Tea fights diabetes

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Natural Medicine


I grew up in a family where several members drank black tea, meaning without milk, but really it just applies to the type of tea. Black tea, long known for its antioxidants, immune boosting and antihypertensive properties, could also help treat diabetes.

Researchers studied the polysaccharide levels of green, oolong and black teas because polysaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose which help retard absorption of glucose.

The researchers found that of the three teas, the polysaccharides in black tea had the most glucose-inhibiting properties and their polysaccharides also showed the highest scavenging effect on free radicals, which are involved in the onset of diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

In another recent study, participants who drank black tea had significantly reduced plasma glucose concentrations after two hours, compared to those who drank water or caffeine drinks. Drinking black tea also increased insulin levels, compared with the other drinks.

That study linked black tea’s diabetic benefits to polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants) and these compounds are thought to work by stimulating your B-cells — pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production — to produce insulin in your body. A growing body of research also suggests that the polyphenols in tea can lower your cholesterol, triglyceride levels and blood pressure, and even help to protect your bones. That study linked black tea’s diabetic benefits to polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants), including Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), of which more below!

My Green Tea Comment:

Although black tea was found to contain more glucose inhibiting polysaccharides, green tea may still be the most beneficial tea of them all, including for diabetics. A previous study found that EGCG in green tea worked as well in moderately diabetic mice as the diabetes drug Avandia, for example.

Another study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that green tea-extract also had a positive impact on glucose abnormalities. In that study, daily supplementary intake of green tea-extract lowered the hemoglobin A1c level in individuals with borderline diabetes.

So for my money black tea is not as healthy as green tea as they undergo far more processing. Oxidation is the main deciding factor whether you have green, oolong, or black tea, and black tea undergoes the most amount of oxidation through application of high heat. Good green tea is not oxidized at all and, like the Irish fields, the greener it is the higher the quality.

Fluoride is a common contaminant in many black teas and this toxic substance can have profoundly negative effects on your body. Green tea is the least processed kind of tea, and therefore typically contains the least amount of fluoride and the most EGCG of all tea varieties, which is a very good thing for your health.

I am currently trying a new type of green tea, Matcha, which contains the entire ground tea leaf, and can contain over 100 times the EGCG provided from regular brewed green tea. I will let you know how I get on with it.

Breast cancer natural preventives


As I always believe prevention is better than cure, I am happy to report two new pieces of information this week on easy, natural and enjoyable ways to reduce breast cancer risk.

Breakthrough 1 gives you even more reasons to enjoy a nice cup of tea. If you are a regular black or green tea drinker then you are already helping to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and endometrial cancer. Regular tea drinking has two important functions: it inhibits uncontrolled cell growth, known as cell proliferation, and encourages the death of cancer cells, known as apoptosis. A recent study found that smokers who drank four cups of decaffeinated green tea per day showed a 31 percent decrease in oxidative DNA damage in white blood cells as compared to those who drank four cups of water. Oxidative DNA damage is implicated in the promotion of many forms of cancer. Now a new study has also linked tea to a substantial decrease in breast cancer risk. Particularly for women under 50, the risk is reduced by 37%, and as this is the group in whom the cancer can be particularly virulent and fast acting this is very worthwhile news. In fact, let’s raise a cup together, preferably green or white tea as these are the least processed. The darker the tea, the more processing as a rule, but these two have even more health benefits, and up that to three cups a day to boost your immune system and lower your cancer risk.

Breakthrough 2 concerns another favourite staple, and that is olive oil. Australian researchers have reported that that olive oil has a host of positive health effects, and now researchers from the Catalonian Institute of Oncology (ICO) in Girona have discovered specifically that extra virgin olive oil appears to be a powerful weapon against breast cancer.

The key ingredient is the polyphenols that are present in extra virgin olive oil. These are powerful natural antioxidants found in abundance in olive oil and are highly active against both HER2-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers cells. Polyphenols in the oil not only inhibit the activity of cancer-promoting HER2 activity but also promotes the protein’s degradation.

As Jamie Oliver would say, give it a good glug and not only will your food taste better, but your cells will thank you.

New black tea for refreshment

February 20, 2009 by  
Filed under At Home, featured


I am a great advocate of the health benefits of green tea, but the truth is it’s flavour is not to everyone’s taste. If you are addicted to your ‘real’ tea, and usually drink it black with a squeeze of lemon, then a healthy option is a new blend of organic black tea with lemon verbena. From Hambleden Herbs, this blends leaves from, Africa, Ceylon and Southern India to produce a smooth, well rounded tea you can drink at any time and no need to keep slicing up a lemon.