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The Anti-ageing Properties of Green Tea (Part 2)

In Part 1, the relation between ageing and free radicals was discussed along with how the antioxidants in green tea actually serve as the anti-ageing properties of this healthy beverage. Now, more specific ways of how the beneficial substances in green tea slow down the natural wear and tear that comes with ageing will be tackled.

It is the skin that logically gets most damaged by environmental factors. It is after all the outer and first protective layer that defends the more fragile internal organs. One doesn’t even need to do anything particularly dangerous. By simply standing in the sunlight, skin tissues are already bombarded and worn down by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Accumulative deterioration also happens at the molecular level. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is one of the various macromolecules that can get affected by the activity of free radicals. Life span and the body’s ability to protect and repair its DNA has been linked [1]. This essentially means that preventive measures against damage to DNA can positively influence how long you can stay relatively young and healthy.

On both external and internal fronts, the anti-ageing properties of green tea can provide a solution.

Protection from Ultraviolet Radiation

Photoageing is the term used to describe how the skin’s appearance and proper functioning changes due to constant exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation [2]. It is usually at the areas often exposed to the sun – the face, neck, ears and hands, where signs of damage manifest. These would typically be wrinkles or freckles. More dangerous levels of exposure would result in sunburn and, given enough UV, skin cancers like melanoma.

The body has its own defense against photoageing. Melanin, which gives skin its pigment color, is one of the main protective mechanisms. Since UV can also cause oxidative stress, antioxidant substances play a significant role as well.

One study was able to show how the most abundant type of antioxidants called catechins in green tea were actually able to lessen the damaging effects of UV on the skin [3]. There are various subtypes of green tea catechins, and it is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG) that proved to be most effective in photoprotection.

The method used in the research was to topically apply green tea extract on certain areas of the skin and then exposing those treated areas with simulated solar radiation. Now you don’t have to wonder why some skin care products would be advertised as containing such extracts. In any case, you can still absorb these antioxidants by drinking the tea or even eating the whole leaves.

Reduce damage to DNA

In the research that explored the connection between genetics and longevity, one of the important factors mentioned was telomere length. Telomeres are the end parts of chromosomes. They’re not involved in the self-replicating function of DNA but rather serve as buffers that protect the genes from deterioration and prevent chromosomes from improperly binding with other strands.

When cell division occurs, these telomere buffers get shortened but they also get replenished. With age, this regulatory system that keeps DNA intact will of course gradually lose its optimal functionality [4].

Regular green tea drinkers have the advantage because, as one study has shown, the healthy habit has a strong positive correlation with longer telomere length [5]. The participants who drank at least 3 cups (750 milliliters) a day were found to have the longest telomeres.

These buffers are also subject to oxidative stress. Their length is significant to aging for the simple reason that longer telomeres provide more protection for the chromosomes. This in turn means less accumulated damage to DNA and, with all other life span factors considered, a longer and healthier life.

The anti-ageing properties of green tea are just a small part of its long list of health benefits. You can go to this page to discover more of what green tea can provide.

NOTES:

1. The genetics of human longevity.

2. Photoaging: Mechanisms and repair

3. Cutaneous photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols.

4. Telomeres and Aging

5. Chinese tea consumption is associated with longer telomere length in elderly Chinese men.

About Anthony Codispoti
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