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Green Tea Extract Is More Powerful Than We Thought – An Unexpected Finding

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The latest study on people with a number of heart disease risk factors has proven that taking green tea extract for four weeks can lower blood sugar levels and enhance gut health by lowering inflammation and reducing “leaky gut.”

This study, according to researchers, is the first to examine whether the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea may have a protective effect against the health risks associated with metabolic syndrome, a condition that affects around one-third of Americans.

According to Richard Bruno, senior study author, “there is much evidence that greater consumption of green tea is associated with good levels of cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides, but no studies have linked its benefits in the gut to those health factors.”

The clinical investigation, which involved 40 people, was a follow-up to a 2019 study that revealed improved gut health was associated with lower obesity and fewer health risks in mice that received green tea supplements.

Unexpectedly, the new study found that green tea extract also reduced gut inflammation and permeability in healthy individuals, as well as blood sugar, or glucose.

“What this tells us,” Bruno adds. “is that within one month we’re able to lower blood glucose in both people with metabolic syndrome and healthy people, and the lowering of blood glucose appears to be related to decreasing leaky gut and decreasing gut inflammation — regardless of health status.”

The study was published recently in Current Developments in Nutrition.

At least three of the five risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues—excess belly fat, high blood pressure, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high levels of fasting blood glucose, and triglycerides, a form of blood fat—are present in people with metabolic syndrome.

According to Bruno, the problematic thing about these risk variables that make up metabolic syndrome is that they frequently just have minor changes and do not yet require medication management, although still posing a serious risk to health.

“Most physicians will initially recommend weight loss and exercise. Unfortunately, we know most persons can’t comply with lifestyle modifications for various reasons,” he adds. “Our work is aiming to give people a new food-based tool to help manage their risk for metabolic syndrome or to reverse metabolic syndrome.”

For 28 days, 40 participants—21 with metabolic syndrome and 19 healthy adults—consumed gummy candies containing green tea extract high in catechins, which are anti-inflammatory chemicals. Five cups of green tea made up the recommended daily intake. All participants in the randomized double-blind crossover trial took a placebo for a further 28 days, followed by a month without taking any supplements.

Researchers confirmed that the people in the study did what they were told and ate a diet low in polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, teas, and spices. This meant that any results could be attributed to green tea alone.

The results showed that all of the people who took green tea extract had much lower fasting blood glucose levels than those who took the placebo. Analysis of fecal samples demonstrated a decrease in pro-inflammatory proteins in response to the green tea therapy in all subjects. Using a technique to evaluate sugar ratios in urine samples, researchers discovered that green tea decreased the small intestinal permeability of study participants.

Leaky gut, also known as gut permeability, allows intestinal bacteria and related harmful chemicals to enter the bloodstream, causing chronic low-grade inflammation.

According to Bruno, the central components of all cardiometabolic disorders—obesity and insulin resistance—are assumed to be brought on by the absorption of gut-derived metabolites. “If we can improve gut integrity and reduce leaky gut, the thought is we’ll be able to not only alleviate low-grade inflammation that initiates cardiometabolic disorders, but potentially reverse them.

“We did not attempt to cure metabolic syndrome with a one-month study,” he explains. “But based on what we know about the causal factors behind metabolic syndrome, there is potential for green tea to be acting at least in part at the gut level to alleviate the risk for either developing it or reversing it if you already have metabolic syndrome.”

Bruno’s lab is finishing up more tests on the communities of microorganisms in the guts of study participants and the levels of toxins made by bacteria in their blood.

Image Credit: Getty

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