From longevity to brain function and weight loss, green tea packs an incredible amount of health promoting power in a simple little package. Drinking green tea will help keep you hydrated, while also enhancing your whole body health.
It’s like a friend with benefits. Loaded with antioxidants and plant compounds called polyphenols, green tea is anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and hypocholesterolemic.
What do these words mean?
Basically, green tea protects the cells in your body from damage from toxins and free radicals, helps boost your immune system to protect you from bacteria and viruses, and helps lower your blood sugar and your cholesterol levels.
Who wouldn’t want that?
As women age and move towards peri-menopause, declining or erratic estrogen levels and other factors impact our ability to lose weight (or stay trim — especially around our waistline) and we become more at risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, declining brain function and certain cancers.
Green tea is one simple way we can arm ourselves against these threats to our health and longevity.
Let’s consider the power of Green Tea..
1. Weight loss
Firstly, staying hydrated is an important way to kickstart your metabolism and help with digestion so your weight loss endeavours are more likely to succeed. I recommend drinking 2-3 litres (8-12 cups) of water through the day — every day!
Physiologically, your body will often mistake thirst for hunger. This is largely because the thirst signal is weak and usually doesn’t kick in until you are already 1-2% dehydrated.
It’s also because many of the symptoms of hunger and thirst overlap — like dizziness, headache, nausea, irritability and feeling faint or weak.
The 5-Minute Water Trick
If you aren’t sure what your body is telling you, drink 1-2 cups of water and wait 5 minutes. If you were truly hungry, you will still feel the urge to eat. At that point, reach for something healthy and fresh, rather than something from a package or a bakery. Besides helping to keep you hydrated and your metabolism primed, studies show that green tea can promote more effective loss of body weight and body fat, especially in your stomach, which is where the dangerous fat is hiding — the kind that leads to heart disease and diabetes.
Researchers believe this effect is due to a boost in the metabolic rate and the rate of fat oxidation — making it easier to burn off fat. Although results may be different from person to person, this is very promising.
The best part — it’s an easy strategy to put into action and help ward off peri- menopausal and menopausal weight gain!
2. Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease and stroke are, by far, the biggest killers in the world, and they become much more prominent in women after menopause.
Women are 9 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer!
Studies show that drinking green tea has a positive impact on some of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood. This protects your LDL (bad) cholesterol particles from being oxidized, which is one of the steps along the path to heart disease.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Decreased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become a global epidemic, affecting more than 450 million people around the world. It involves high blood sugar levels as a result of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea flavonoids behave similarly to insulin in your body and can also enhance the activity of insulin itself. This means that green tea can help to decrease your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity on a couple of different levels.
Studies show green tea is associated with a 18-40% decrease in your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Yes please!!!
4. Decreased Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a growing health problem that affects more than 55% of people over age 50 in the US.
It’s normal to lose bone mineral density gradually as you get older, but it’s extra important for women to preserve what we’ve got because peri-menopause triggers a period of heavily accelerated bone loss (1-2% per year) that lasts 6-10 years — after which time, it stabilizes and goes back to a rate of bone loss associated with ‘normal aging’!!
It’s important to include bone-strengthening nutrients, like calcium, vitamin D and magnesium in your diet and do regular weight-bearing and strength exercise to preserve what you’ve got.
What else can you do?
Studies suggest green tea can help strengthen bone bone and prevent age-related bone loss and risk of fractures due to aging and menopause.
So ladies, drinking green tea is a great tool to have in your arsenal to keep osteoporosis away!
5. Improved Brain Function
Short term brain function — Green tea contains some caffeine, but not like coffee — just enough to enjoy some of the stimulatory benefits, but without the jitters. This helps with brain function because caffeine can improve your mood, reaction time and memory.
Green tea also contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid known to affect neurotransmitters and alpha wave production in the brain. It is linked with increased creativity and learning as well as decreased anxiety and depression.
The combination of caffeine and L-theanine in green tea seems to have synergistic effects, making it extremely potent for improving brain function.
Many people also notice their energy is more stable and they feel much more productive when they drink green tea compared to when they drink coffee — Not that coffee culture is going anywhere anytime soon!!
Long term brain function — not only can green tea boost your brain function in the short term, but it may also protect your brain as you age!
Multiple studies have linked the polyphenol compounds in green tea with protection of brain cells, reduced plaque formation and decreased risk of dementia, especially in people who are pre-disposed to it.
Results are dramatic enough that green tea polyphenols are being researched as brain-altering therapy for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I’ll drink to that!!!
6. Decreased Risk of Some Cancers
Research shows a strong link between oxidative damage, chronic inflammation and cancer, and points to antioxidants having a protective effect.
Green tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants and has been linked with a reduced risk of cancers, like breast, prostate and colorectal cancer among others.
In fact, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) is considered the most potent of the polyphenols in green tea and has antioxidant activity up to 100 times more effective than vitamins C and E.
Studies suggest that drinking 3 or more cups of green tea daily can decrease the incidence, recurrence and spread of breast cancer by between 20-30%. This effect seems to be even more profound when combined with other bioactive foods, like mushrooms and soy.
Similarly, studies have shown regular consumption of green tea is associated with a 42% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer and a 48% lower risk of prostate cancer in men.
More studies are needed to validate and understand these relationships more fully, but the benefits are very promising!
How Much Green Tea Should You Drink?
While very high doses of green tea may be problematic for some, most people tolerate it very well.
Studies suggest that drinking 3 to 5 cups of green tea every day will optimize potential health benefits.
Please note that it’s best to avoid putting milk in your green tea because as this may decrease its antioxidant value and health benefits.
Some things to be aware of:
The catechins in green tea may decrease absorption of non-heme iron (i.e. plant-based sources of iron).
Most healthy people needn’t worry about this, but if you are at risk for iron deficiency, it would be wise to only drink green tea in between meals — waiting at least 1 hour after eating before brewing a cup!
Current research indicates that should not have more than 300mg of caffeine per day.
While the amount of caffeine in a cup of green tea depends on the amount of tea and how long you steep it for, the average cup contains about 22-40mg of caffeine — so, you’re only getting 120-200mg of caffeine in 3-5 cups.
Blood Thinning Medication
Green tea contains vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. If you are taking blood thinning medication, like Warfarin or Coumadin, you should check with your doctor before drinking large amounts of green tea. It could make your medication ineffective.
Overall – regularly drinking green tea offers many health benefits. Whether you’re at risk for chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, want to lose weight or just want to ensure you live a long, healthy life — adding green tea to your repertoire is a great idea!
To your health!
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