Green Tea: Nature’s Antimicrobial Super Star
Put down that bottle of hand sanitizer and pick up a handful of green tea leaves. A 2009 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea was effective at reducing risk of pneumonia –one of the leading killers of children and elderly around the world.1
In this study, Japanese researchers recorded diet, lifestyle, and causes of death for about 20,000 men and 20,000 women over a 12-year period. After controlling for factors that may have interfered with results such as age and body weight, researchers found that green tea was protective against pneumonia death in women, but not men. In fact, a single serving of green tea per day cut the risk of contracting pneumonia by 41%.
Green Tea Fights Germs
This study highlights one of the least recognized benefits of green tea: it’s ability to battle bacteria. However, it’s not accurate to classify green tea as simply “antibacterial” -green tea has been shown to ward off bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It’s this triple-action protection that shields the body from pneumonia –a condition that has bacterial, fungal, and viral causes.
Here’s how green tea protects your body from invaders:
Weakens Viruses: Green tea has been shown to limit the activity of nasty viruses like colds and the flu. According to a study done by the Japanese National Institute of Health, green tea can make viruses weak and unable to hijack healthy cells.2
Stop Bacteria: Green tea inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. Coli and even H. Pylori –the bacteria implicated as the cause of most stomach ulcers. 3
Boosts Immunity: The most active and beneficial compound in green tea, catechins, has been shown to stimulate the immune system. Because catechins significantly reduce inflammation and oxidation, scientists think that green tea increases the effectiveness and activity of the immune system.
Interestingly, a 2004 study published in the journal Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that the catechins themselves back-up your immune system by providing it with extra hydrogen peroxide –the most powerful ammunition in your immune cell’s arsenal.4
Eat Green Tea To Bullet Proof Your Body
While drinking green tea is certainly beneficial to health, many health experts feel that to get the most out of green tea, you should eat the leaves themselves. That’s because only a small amount of the extremely high levels of health-promoting compounds in green tea, like EGCG, are extracted into hot water.5 Also, certain parts of the tea leaf, like fiber, are wasted when used tea bags are thrown into the garbage.
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1. Ikue Watanabe. Green tea and death from pneumonia in Japan: the Ohsaki cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr 90: 672-679, 2009
2. Mukoyama A, Ushijima H, Nishimura S, Koike H, Toda M, Hara Y, Shimamura T: Inhibition of rotavirus and enterovirus infections by tea extracts. Jpn J Med Sci Biol44 :181 –186,1991
3. Yee YK, Koo MWL, Szeto ML: Chinese tea consumption and lower risk of Helicobacter infection. J Gastroenterol Hepatol17 :552 –555,2002
4. Arakawa et al. Role of Hydrogen Peroxide in Bactericidal Action of Catechin Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 27 :3.277-281, 2004
5. Zhou R, Zhou Y, Chen D, Li S, Haug A. Effects of soaking temperature and soaking time during preparation of water extract of tea on anticlastogenicity against environmental tobacco smoke in the sister chromatid exchange assay. Toxicology Letters. 2000:115: 23-32.
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