Nutritional Medicine , Separating Fact from Fiction
(Hint: Green Tea may stain your teeth. Consider drinking out of an alternative vessel, one with a straw or anything that will help avoid contact with the teeth if you want to maintain that sparkling whiteness!)
Green tea is made from the dried leaves of a perennial evergreen shrub. It has a long history of use dating back to China approximately 5,000 years ago as it was used to treat many ailments in that era, obesity was not a big one on the list. The tea has historically been used to induce alertness and was introduced to Western cultures in the 6th century by Turkish traders. There is an art to brewing green tea and if steeped too long can have a very bitter taste. If eaten with a meal, it can decrease its effectiveness in aiding weight loss and if combined with milk or other substances, they may interact with the active ingredients, mostly catechins.
Green tea’s effects on weight loss can be attributed to the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound that interacts with the Fatty Synthase Enzyme, an enzyme responsible for the production of fat. Furthermore, ECGC inhibits fat producing enzymes and suppresses key regulators that promote fat deposition. In addition, Green tea has been implicated in reducing the activities of gastric and pancreatic lipase , suggesting that these factors, also, may play a role in the fat blocking cascade.
The synergistic combination with caffeine, quercetin, vitamin C and fish oil makes a significant difference in the success of using green tea to promote weight-loss. Other synergistic factors include curcurmin, coenzyme Q10 and inositol. Antagonistic factors have been found to include iron, dietary carbohydrate and salicylic acid (aspirin). Recently, it was discovered that green tea inhibited the appetite hormone ghrelin and increased adiponectin levels, both known to influence weight.
The true effectiveness of Green Tea is dependent on at least these two factors: achieving a large enough dose of EGCG (400- 500 mg/day) and combining it synergistically with the following nutrients - caffeine, quercetin, and fish oil. Green Tea by itself has a minor, but appreciable, effect on thermogenesis and fat loss. Similar effects have not been noted in oolong tea. This further supports the case for using green tea to break weight loss plateaus, and why it is recommended so frequently as a kick-starter for those that need it as they embark on a weight loss endeavor with an already low metabolic rate.
Results noted for the green tea in various weight loss studies have included:
Minor effects on thermogenesis that may be increased by adding synergistic factors to diet
Dosage used in most studies reviewed was approximately 4-6 cups of tea per day. Earlier, 400-500 mg/day was mentioned as being used in some studies. Conflicting results can be attributed to whether the study used green tea alone or in combination with synergistic factors.
Study outcomes may vary on whether the tea was consumed with a meal, prior to exercise, clear with no milk or honey and amount of caffeine, antagonistic/synergistic factors.
Positive studies on green tea’s effectiveness as a lifestyle enhancer and weight-loss aide still publish on an on-going basis. Another confounding variable is meal composition.
It is important to note that drinking green tea with meals diminishes the thermogenic effect of the tea. I cannot emphasize this enough. This is a change from earlier recommendations. There is more fat burned when no carbohydrate is present when sipping your tea. In fact, the best time to sip your tea is during or before exercise. Green Tea may help you burn up to 17% more calories during exercise (needs replication studies). Adding milk, sugar, honey or anything else to the tea may alter its medicinal effects.
There are some notes on liver toxicity that certainly deserve attention before misinterpreted panic sets in. First of all, the studies that did show propensity to damage to the liver was in subjects give doses in the hundreds and thousands of times the levels given to humans. Second, many of these studies were done in beagle dogs. So, if directions are followed by a knowledgeable clinician who keeps up on the literature (not your Health Food Store salesperson), you will be much safer.
The take home message here is that, as part of an entire weight-loss plan, green tea- when taken with other nutrients synergistically- may have a significant impact on fat loss and increasing metabolism.
Emerson Ecologics- Professional Version
Natural Standards Natural Database - Professional Version
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