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Body and Mind

Green Tea for Health


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Many people, including some health care professionals, think of the mind and body as separate. As a result, mental and physical health is viewed as unrelated.

The difference between green tea and black tea

Both green and black teas are derived from the same plant called Camillia sinensis. The difference in preparation determines whether green or black tea is produced. Black tea is withered, rolled, fermented and dried for curing. As a result, the bioactive polyphenols of the fresh leaf are oxidized and black tea loses its full complement of beneficial polyphenols. On the other hand, green tea is prepared from lightly steamed and dried leaves of the tea plant. The steaming process inactivates the enzymes responsible for oxidation leaving the polyphenol content inactive and resulting in a product with a chemical composition very similar to that of the fresh leaf. Needless to say, green tea has more health benefits than black tea.

Catechins

One group of polyphenols found in green tea which is particularly potent is catechins. Catechins are about 30% of the dry weight of green tea but only 9% of that of black tea. Catechins have the following benefits:

  1. Support healthy cell functions
  2. Prevent premature cell death
  3. Provide antioxidant protection to important cell structures such as the DNA
  4. Interfere with the production of t-NOX, an enzyme involved in the growth phase of mutagenic cells
  5. Enhance the body’s metabolic rate and thermogenic activity
  6. Improve glucose and lipid metabolism
  7. Block allergic reaction
  8. Promote healthy blood vessel wall
  9. Act as an anti-inflammatory agent to protect against heart disease

Catechins contain the following compounds:

  • Epicatechin (EC)
  • Epigallocatechin (EGC)
  • Epicatechin gallate (ECG)
  • Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

Of these the most important is EGCG because of its biologically active antioxidant property. EGCG inhibits tumour cell growth. As a result, it is found to be protective against a number of cancers including cancer of the prostate, lung, breast, colon and pancreas. The anticancer property of EGCG is due to the following reasons:

  1. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals which can cause tissue damage and mutation of the body cells
  2. It blocks the action of urokinase which is an enzyme responsible for the breaking down of the basement membrane of cell junctions which is a key step in the process of tumor cell growth and metastasis
  3. It inhibits the activity of certain enzymes such as 5-alpha-reductase which is associated with cancer of the prostate
  4. In animal studies, it inhibits growth and induces regression of the human prostate and breast cancer cells

The health benefits of green tea

Green tea is a simple beverage with a host of health benefits. They include:

  1. Prevention of oxidative stress experienced by the cells, thus ensuring optimal cellular health and protecting against premature aging
  2. Protection against cancers, especially cancers of the prostate and breast
  3. Protection against heart disease
  4. Alleviation of allergic conditions
  5. Maintenance of healthy skin
  6. Maintenance of dental health
  7. Enhancement of healthy weight loss in overweight individuals

Conclusion

Green tea is good for your health. Try to incorporate the consumption of green tea in your daily beverages. Remember to leave the tea leaves in the hot water for at least 10 minutes in order to get 95% of the catechins into the tea.

Research shows that you need about 400 to 600mg of catechins daily to obtain the optimal health benefits. Since catechins have a low bioavailability, you need to drink about 14 cups of green tea daily to obtain that amount of catechins.

Alternatively, you may choose to take a natural supplement containing catechins, especially if you are taking a proactive approach to your health and wanting to prevent one of the diseases mentioned above. If you do, make sure that the supplement is caffeine free and contains the optimal amount of catechins.


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