Drink green tea for better overall health

If there is a beverage that offers more health benefits than pure, filtered water (ideally with one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt mixed in), I haven’t found it. But running a close second to water is green tea.

Green tea comes from the same plant as the regular tea you find but it is processed differently. Rather than undergoing a process of fermentation – which raises the levels of caffeine and tannin in the tea – green tea leaves are dried or steamed without being fermented.

I could write all day about green tea’s benefits and still miss some. But here are a few that should convince you that a cup (or three or four cups) of green tea should be part of your daily routine.

Substitute green tea for coffee. Research shows that drinking just two cups of coffee can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. An elevation of this hormone can have adverse effects on the immune system, brain cells, sugar metabolism and weight gain. Coffee raises levels of insulin, accelerating aging and stored body fat, while green tea contains catechin polyphenols, antioxidants that boost metabolism and slow aging. Green tea can block the absorption of bad fats by 30 percent, while the amino acid l-theanine found in tea promotes a sense of calm and improves one’s mood.

It reduces glucose by inhibiting the secretion of an enzyme that slows down the absorption of glucose in the in the bloodstream which, in turn, helps in the control of type 2 diabetes. It also helps in weight loss — which again can help in the control of type 2 diabetes – by increasing the body’s metabolism. This promotes faster consumption of stored body fat.

Green tea improves the pancreas’ functions, allowing it to be more efficient in the regulating insulin levels and better absorb and neutralize sugar.

Green tea provides you with vitamins, minerals and amino acids; promotes the growth of good probiotic bacteria; protects the gastrointestinal tract against cancer-causing agents; and may help prevent ulcers.

Among the cancers green tea fights are those of the breast, bladder, ovaries, bowel, colon, esophagus, lungs, prostate, skin and stomach. Researchers have found that the polyphenols kill these cancerous cells and stop them from growing.

Green tea has antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are missing an electron. As they float through the body, these free radicals grab electrons from healthy cells, which researchers believe adversely affect the healthy cells and cause them to become cancerous. Green tea’s antioxidants effectively donate extra electrons to the free radicals, sparing the healthy cells.

Green tea can be consumed hot or cold, but I prefer it hot. Warm beverages taken with meals help improve digestion. Cold beverages with a meal cause the body to work harder to warm the liquids, making them take longer to digest and assimilate.

The Archives of Internal Medicine show that if you drink three to four cups of green tea per day, you could reduce the risk of diabetes by 25 percent. And the green tea can reduce the risk of depression by 44 percent if you drink four or more cups daily.

More than 40 years ago I was very unhealthy and experiencing high blood pressure and heart disease. When I was between age 38 and 40, I experienced four heart attacks. It was then I had an epiphany and realized that the sack of prescription drugs my doctors gave me were worse than heart disease. I was sure I did not have a drug deficiency, so began to look for a better way to control my blood pressure.

I tried cinnamon bark in green tea loaded with fresh mint leaves. It brought my blood pressure down in just a few weeks. This combination also helps reduce insulin resistance – another precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Green tea can boost stamina and endurance and its antioxidants help with muscle recovery after exercise.

Finally, green tea is good for overall oral health. It controls bacteria, lowers the acidity of saliva and it has been found to outperform mints, chewing gum and parsley-seed oil for helping keep breath fresh, according to a study by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Dentistry.

It also improved gum health, according to a German study; and research in Japan published in 2010 found that men and women who drink one or more cups of green tea daily were more likely keep their teeth.

Everyone should make green tea a part of their diet. And if the caffeine in green tea concerns you, decaffeinated brands are available that provide most of the same benefits.

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