed Green Tea displayed stimulation of 1.5g/body during the glucose tolerance test. Green Tea miraculously lowered the blood glucose levels of diabetic mice. How does this happen? – Green Tea obstructs the enzyme amylase that is secreted by the salivary glands, thus lowering the rate at which the sugar in the starches is released in the blood. This requires lesser amount of insulin to transport the glucose in the blood and this is how Green Tea curbs the release of large amounts of insulin.
Burns Fats and helps weight loss:
Unlike many weight reducing pills, Green Tea increases the metabolism slowly and that too without affecting the normal heat rate. The polyphenols and caffeine present in Green Tea activates a gradual process of heat generation known as “Thermogenesis” in the human body. This in turn triggers the oxidation and burning process of fats. A recent study conducted in the U.S. suggested that overweight men who drank Green Tea thrice a day burnt 200 extra calories per day and the good news is that they dint have to change their regular diets, lifestyles and gym regimes.
Reduces the risk of heart disease:
Thrombosis or abnormal clogging of arteries is the most common reason behind heart attacks worldwide. Thrombosis is caused by over accumulation of “Triglycerides”, a type of fat in the blood that is used by our body for energy generation. Higher levels of triglycerides in the blood add up as nasty fats in the form of adipose tissues and clog up the arteries. These extra fats, like bad cholesterol, react adversely with the oxygen in the bloodstream. Certain ingredients of Green Tea act like “fat absorbers” by slowing down the absorption and metabolism of triglycerides in the digestive track and then passing them out. So drinking Green Tea is like taking a preventive dose of Aspirin!
Lowers high blood pressure:
Our kidneys secrete an enzyme called as “angiotensin converting enzyme” (ACE). Over secretion of ACE leads to narrowing of the blood vessels due to the contraction of their muscular walls, thus causing high blood pressure or hypertension, as it is commonly known. Green Tea is a natural wonder drug that contains ACE inhibiting ingredients. Findings from a study aimed to measure the ACE inhibition (IC50 Values) of various plant extracts mentions that the IC50 value of Camelia synensis or green tea is 125 µg/mL. This is considered as one of the highest amongst similar other medicinal plant extracts.
Shields against Alzheimer’s disease:
Henry L. Paulson, renowned neurologist and professor at the department of neurology of Michigan State University is one of the several Doctors, who acknowledge the power of a flavonoid (EGCG) in the green tea. Most neurologists are of the opinion that EGCG inhibits the accumulation of “amyloid plaque”, widely believed as the root cause behind deterioration of brain. According to a research, the EGCG present in Green Tea binds with beta-amyloid, a kind of protein that ultimately forms amyloid plaques and alters it to prevent it from forming plaques. This finding is supported by an experiment carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Leeds, where they added the extracts of Green Tea to that of globules of amyloid protein. They observed that the bioflavonoids present in Green Tea hindered the sticking of plaques to the nerve cells, thus endorsing the fact that Green Tea does protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the Harvard University observed that the natural chemical ingredients of Green Tea helped in stimulating the Gammadelta T Cells. The gammadelta cells are like our first line of defence against various diseases and infections. In other words, regular consumption of Green Tea immunizes our system from basic forms of harmful bacteria, virus and fungi.
Researchers in a laboratory based in Japan identified a compound known as methylated epigallocatechin gallate present in Green Tea. This compound blocks a major cell receptor that is responsible in activating an allergic reaction. Methylated epigallocatechin gallate also blocks two other compounds – histamine and Immunoglobulin-E that trigger and facilitate allergic reactions in our body.
Prevents development of Arthritis:
A protein known as cytokine interleukin-1 beta or IL-1B plays a major role in degradation of cartilage of bone joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The EGCG present in Green Tea blocks the IL-1B’s capability to produce proteins and enzymes that penetrate the joints and damage the cartilage between the bone joints. Apart from this, EGCG also blocks the activity of three other molecules – the IL-6, Cox-2 and prostaglandin E2 that cause inflammation of joints. This is how Green Tea works as good as anti-inflammatory drugs.
Green Tea prevents Bad Breath:
Microorganisms present in the mouth destroy proteinaceous substrates and produce cysteine and methionine that are ultimately converted into Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC’s). These VSC’s are a major cause of bad breath. A group of Japanese scientists studying the effect of green tea on volatile sulphur compounds in mouth air concluded that Green Tea was highly effective in controlling the malodour of mouth because of its disinfectant and deodorant properties. Green Tea consists of polyphenols that have antimicrobial properties that controls the number of microorganisms in the oral cavity.
Safeguards against Hepatitis:
Green Tea consists of polyphenolic catechins (CATs), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC) and several other ingredients that have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antitumorigenic (anti-tumour forming) properties. EGCG in the Green Tea displays a remarkable antiviral action against hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus. To explain that simply –EGCG prevents the HCV or hepatitis C virus from entering the liver cells, thus safeguarding the Green Tea drinkers against Hapatitis.
Effective against Food Poisoning:
Food poisoning occurs when harmful bacteria contaminate the food and food products that are half cooked or improperly stored under unhygienic conditions. It causes vomiting, dehydration and severe abdominal pain and generally lasts for a few days. However, chronic food poisoning can be fatal. Green Tea consists of catechins, which have an astringent taste, but possess powerful anti-bacterial properties capable of killing the harmful bacteria in such foods. This was proven by a group of scientists from the Showa University of Japan, who claimed to have killed millions of virulent bacterium called E-coil-157 after they were bred in 1 cc of green tea for five hours. Green tea also retards the growth of Salmorella and the catechins in the Green Tea adhere to the proteins and obstruct the bacteria from attacking the food surface. Apart from the killing action, the catechins also destroy the toxins caused by the bacteria.
Eases Stress and Fatigue:
Acute fatigue usually disappears after a good rest, however bad effects of persistent fatigue can be irreversible. An experiment was conducted on rats that were subjected to fatigue inducing activity of swimming with loads tied to their body. It was observed that rats who had been administered a certain dose of EGCG swam for a longer duration than those that were administered with saline. This experiment concluded that the EGCG present in Green Tea has antioxidant effect on liver damaged due to oxidation due to stress. Hence, Green Tea can prove beneficial to human beings to overcome stress and fatigue in routine life.
Controls Hair Loss:
Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is a male sex hormone that is responsible for hair loss in adult males as well as females. The catechins present in Green Tea help in suppressing the DHT levels and thus help in curing hair loss naturally. Other ingredients like carotenoids, zinc, tacopherols, selenium and ascorbic acid also prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth, simultaneously.
Green Tea boosts memory:
A simple experiment carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Basel, Switzerland revealed that a group of volunteers who drank a beverage containing 27.5 grams of green tea extract, performed better on memory related tasks. The study concluded that Green Tea stimulates the interaction between various brain areas resulting in a better ability to recollect the information. In a nutshell, it increases the amount of neural juices that aids memory.
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