In recent years information and articles on the incredible benefits of natural plants seem to be almost a daily occurrence. Tea’s made from plants particularly piqued my interest. Green Tea has long been touted as a miracle drink and is something that I drink almost daily so I'm often asked why I drink it? Many people tell me that they don't like Green Tea but I often explain that it's not about liking it, it's about liking yourself. The immense benefits outweigh any unpleasantness that a little honey or sugar can fix, it's also worth noting that if your Green Tea sits for too long I find it goes bitter, so drink it fresh. Also choose a good quality organic tea, never underestimate how important your choice of tea is, I've had some awful tasting conventional Brand Green Teas in my time.
Sadly much of the clinical research I found and referenced use animals in what was otherwise very positive research outcomes. The upside, research on this beneficial tea and its compounds isn't quite so awful for our furry friends and what is good enough for them is good enough for me. So I've endeavoured to down a pot of green tea each day and see if I felt any different.
My terribly scientific study resulted in me managing to boost my energy levels enough to now walk 8 km a day with a step average of about 18,000 steps a day. I've lost 2 kg and 2 inches off my waist, 1 inch off my bust (not so happy about that) and another inch off my hips. Even more interesting was that I managed to escape the dreaded flu despite my household being struck down with the most ghastly illness…whilst I on the other hand was skipping and whistling in great spirits, feeling energetic and ready to conquered the world. Surely that's got to count for something in clinical research terms. Ok maybe not, but certainly the information I gathered below goes a long way to supporting the notion that anyone wanting to improve their health, fitness, weight, disease prevention and longevity certainly need to take the time to explore potential life altering Herbal Tea options. I know I’ll be keeping Green Tea as part of my lifestyle choices.
So what's all the fuss about Green Tea
Green Tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants, but did you know these substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals are known to play a role in ageing and growth of diseases, so it only makes sense to include green tea in your daily diet.
Further investigation uncovered it fights health problems, ageing and disease including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, even the common flu and oral hygiene issues, Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, abdominal fat and it has been proven to assist longevity.
Research has found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women. One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men. A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
If that's not enough the benefits of the bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons and may reduce the risk of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Studies show that the water-soluble polyphenols (frequently referred to as catechins) in Green Tea can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections. This anti bacterial property also help prevent plaque formation on the teeth which is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay. Further studies have shown Green Tea is effective at reducing bad breath.
Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
Improves brain function and may reduce anxiety
Green Tea contains Caffeine (so don't do what I've done on occasion and had one near bedtime). Caffeine has been intensively studied and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory. However... green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and great news for many is that it has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain and can actually improve brain function. So if you've got a big report to write, or stress at home and work, maybe choose a Green Tea rather than a coffee to help get you through.
Helps you Burn Fat
Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials. According The the American Journal of Psychology (Addressing the increase in the global prevalence of obesity) ‘Tools for obesity management include caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea have been proposed as strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance, since they may increase energy expenditure and have been proposed to counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that is present during weight loss.
In fact according to a study published in the NCBI, National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Information, in 2008 called ‘Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans’ the study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.
Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area. One of these studies was a randomised controlled trial in 240 men and women. It demonstrated that green tea had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat.
Protects against heart disease
Green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Observational studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Obviously with the amount of health benefits already listed above naturally green tea drinkers increased longevity is a given, however additionally a study of 40,530 Japanese adults (who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period. In fact 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men and death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men and death from stroke: 42% lower in women. Another study of 14,001 elderly Japanese men and women aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.
It’s important to note that higher quality teas may have better quality leaves and greater benefit. Plus research indicates adding milk to tea reduces the benefits.
For people with anaemia, especially during chemotherapy, it’s important to know that green tea may lower the absorption of iron. This can be avoided by drinking green tea at a time separate from meals, and waiting at least one hour after meals to drink your tea
Helps kill Cancer Stem Cells
According to papers by Dr. Ajay Goe a Professor and Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Research and Director of the Center for Translational Genomics and Oncology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Chemo resistance is the Achilles’ heel of cancer treatment, mostly because of cancer stem cells. While chemotherapies kill tumour cells, they leave the cancer stem cells unharmed. With time — anywhere from six months to a few years — those stem cells can cause a relapse. By then, the tumour is usually more aggressive and harder to treat, and the stem cells become “superman” cells because of their resilience. So, since the cancer is stronger, it can come back with a vengeance and patients may not respond to chemotherapy at all. Green tea, though, helps kill these resilient cells because of unique properties in its active ingredient, EGCG.” He recommend that patients with colorectal cancer take EGCG/green tea supplements, or drink the tea as a natural protection.
Improves Postmenopausal Bone Mineral Density
According to epidemiological studies the bone mineral density (BMD) of postmenopausal women with a habit of tea drinking was higher than that of women without habitual green tea consumption.
The active ingredient in green tea, EGCG, can prevent and repair cell damage, including stem cells, green tea can stimulate the genes that activate stem cells.
The benefits of Green Tea as part of our healthy lifestyle is quite evident. Below I've listed just some of the research papers I found if you would like further information.
(Note: This article is for information purposes only, seek medical or professional advice prior to changing your lifestyle and diet).
Green tea research
In vivo antioxidant effect of green and black tea in man.
Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality.
The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks
L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans
The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.
L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.
Involvement of GABAA Receptors in the Neuroprotective Effect of Theanine on Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Mice
Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea
Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans.
Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.
Prospective cohort study of green tea consumption and colorectal cancer risk in women.
Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Simultaneous manipulation of multiple brain targets by green tea catechins: a potential neuroprotective strategy for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.
Potential Therapeutic Properties of Green Tea Polyphenols in Parkinson’s Disease
The bactericidal activity of tea and coffee
Antimicrobial effects of green tea polyphenols on thermophilic spore-forming bacteria
Anti-influenza virus activity of green tea by-products in vitro and efficacy against influenza virus infection in chickens.
Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus.
Green tea catechins, EGCG and burning fat
Anticaries Effects of Polyphenolic
Combination effects of antibacterial compounds in green tea flavor against Streptococcus mutans
Antibacterial Activity of Iranian Green and Black Tea on Streptococcus Mutans: An In Vitro Study
Green tea: a promising natural product in oral health.
Anticariogenic effects of green tea.
Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.
Effect of tea catechins for halitosis and their application to chewing gum 
Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on endothelial cell-induced LDL oxidation
Inhibitory effect of jasmine green tea epicatechin isomers on LDL-oxidation
Influence of green tea and its three major components upon low-density lipoprotein oxidation
The Relation between Green Tea Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease as Evidenced by Epidemiological Studies
Dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease mortality in Japan: a prospective cohort study
Does Tea Affect Cardiovascular Disease? A Meta-Analysis
A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans
Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition.
Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial
Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study.
Green Tea Consumption and Mortality among Japanese Elderly People: The Prospective Shizuoka Elderly Cohort
How Green Tea kills cancer stem cells
Green Tea helps fight lung cancer
Green tea catechin enhances osteogenesis in a bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell line