Researchers have found that some ingredients in green tea can prolong life and improve the health of individuals.
Many scientists thought green tea was an oxidant
Scientists believe that ECG and EGCG, the catechins in tea, can increase life span. These catechins are polyphenols and are antioxidants. Antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress caused by oxygen’s free radicals in the body. Scientists have always assumed that these catechins work by neutralizing the free radicals hence preventing cell impairment.
Although many scientists supported the hypothesis, there was no evidence because catechins were metabolized in vivo. Scientists also know little about the redox environment in the cell.
The researchers found that the free radicals initially increase oxidative stress. However, they would later augment the defense abilities of cells.
Green tea is a pro-oxidant
According to Michael Ristow, an energy metabolism professor at the health science and technology department, ETH Zurich, the catechins appeared to be pro-oxidants rather than oxidants. They worked by enhancing the cell’s ability to defend itself.
Catechins triggered genes that produce catalase and superoxide dismutase. These enzymes, which are endogenous antioxidants, were responsible for neutralizing the free radicals.
Ristow was not surprised to discover this mechanism. In 2008, he conducted another study that showed that sporting activities were suitable for people’s health as they increased oxidative stress.
Low-calorie doses have the same effect. Studies have shown that most on a low-calorie diet lived longer lives than those on a high-calorie diet.
Although the team experimented on nematodes, researchers believe that the results can apply to humans. The neutralizing of oxygen free radicals is the same in all organisms, including nematodes, unicellular yeasts, and humans.
Ristow admits that he takes green tea himself. However, he advises against consuming green tea concentrates and extracts as high concentrations of green tea can be toxic. Additionally, both doses of catechins can cause mitochondrial damage, destroying the cell and eventually the liver.
Japanese varieties of green tea have the highest amount of catechins. However, sufficient levels are in other varieties. Black tea has a lower con concentration of catching as the process of fermentation destroys them. For this reason, many people have a preference for green tea.
Scientists also believe that the polyphenols in green tea can reduce the risk of cancer.