Thursday, March 10, 2011

Green Tea, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome

Green tea is one of those beverages that just seems perfect for health. Hardly anything has been written bad about it, and more benefits are being discovered and confirmed every day. In particular, a compound in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (more easily remembered as EGCG) seems to be the main reason for green tea's benefits. A quick perusal through journal article abstracts on EGCG gives nearly 2200 articles - and that's just as of today. (A search for green tea gives over 4000 article references!)

Considering also that diabetes and its precursor, metabolic syndrome, are at epidemic levels in our country today, it is worth looking at EGCG and green tea to see if it has benefits for these people. The results are quite impressive. Just a few articles:
  • In September of 2008, the Journal of Medicinal Food released a study concerning EGCG. This study determined that EGCG significantly increased uptake of glucose by muscle cells - over 70% more than the control used in the study. This is great news for diabetics searching for additional ways to help increase control over their blood sugar. It's also great news for athletes who want to ensure their muscles are getting all the fuel they need. (The dose used was not given, unfortunately.)
  • A study from February of 2010 showed that when subjects with metabolic syndrome either drank 4 cups of green tea a day or took 2 grams of a green tea extract over 8 weeks, they decreased their weight significantly. The average weight loss was 5.5 pounds with the tea, and just over 4 pounds with the extract. Further, the subjects who drank green tea decreased their LDL levels (the form of cholesterol that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease).
  • Another study from September of 2008 demonstrated that when mice were simultaneously fed a high fat diet as well as EGCG gained less weight and had less insulin resistance, lower total blood cholesterol, and liver triglycerides than mice only fed a high fat diet.
The take-home message here: if you are diabetic or have metabolic syndrome, drinking green tea on a regular basis is in your best interest. Four cups a day is excellent, but sometimes not to everyone's taste. In a case like this, a more concentrated extract (called a solid extract) that retains all the properties of the original tea can be more easily consumed; only 1/2 teaspoon of this molasses-like sweet extract is equal to four cups a day.

If you are interested in controlling or preventing diabetes or cardiovascular disease with a comprehensive protocol that may include green tea solid extract - especially if drinking 4 cups of green tea a day seems a bit much - contact your nearest naturopathic doctor. And if I happen to be that nearest naturopathic doctor, of course I'd be happy to see you! Check out either of these two websites - you can schedule an appointment from there, or simply call 303-797-6656. And be well!

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