Because of my unimpressive circadian rhythms, I have never fallen into that category of a “morning person.” For this reason, I’ve had to rely on caffeine–particularly the caffeine green tea amply supplies. I’m not an afternoon or night person, either, so I’ll usually have more caffeine throughout the day. Recently, I’ve been trying to wean myself off of soda and those treacherous energy drinks and rely solely on the energy-boosting benefits green tea has to offer. Not only will energy drinks and their ilk put me in a casket, but green tea has a cornucopia of health benefits; the more I find out about this amazing herbal remedy, the more I believe it will delay the time my family has to come up with a fitting epitaph, like “He was not a morning person.”
Green tea, which is made from the dried leaves of the shrub “camellia sinensis,” has been around for centuries, and with good reason. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, a certain type of antioxidant that gives green tea its amazing health benefits. In fact, the bulk of green tea’s weight when dried consists of these antioxidants. A growing body of research suggests compounds found in green tea detoxify those harmful, disease-causing “free radicals” and protect cells–and, in effect, your DNA. For over a decade, the number of annual green tea studies has been growing. Read on to sample the fruits of this research and become a disciple of the green tea leaf.
Health Risks of Green Tea
Green tea and caffeine generally should be used sparingly by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Though green tea has much less caffeine than coffee and most soft drinks, it should still be avoided by those prone to nervousness or anxiety. Caffeine is considered a drug by the FDA; constant use can lead to increased tolerance and caffeine dependency.
Green Tea Benefits
Drinking several cups of green tea a day (or green tea extract with water) can help you get rid of fat. This is generally one of the more controversial uses for green tea; however, the body of research that keeps growing may finally prove green tea and weight loss go hand in hand. One major factor in its weight loss properties are the “catechins” (a type of polyphenol) found in green tea. A recent study showed that the catechins combat the body’s tendency to accumulate fat and also help the body burn calories. Another study related that the catechins in green tea help bring the body into “thermogenesis”–a state in which the body burns fat for energy. Though skepticism remains, green tea may one day be prescribed for weight loss.
Another benefit of green tea is that it may be used to combat common viruses like the flu and infections like strep throat. It is widely known that influenza attacks the respiratory and digestive systems. Specific polyphenols in green tea (EGCG, ECG) stimulate T-cells that heal damage to the lungs and intestines, so you’ll be free of snot and off the toilet in no time. Drinking green tea mixed with a little honey will not only soothe the pain of strep throat, but because of the aforementioned compounds and green tea’s antibacterial properties, you’ll be back at work sooner–which may or may not be a good thing.
Drinking green tea or green tea extract on a daily basis may prevent heart disease. Because we work all day in America, and eat like Americans tend to eat, heart disease is rampant. While green tea is not a replacement for exercise and a reasonable diet, recent studies suggest it can help significantly. Consistently drinking green tea or taking green tea extracts can dilate blood vessels, allowing for better circulation. Compounds in green tea also help to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL), which will protect you from atherosclerosis.
The many benefits green tea has for the brain may finally get you to change your morning source of caffeine.Though some would say the research is still in its infancy, its sheer volume and diversity of focus has put a mug in many hands. Recent studies suggest that green tea may improve learning ability, memory, and overall cognitive function, as well as prevent the mental decline that comes with age. Other studies suggest that compounds in green tea ensure ample supplies of dopamine to needy areas of the brain, which leads to improved moods and productivity.
One of the greatest benefits green tea offers is that it may actually ward off . . . death. That’s right, Death, you misanthropic opportunist. OK, OK, you’re probably thinking this is straight from the mouth of a bead-adorned, hat-knitting, pot-smoking, skirt-over-jeans wearing holistic guru–but research exists to tentatively back up this claim. According to a Japanese study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, if you drink green tea, you’ll have a lower risk of–no joke–death. The study followed almost 35,000 Japanese people for over a decade. It found that those who drank 16 oz. of green tea daily had an increased life expectancy. While more research needs to be done, I say cheers to green tea health.
More Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea can be used to protect the skin from sun damage, inflammation, and possibly aging. Green tea skin care is a burgeoning industry; skin products containing green tea or “green tea polyphenols” can be purchased in almost any beauty aisle. Before purchasing a commercial green tea skin care product, make sure that “green tea,” “green tea extract,” or “green tea polyphenols” is listed as the first ingredient. Simply drinking enough green tea (three to four mugs a day) will get you some of green tea’s skin benefits through the bloodstream. If you’ve had a late night and have acquired puffy or raccoon-like eyes, simply apply cool, damp tea bags to each eye for 10 minutes.
Green tea may protect the brain from damage caused by sleep apnea. Sleep apea, or OSA, is a common and frightening disorder in which one stops breathing while asleep, depriving the brain and body of oxygen. Sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health problems and can impair learning and memory. The findings of a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggest that the polyphenols in green tea can protect the brain from the oxidative stress and damage caused by sleep apnea.
Green tea can be used to get rid of foot odor. Find yourself a basin and fill it with hot water and about five tea bags. As an astringent, the green tea will help to reduce how much your feet perspire. Less sweat means less bacterial growth, odor, sour looks, and barely-suppressed gags.
Cancer and Green Tea
Green tea is often cited on holistic or herbal healing sites as preventing or even fighting cancer. The truth is that while some promising research is being done concerning specific cancers, there is no conclusive evidence that green tea is a viable treatment for cancer. Recently, a study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research showed that green tea, specifically green tea’s antioxidant ECGC, may prevent prostate cancer. Another study cited that same antioxidant as potentially being able to slow the growth of breast cancer. While these and similar studies give hope to patients, doctors, and researchers, further green tea cancer research is needed.