When we think of tea, what normally comes to mind? Is it the brand name, Lipton’s? Or is it caffeine? Or is it the use of the warmth of the hot tea in soothing sore throats? I’m sure other ideas related to tea pop into your head too. Many people tend to think of tea as just an alternative to coffee or hot chocolate or even cider; however, it is more than just another hot drink option. There are some qualities about tea that are taken into consideration when dealing with issues surrounding health and wellness.
The focus will be on green tea in particular. According to Medline Plus, green tea is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, which is a perennial evergreen shrub. This type of tea has been utilized for approximately 5,000 years and it had its start in China. It has been consumed for more than several centuries in India, Japan, and Thailand, as well. Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are all derivations of the same plant. India and Sri Lanka are the major players in the game of producing green tea.
Now there are supposedly at least 17 different uses of tea, based on evidence provided by the scientific community. I say “supposedly” because the scientific evidence for some of these uses of green tea actually remains unclear, according to Medline Plus. Nevertheless, I will list the various applications of green tea usage. It is supposed to help limit the severity of or help prevent the emergence of negative things related to the following conditions:
4) Cancer (general)
5) Cardiovascular conditions
6) Common cold
7) Dental cavities
10) High cholesterol
13) Menopausal symptoms
14) Decline in mental performance/alertness
15) Ultraviolet light skin injuries
16) Viral infection (human T-cell lymphocytic virus)
17) Weight loss
In addition to helping people to deal with the above conditions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea may help facilitate the reduction of inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two conditions related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). If green tea proves to be a useful agent in the fight for the prevention of colon cancer, this would be an added benefit for those with IBD because they suffer the risk of getting colon cancer.
Population-based studies (that track the ways of large groups of people over a normally large span of time) have revealed that males who drink at least 11 cups of green tea per day are more likely to avoid disorders of the liver. For those who like to consume alcohol, green tea also seems to protect the liver from the harmful effects of such a toxin; however, more research is needed to make the claim concerning green tea’s ability to protect the liver from the effects of alcohol.
Concerning diabetes, traditionally, green tea has been used to regulate blood sugar in the body. As suggested by animal studies, green tea may help prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes and slow the progression if it indeed has developed.
So why is green tea able to be so helpful? According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, much of what makes green tea so wonderful in terms of its healthful properties is attributed to polyphenols. Polyphenols are chemicals that have potent antioxidant properties. The antioxidant effects of vitamin C appear to be dwarfed by such effects of polyphenols. Also, that bit of bitter flavor we taste in green tea comes from polyphenols.
Polyphenols that are included in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied catechin compound and is the most active.
Green tea is helpful, but there are some precautions to consider before consuming it. People who suffer from heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders should not drink green tea or take green tea capsules. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid green tea, as well.
People who simply take in too much caffeine (not to exclude caffeine from green tea) for a very long period of time risk experiencing irritability, insomnia, heart palpitation, and dizziness. If someone has an overdose of caffeine, he or she could vomit, suffer from diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite. If a person has been drinking a lot of tea and starts to vomit or have abdominal spasms, caffeine poisoning could be the culprit. To prevent such cases from occurring, lower caffeine intake, and see a personal healthcare provider, if the severity of symptoms is high.
If green tea is consumed properly, one can actually prolong his or her life! So, with keeping the idea of moderate drinking of green tea in mind, go ahead and grab of cup of green tea and enjoy!
1) Medline Plus (An [online] service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health) (Search for “green tea”)
2) University of Maryland Medical Center (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm)