Thursday, September 1, 2011

BALANCING YOUR HEALTH: Green tea has many health benefits

By Dr. Linda Johnson

Green tea is a botanical that has been shown to protect people from many types of cancer, reduces inflammation, helps protect the liver, boosts metabolism and shows many other positive health benefits.

Second only to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. China and India were among the first countries to grow tea. Main varieties of teas like green, black and oolong are processed differently. Green tea differs as it is made from unfermented leaves and contains the highest concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols.

We all know how important antioxidants are in our diet. They scavenge those nasty free radicals that alter cells and DNA. Some free radicals occur naturally in our body, but we are exposed to many environmental toxins such as radiation, cigarette smoke, air pollution and the sun.

The aging process and many diseases have shown to be impacted by free radicals. It only makes sense to do as much as we can to neutralize them and reduce or prevent the damage free radicals are capable of doing.

Green tea has been used as a medicine in China for more than 4,000 years. They used it to treat everything from depression to headaches. There have been many scientific studies conducted on humans and animals providing positive health benefits of drinking green tea.

Green tea is high in catechin polyphenols, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant that inhibits the growth of cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. Green tea is so high in EGCG because the leaves are steamed, which prevents this compound from being oxidized. Other teas such as black and oolong do not have this benefit because the EGCG is converted into other compounds due to the fermentation process. This high antioxidant level has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the chance of getting a blood clot. Blood clots are the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.

You have probably heard that you should drink a glass of red wine every night because of its resveratrol effects. Resveratrol is also a polyphenol, but green tea contains a type of polyphenol that is twice as strong as resveratrol. So if you really don't like wine, green tea is much better for you in the long run.

Green tea has been reported to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also seems to help prevent tooth decay and food poisoning because of its bacteria-destroying abilities.

Diabetes is so prevalent these days in children and adults because of the sugar laden diets and obesity levels. Green tea has been used to control blood sugar levels. Animal studies suggest that green tea may help prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes and slow the progression once it has developed. It may help to regulate glucose in the body.

Another healthful property of green tea besides its antioxidant effects include L-theanine, an amino acid that has calming effects on the nervous system.

Green tea can interact with medications and you should check with your physician to make sure it is safe to add to your regimen. Certain health problems such as kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, psychological disorders and heart problems can be aggravated by green tea.

Pregnant and breast-feeding women should also check with their doctor first before ingesting. Caffeine in green tea can be 30 to 60 mg in eight ounces of tea, compared to more than 100 mg of caffeine in eight ounces of coffee.

Although it's less, people sensitive to caffeine should opt for a decaffeinated variety. It still has the same benefits.

Dr. Linda Johnson is a naturopathic doctor based in Alamogordo. Contact her at 434-6400 or via email at


Tapping Pain Relief World Summit

Obesity, Blood Pressure, Smoking May Shrink Your Brain