Green Tea: Sip Your Way to Better Health
Want a simple way to up your health game? Drink green tea. To know why and how…keep reading.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols (plant molecules). Green tea contains many different polyphenols however the most well studied and praised is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Antioxidants protect your body from free radicles that cause oxidative stress. In simpler terms, antioxidants are the opposite of free radicles, aka pro-oxidants. Free radicles when left unchecked cause oxidative stress which can harm the body, cause inflammation and accelerate aging.
Free radicles are by-products of normal healthy biological processes. However, humans are increasingly being exposed to man-made and unnatural free radical generating substances in polluted air and water, pesticides, chemicals, food (mainly processed), etc. With these exposures all around us, it’s important to arm yourself with an antioxidant-rich diet. In addition to eating lots of colorful vegetables and fruit, drinking a cup of green tea daily packs a big antioxidant punch.
Beyond its role in fighting free radicals, green tea also increases phase 2 liver detoxification. The liver carries out Phase 1 and 2 detoxification which is a series of biochemical reactions that make compounds less toxic and water soluble so that they can be excreted in the bile or through the kidneys. Think of it as phase 1 detoxification is like taking your trash out to the curb phase 2 is the garbage truck coming to pick up the trash. Proper phase 1 and 2 detox is essential for optimal health.
Green tea has antimicrobial activity against bacteria, yeast, and viruses (1) which means it kills these organisms or stops their growth. This property makes it’s helpful in treating chronic infections and preventing colds and flus (2).
Green tea has been shown to boost the neurotransmitter dopamine and have positive effects on mood. Green tea also contains the amino acid (protein building block) l-theanine that is helpful in treating anxiety due to its ability to increase calming neurotransmitters.
Amazing stuff right? As you can see, green tea is beneficial for just about everyone. Here are a few of the conditions found to benefit from green tea:
Diabetes and gestational diabetes (3)
Arthritis and joint inflammation (4)
Chronic infections such as HPV, HIV, and hepatitis (5)
Cold and flu prevention (6)
Anxiety and depression (7)
Cardiovascular disease and protecting against atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) (8)
Protecting the nervous system (neuroprotective) from diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons (9)
Cancer prevention (10)
Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne
How to incorporate green tea:
The most obvious is to drink green tea, iced or hot. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, you’re not alone, I didn’t like it at first either, and many of my patients complain of the taste. The good news is the taste will eventually grow on you. In the meantime, you can simply add a wedge of lemon or add another flavored tea bag when you’re brewing your green tea to mask the taste. Some of my favorite teas to pair with green tea are mint, hibiscus, and ginger. Get creative!
Matcha Latte: see recipe here. Matcha is dried and powdered green tea.
Smoothies: add a dash of matcha powder to smoothies.
Chia seed pudding and other breakfast foods: add a pinch of matcha to chia seed pudding, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.. It’s bitter so start small and increase the amount to your taste. Raw honey, vanilla extract, and coconut/almond milk are great ways to mask the bitter.
Sensitive to caffeine? Get decaf!
Do you have a great green tea or matcha recipe? Leave me a comment below!
Cheers to your health!
Nicole McCarter, ND