On Your Health

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10 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

Today we have a post from our guest blogger, Juli Johnson, APRN.  Juli works at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute, where she is an Integrative Medicine practitioner. Juli is an advanced practice nurse who has been with INTEGRIS since 2000. In 2014, she graduated from the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine program at the University Of Arizona College of Medicine, where she studied under the Integrative Medicine pioneer Andrew Weil, M.D. 

Hi everyone. It's Juli here. Today's post is going to be short and sweet: Drink Green Tea! I'm a huge fan. I drink it regularly, and I think you should, too!

Many cultures throughout Asia have harnessed the healing powers of green tea for thousands of years, but the Western world has gone crazy for green tea only in the last few decades. Lately it seems you can't pick up a newspaper or visit a health website that doesn't proclaim the health benefits of green tea, from weight loss to preventing colds to fighting cancer. But should you believe the hype?

Yes! The body is a wonderful machine with an innate ability to heal itself. Green tea helps your body do just that. It's brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which is loaded with powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidants that help combat free radicals — substances that can alter and even kill cells in your body, causing premature aging, cancer, and other diseases — by neutralizing them. I like to think of green tea as medicine in a mug.

In fact, here are 10 reasons you should drink green tea, courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a world-renowned pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine. He writes on his website that green tea:

  1. contains antioxidants which can powerfully quench damaging "free radicals," metabolic byproducts that are chemically reactive and can damage cells. According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the antioxidants found in green tea provide six times the radical-quenching potential of those found in black tea.
  2. supports cardiovascular and metabolic health. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found subjects consuming five or more cups of green tea per day were less likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, or die of cardiovascular disease or stroke. Researchers also found in animal studies that the antioxidants found in green tea improved heart health by preventing thickening of the heart muscles.
  3. helps to prevent fatty buildup in arteries. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the antioxidants from green tea may reduce cholesterol levels, ultimately assisting in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  4. can increase energy and mental focus. Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, which a 2008 study in Nutrition Bulletin found can improve mood, cognitive function and physical performance. Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, and provides L-theanine, an amino acid shown to promote a state of calm awareness. Result: green tea provides the benefits of alertness associated with caffeine without the "jittery" feeling often experienced as a side effect of coffee.
  5. quickly calms and relaxes. L-theanine exhibits anti-anxiety effects by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and also appears to decrease blood pressure. A study published in Trends in Food Science & Technology found green tea produces relaxing effects without drowsiness only 40 minutes after ingestion.
  6. facilitates the burning of body fat. Green tea promotes the body's ability to burn fat through thermogenesis and fat oxidation. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the combination of antioxidants and caffeine from green tea resulted in a "significant increase" of energy expenditure compared to placebo.
  7. may help prevent skin damage and cancer. An animal study published in Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis found green tea appears to protect against skin papillomas and tumors induced by UVA and UVB light.
  8. may improve bone health. A study published in Nutrition Research found the bio-active components of green tea may help decrease the risk of fracture by improving bone mineral density.
  9. may lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Studies have examined green tea's potential role in lowering risks of breast, ovarian, bladder, esophageal and prostate cancers. More studies are needed, but research so far is promising.
  10. improves insulin sensitivity and may help protect against diabetes, as well as rapid rises and subsequent crashes in blood sugar levels that lead to fatigue, irritability and food cravings. A study in Annals of Internal Medicine found consumption of green tea (as well as black tea and coffee), was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

The bottom line? Green tea is a delicious, healthy drink that should be part of your daily diet. So drink up!