Green tea is no ordinary beverage. The various plant chemicals, especially the polyphenols, in green tea don't exert beneficial effects in just one metabolic process in the human body. At least 15 green tea chemicals influence at least 143 metabolic processes that determine human health. Green tea has so many health benefits it is actually more than a little difficult to keep up with them.
For instance, three green tea chemicals, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), kaempferol, and quercetin, reduce the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma by modifying epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor (IGF), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and NF-?B pathways. Japanese scientists have confirmed that people who drink green tea daily have lower insulin resistance, so they gain less weight, so they have lower rates of type 2 diabetes. Green tea even helps protect muscles. Scientists know it contains chemicals that stop two different pathways inside each muscle cell that "turn on" a gene called p53 that "turns on" the aging process in muscle.
- Drinking green tea lowers your risk of developing certain serious diseases, such as cancer (especially breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men), diabetes, and heart disease, but it does not treat those diseases once they occur.
- Green tea is useful in treating warts caused by the human papillomavirus and in most kinds of skin cancer, but it needs to be applied to the skin in the form of a green tea cream. Green tea skin products have to be protected from oxidation (they should come in a tube, and you need to keep the tube tightly closed when you are not using it) or they will use their antioxidant power on the oxygen in the air rather than on your skin.
- Green tea supplements really do, but only slightly, increase weight loss when you are dieting, about 2 pound (1 kilo) every 3 months. However, the green tea extract doesn't work without caffeine, and it won't work if you consume too much caffeine. More than three cups of coffee a day cancels out the benefits of green tea extract.
- Herbal teas do not offer the health benefits of green tea. However, black (orange Pekoe) tea and oolong tea do, just in slightly lower amounts.
- Freshly brewed green tea has the most antioxidants. Instant or bottled green tea (like the tea you find in Japan and Korea) contain fewer antioxidants.
- The longer tea is exposed to air, the lower its antioxidant content. Drink tea as soon as you brew it.
- Brewing tea for less than three minutes doesn't allow the maximum amounts of antioxidants to enter the tea. Brewing tea for more than five minutes causes antioxidants to begin to break down.
- Iced tea does not contain as much antioxidant power as hot tea, unless it is "strong," made with about 50 percent more tea.
- Breastfeeding mothers may need to monitor their consumption of green tea, because the caffeine in the tea may be passed on to the baby in breast milk and cause the baby to stay up at night.
- "English breakfast" teas are made from a mixture of black teas from different locations, but do not contain green tea.
However, the benefits of drinking green tea are in prevention, rather than in treatment. Start drinking green tea now, but if you have developed a chronic health condition, avail yourself of every medical and natural treatment available to you.
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