Green tea and health
There has been quite some publicity recently in the media regarding the potential harmful effects of green tea supplements, such as this: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/health-warning-issued-about-risks-of-green-tea-supplements-1.3346467
Green tea health benefits can be seen as an extension of Chinese herbal medicine. The research of western science into its health benefits started a few decades ago – when it was realised that the infectious diseases as the main killer of our population were largely under control, but lifestyle related conditions such as obesity, cancers, cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes started affecting not only people’s life quantity but also quality. The surgery knifes and tablets were not all effective in providing much needed answers.
Researches and the interpretation of the results
The research findings, initially based on the lifestyles and health outcomes of people living in certain countries such as China and Japan, were as expected and exciting: green tea consumption is effective in preventing most of these lifestyle related conditions including obesity.
When opportunities presented as such, many merchants jumped on the wagon with the awareness of:
- People are desperate to improve their lifestyle related conditions, especially obesity in our society.
- Categorised as a beverage but not pharmaceutical, the regulation on green tea supplements are not anywhere as strict. Without backing up by evidence based science (be careful to distinguish between green tea and green tea supplements here!), many supplements of high concentration of catechins have appeared on the market, based on the assumption that ‘if it is good, the more the better’.
Chinese herbal medicine and its reflection on green tea's health benefits
To understand the differences between these supplements and the health benefits of green tea in its natural state, we have to understand a bit about traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is an experimental science. It is a result of thousands of years of Chinese herbalists tasting, testing and experimenting with thousands of herbs, their combinations and effects on various stages of heath conditions. Anyone with experience with a Chinese herbalist (a professionally trained one), would know that the herbalist would assess the state of the health condition regularly and prescribe classically a group of herbs (5-10) at a time. They also adjust the weight of each herb, and the combination for each prescription. The theory is that the bio-medically active ingredients from these herbs work as big compounds within certain environment to produce their desired effects.
An example of this is that there has been a recent research project conducted by one of the leading universities in China attempting to isolate the ‘active compounds’ of Pu-erh tea. The started from the whole leaves and gradually break down to smaller and smaller components. What they discovered was that the studied health benefits were demolishing with these ‘breaking up’ until they disappeared completely.
What do we know about green teas’ health benefits so far, especially regarding weight management:
- Green tea contains high levels of anti-oxidants with many health benefits towards various modern lifestyle related health conditions.
- Most of the research results point to green tea catechins in combination with caffeine are effective in weight control through regulating body metabolism rate and fat oxidisation.
- The above effect is reduced among habitual caffeine consumers.
- Green tea is also beneficial during the weight maintaining stage after weight loss through counteracting the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs during weight loss.
- The effect is moderate and should be combined with active lifestyle and healthy diet to achieve a sustainable and optimal result.
- It is difficult to drink too much green tea. It is however certainly possible to overdose with green tea supplements.
For more research reports on green tea’s health benefits, please visit: Research findings about tea and weight control
Green tea is a gift from the mother nature. It is a luscious beverage to be enjoyed first and the health benefits are by-products. We are all aware that swallowing pills and going under the surgery knifes are not the solution to our ‘lifestyle related health conditions’, but living a healthy lifestyle will, including enjoying your daily cup of premium tea.