Sixty percent of American adults are overweight. Over half of these (34%) are classified as obese. Though many are trying to fight the bulge, only five percent doing so are able to keep the weight off for longer than a year. Contrast this with the obesity statistics of Japan – 3%. It leaves many wondering if the Japanese have merely been blessed by the weight gods or if they have some special trick to be one of the slimmest, healthiest nations in the world. The secret is in their beverage of choice – green tea.
The Chinese have been using green tea for medicinal purposes for at least the past 4,000 years. Healers from the Shang Dynasty are believed to have prescribed the drink to cure ailments ranging from depression to controlling bleeding. They also realized that drinking green tea with a meal helped aid digestion.
Scientists believe that catechin, the predominant chemical in green tea, stimulates fat loss. The most potent if these catechins, Epigallocatechin (EGCG) stop the stimulation of digestive enzymes that absorb lipids into the digestion system. In doing so, fat is more likely to pass through the body instead of being stored and converted into fat cells. When having a heavy meal, it is suggested that you have a glass of green tea just prior to consuming the meal, as doing so will kick start the liver into pushing proteins, carbohydrates and lipids into the blood stream to be utilized rather than storing them to be converted into fat cells.
A German study showed that EGCG can reduce the absorption of lipids by up to 40%. It also found that throughout the study, participants recorded lower blood cholesterol levels and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), commonly referred to as the ‘bad cholesterol.’ Another German study, in which scientist fed rats a high fat diet with ECGC supplements, resulted in the rats being able to accelerate the rate in which their tiny metabolisms burned the extra fat introduced into their diet. Tests have been done on rats in Japan with results comparable to their German counterparts. Though the human digestive system is markedly different than rats, when tested on humans similar results were noted.
As well as being a noteworthy fat buster, drinking green tea can also help the fight against free radicals in the body. The catechins in the tea are a powerful antioxidant that can counterattack against toxins that build up within the body. Every day activities, dyes and perfumes in our cleaning products and common environmental factors can put stress on our bodies causing them to age prematurely. Factor in family, work, and social stressors, and our bodies can end up looking haggard and in need of repair. Regular consumption of green tea can help break down those toxins and after repeated drinking, can leave you looking and feeling refreshed.
It’s little wonder that Asian nations such as China and Japan are putting western countries to shame in the battle of the bulge. It’s time we did something about and used a little secret these nations have known for centuries – a cup of green tea a day, surely keeps the doctor away.
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