I posted on Facebook the other day about my hopeless addiction to green tea. Yes, it really is an addiction for me! I was really having a long day and was posting more because I had lost count of how many cups I had had that day. I was not posting a “yay me” statement, that was for sure but rather a, whoa maybe a few cups too many, kind of statement. Then to my surprise, several people commented in return about how they, too, love green tea. Then that got me thinking, let’s talk about green tea further. Rather, I would like you to be addicted to drinking green tea as well.
The history of the human love affair of green tea goes back thousands of years. And let me tell you, it really has been a love affair. Green tea in some regions of the world is at the mythic status level. There are ceremonies about it, books written about it, relationships bonded with it, and generations drinking it. I was raised on tea. My cultural heritage loves it therefore in my home we drank it all the time. But outside of my home wandering around the US, tea was not that common everyday habit. Is it because of that tea party in Boston all those years ago? I have often wondered that, but in any case with the burgeoning of coffee houses on every street corner Americans are falling in love with tea.
There are many reasons to love green tea; it has properties of being an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and help to clear the fat out of your liver. But the one reason I am going to focus on is its ability to block starch absorption. Ever wonder why we in the West who are obsessed with high protein/low carb diets and in the East they consume the opposite?
Obviously I am not advocating eating refined carbohydrates and processed foods in your diet. But it has become traditional in the American culture to eat refined white rice or foods made from white/wheat flour? Or rather we are addicted to muffins, bread, donuts, cupcakes, breakfast cereal, or processed convenience foods. Whatever the case, cultural habits, or personal addiction, you may find yourself eating more refined, processed carbs than you should.
Most of the world is aware that many people in some Asian cultures consume large quantities of white rice. Yes, white rice has a glycemic index that is nearly identical to white table sugar. Therefore you would think their blood sugar would be sky-high and that they would have more diabetes and other related diseases than you see in other cultures (like in the US). But they don’t and we do. The reason may be that they also consume more green tea than anyone else on the planet.
Through the experience that has been passed down for generations, in Asia, they have figured out that drinking green tea is very good for your body. Of course, scientists did not accept that empirical evidence as enough and had to go off and research exactly why.
According to one study from Penn State University on mice, green tea acts as a starch blocker. Specifically, it is the EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) that is in green tea. In this study, they compared two groups of mice. One group of mice was fed corn starch. The other group was fed the equivalent of 1.5 cups of green tea along with the corn starch. They then tested the blood sugar of both groups. The group with the corn starch mice was higher by about 70 points than the group that got corn starch and green tea.
What does that mean? EGCG has been shown to inhibit gluconeogenesis (GNG) in the intestine. GNG is a metabolic pathway, therefore drinking green tea with meals and throughout the day may acutely affect starch digestibility. Et Voilà, green tea is a starch blocker.
I recommend you either consume green (or black) tea with any meal especially those containing refined carbs. Or just simply drink tea often, every day if you can. Drink up, brew it in a cup, and hopefully, you see less of the doctor with some luck! (did that rhyme…I wasn’t trying to do that!)
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