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Green Tea: The Fountain of Youth

April 19, 2013

Green TeaThe pioneering work of Denham Harman, MD, PhD, paved the way for the concept that aging is not a mysterious event that occurs at random. But, rather, aging is a consequence of the damage caused by an excess of “free radicals.” These free radicals are highly reactive, unstable molecules that can cause damage to other cells and cellular components. Free radicals themselves are referred to as a “dangerous friend” due to their dual—positive and negative—actions in the body. The positive aspect is that free radicals are integral in producing cellular energy from food and are involved in fighting infection, and play an important role in metabolic functions. Their negative aspect is that an excess of free radicals creates “oxidative stress,” which can damage every part of the cell, including the nucleus, DNA, and cell membrane. Free radicals are one of the primary causes of aging and age-related diseases.

The body’s ability to protect against “oxidative stress” is determined by the level of free radicals produced, the level of dietary consumption of antioxidants, the individual’s age, and genetic factors. Antioxidants are a group of compounds that are produced by the body and that occur naturally in many foods. Antioxidants work together in the body to defend against free radicals by “quenching” or disarming these compounds before they can exert their damaging effects on cells and cellular components. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that demonstrates that individuals who eat a diet rich in antioxidants have an increased potential to live longer, healthier lives. By controlling the harmful effects of free radicals, we can influence how fast and how well we age.

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) polyphenols are potent antioxidant compounds that counter the effects of reactive oxygen molecules that produce free radicals, which contribute to aging and age-related degenerative disease states. The green tea polyphenol catechin, in particular epigallocatechin gallate, is one of the most potent antioxidants known. Catechins make up as much as 30% of the dry weight of green tea buds and leaves, and have clearly demonstrated greater antioxidant protection than Vitamins C and E. In addition to its direct antioxidant activity, green tea has been found to increase the activity of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes. The other primary clinical applications of green tea include its ability to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease.

While scientists throughout the world continue to confirm health- and longevity-promoting effects of green tea, we should not overlook the benefits that are associated with the ritual practice of brewing and drinking tea, either alone or with guests. The art of preparing tea can provide one of life’s simplest and rewarding pleasures, anyone can master the art of brewing tea with attention to the following elements:

  • Water, select high-quality water such as spring water or filtered water
  • Measuring the tea, use 2 g of tea leaves (a teaspoonful) to 6 oz serving
  • Temperature, thewater should be brought to just a full boil
  • Teapot, cast iron or ceramic impart the best tasting tea
  • Steeping, most green tea requires a brief infusion of approximately 3 minutes
  • Drink the tea, within 15 to 20 minutes after infusing
  • Amount to drink, at least 3 cups daily to provide 300 mg of polyphenols
  • Selecting good tea sources, The Republic of Tea, Celestial Seasonings, Alvita, Traditional Medicinals, The Yogi Tea Company, Tazo Tea

Source: Ross SM. Green tea chings, on health, longevity, and a cup of humanity. Holist Nurs Pract 2007;21(5):280–282