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Sunday, December 17, 2006

 

Supplements: Green tea for health and fitness


Green tea is getting a ton of attention these days as medical research is finally catching up to naturopathic/alternative medicine. Due to the frequent lack of convincing research in alternative medicine, many potentially health-promoting or disease-fighting nutritional supplements are dismissed as viable options for treatment or prevention in mainstream clinical practice. This unfortunate, as many currently available therapies (i.e.drugs) are synthetic small-molecule compounds which are often associated with a number of adverse or potentially lethal effects. In an effort to treat or cure a disease we are affecting a number of other important biochemical processes to our detriment. It would seem that naturally derived products have the greatest potential in the prevention of disease, to use “food as a drug” as nature has most likely intended. Times are changing however, as modern science is proving more and more that treatments previously passed off as “snake oil” are actually powerful health promoting and disease-preventing agents.

Consumed for thousands of years as part of traditional Chinese medicine, green tea was to consider a health-promoting beverage. Traditional Chinese medicine has recommended green tea for headaches, aches and pains, depression, as an energy-promoting agent, detoxification, and in general to promote a long, healthful life. Once again, current medical research is beginning to catch up with ancient medical practice, as green tea is proving to be beneficial to health and fitness in a number of unexpected ways. It seems that the ancient Chinese medicine assertion that green tea “promotes health” is not far off from what researchers are beginning to uncover. Recent human research studies have suggested green tea may have the following beneficial effects:

  • Reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease

  • Reduction in the risk for certain types of cancer

  • Promotion of oral health

  • Bodyweight control and improvements in body composition

  • Antibacterial and antiviral activity

  • Protection from harmful UV rays

  • Associated with increases in bone mineral density

  • protection form neruodegenerative diseases



The chemical composition of green tea is extremely complex, the potentially health-promoting compounds including the amino acids teanine, 5-Nethylglutamine, glutamic acid, tryptophan, glycine, serine, aspartic acid, tyrosine, valine, leucine, threonine, arginine, lysine, polyphenols, carbohydrates such as fructose, glucose, and fructose, lipids including EFAs, various plant sterols (hormone-like compounds present in plants), caffeine and theophylline, pigments such as chlorophyll and carotenoids, and trace-minerals such as calcium, magnesium, chromium, manganese , iron, copper, zinc, selenium, among others. It is likely that with the health-promoting and disease-preventing effects of green tea, as with many other natural products, the sum is greater than the whole. All the constituents of green tea likely act in a synergistic manner, at the right time and at the right place (biochemically speaking), just as nature intended. Read on to find out what we know about green tea and how it can benefit your health.
Next: Green tea II: cardiovascular disease and cancer