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The Anti-ageing Properties of Green Tea (Part 1)

Antioxidant is a term that’s frequently tossed around when the subject of natural and healthy types of food is brought up. It is said to be a class of compounds that provide protection against various types of illnesses. Why do oxidation processes that naturally occur in the body need to be controlled? Isn’t oxygen the one element necessary to be alive?

The following article will try to look into the nature of antioxidant compounds and why they’re important to human health. In particular it will explore how green tea is exceptionally beneficial in this regard.

Among the various types of tea, green tea is found to be the most abundant in antioxidants. It is this characteristic that makes the leaf and the beverage made from it appropriately suited to stem the tides of aging.

Free radicals and aging

Oxygen is indispensible. It is used by most organisms to metabolize the nutrients in food and turn it into energy. What isn’t often mentioned however is that oxygen is also a two-edged sword. The various physiological processes that utilize oxygen simultaneously produce by-products called free radicals. These compounds are highly-reactive because of the oxygen they contain. This is what makes them potentially damaging to cells.

There is what is known as the free radical theory of aging [1]. It basically explains that the gradual and accumulative wear and tear that comes with aging is due to the existence of free radicals in the body. This is inevitable and one shouldn’t misunderstand that all free radicals are detrimental. Some of them serve important functions such as carrying chemical signals between cells.

The body fortunately maintains a system of checks and balances. It produces antioxidant substances to counteract free radicals and thus makes sure aging is a slow process. Vitamins C and E are just some of the common nutrients that act in this manner. They either inhibit the formation of free radicals or bind with them to render such substances inert.

Diseases and disorders are the usual result when the balance is upset, when there are more free radicals than antioxidants. This is a condition generally described as oxidative stress [2]. More often than not, it is lifestyle factors such as bad eating habits and poor choice of food that contribute to this imbalance.

Antioxidants in green tea

One of the preventive approaches to oxidative stress and slowing the inexorable progress of physical ageing is to consume food that’s abundant in antioxidants. This is where green tea comes in to affect positive changes to your health.

Several studies have been made that measure the amount and effectiveness of green tea’s antioxidant property. There was one research for example that compared the capacity of 22 vegetables along with black and green tea [3]. When it came to peroxyl types of free radicals, it was found that black and green tea were more effective than all the other vegetables tested. Another study that involved smokers and non-smokers looked into how drinking green tea was able to reduced oxidative stress in both groups of participants [4].

The one class of antioxidant substance that has been identified as providing the cell damage reducing benefit is called catechins. This can be found in other antioxidant-rich food like red wine and certain types of berries. Among the different types of tea however, green tea contains the most catechins [5] which explains why it is always considered the healthiest.

In the upcoming Part 2 of this series on the anti-ageing properties of green tea, specific benefits such as how green tea can reduce ultraviolet radiation damage to the skin and how it helps protect DNA will be discussed.

In the meantime you can visit this page to get more information on the therapeutic benefits of green tea. You can also look here to see a list of antioxidants that green tea contains and figure out why it might be even better to actually eat green tea.

Notes:

  1. Aging: A Theory Based on Free Radical and Radiation Chemistry
  2. Chapter 15 Oxidative Stress and the Aging Brain: From Theory to Prevention
  3. Antioxidant Capacity of Tea and Common Vegetables
  4. The Effect of Tea Consumption on Oxidative Stress in Smokers and Nonsmokers
  5. Beneficial Effects of Green Tea—A Review
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