Here’s a simple way to burn calories without having to undertake strenuous exercise - or even move an inch.
Scientists have discovered that the body uses more energy if you take...
Remember your first lesson in natural medicine
Green tea - the superstar of the tea world - needs no introduction. It represents the ABC of natural health and was probably the first remedy you came across. Green tea has a reputation for being the healthiest drink in the world.
We think we know all there is to know about it and yet green tea continues to dazzle us with each new discovery that’s made.
It may not look much but it is packed with powerful substances that benefit human health.
Its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties - particularly against breast cancer - are well-recognized.
But green tea also offers an alternative approach to losing weight, improving stamina and increasing energy levels.
What do you actually know about tea?
After water, tea is the most consumed drink in the world today. Green tea represents 18% of global tea consumption, and black tea, 80%.
There is considerable misunderstanding surrounding tea - many people think that black tea, green tea and white tea come from different plant species with leaf colour ranging from light to dark green.
The reality is completely different.
All 3200 varieties of tea are obtained froma single species of shrub
, Camelia sinensis
. Many factors go towards determining the tea’s flavour: climate
, when it is picked
(spring, summer, autumn, winter), and above all how it is processed
is a key step which makes all the difference to the eventual taste of the tea (withering of the leaves, oxidation, drying, roasting, post-fermentation, scenting, flavouring, manufacturing secrets, etc, as required).
The end result is an infinite variety of tea types - even when you compare two green teas. For example, it is said that the taste of the green tea you get in Japan is closer to watercress soup than to the green tea drunk in Europe.
Green tea: the most precious of all teas
Of all the varieties of tea, green tea is the most popular in terms of therapeutic use. The difference between tea varieties results from the processing of the leaves. Green tea undergoes the least processing, enabling optimal preservation of its efficacy, properties and active substances.
Green tea is not simply a green infusion. It has significant amounts of polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, in particular epigallocatechine-gallate (EGCG). Their antioxidant potency is well-established with EGCG being among the most potent of all known antioxidants.
Green tea is rich in vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. It also contains caffeine and other vitamins: A, B, B2, K and PP, as well as manganese and selenium to prevent free radical-initiated damage, zinc to improve neurological function and magnesium to increase energy levels.
One dehydrated leaf of green tea contains 0.5%-10% caffeine and 15%-30% catechins of which an average 50%-75% are EGCG.
Green tea helps your body burn calories all by itself
Two researchers at the University of Basel conducted a large-scale review of all in vitro and in vivo (human and animal) studies on EGCG and green tea. The majority showed that green tea and green tea extracts are effective at aiding weight loss, controlling blood sugar and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease linked to excess weight .
Other studies have demonstrated that green tea increases energy expenditure - drinking green tea makes your body burn more calories enabling you to lose weight faster.
Green tea is also rich in theanine, a substance that interests scientists. Preliminary research shows that theanine has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and a stimulant effect on the immune system [2-5] though further data is needed to confirm such effects.
Burn fat and boost stamina
Green tea is also known to accelerate the body’s ability to burn fat during exercise  and improve cardiac capacity and endurance.
In one study, 10 healthy males who consumed green tea saw their energy expenditure increase by 4% .
Green tea makes the body specifically burn fat. One study showed that fat oxidation increased by 17% in subjects who had consumed green tea .
Several studies have found that green tea contributes to weight loss, particularly in the stomach area [9-11].
It should be noted that subjects lost more weight when green tea consumption was accompanied by exercise.
A large-scale, 12-week study involving 240 male and female subjects found that green tea significantly reduced fat mass, waist size and abdominal fat .
It must be said that it does not work for everyone. Some studies have failed to show any acceleration in metabolism resulting from green tea consumption. It all depends on initial levels of consumption: in those already consuming a lot of green tea or coffee, an additional dose of green tea has little effect on weight, but for others, the benefits are clear .
The caffeine in green tea is also recognised as improving physical performance (by 12% according to a review of British studies) . It is beneficial for playing sports, improving stamina or simply being more active throughout the day
Caffeine acts by mobilising the fatty acids in fatty tissues to make them available as a direct source of energy during exercise, and in making muscles more reactive in contractions which directly increases strength in quick burst sports such as weight training and rugby etc.
EGCG has been shown to be effective at improving cardiac capacity and stamina. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, US scientists discovered that EGCG increased consumption of VO2max without accelerating the heart rate . This suggests that EGCG increases cardiac output by elevating the arteriovenous oxygen difference
, a technical term that shows the capillaries are extracting oxygen from the blood more effectively for use during exercise.
Green tea is therefore recommended for burning more calories, losing fat mass and increasing physical performance.
Not all green teas are the same
A number of the green teas currently available are oxidised which can destroy their beneficial properties. Make sure you check your green tea carefully to ensure its quality - if it is more brown in colour than green, it may have been oxidised.
It is also important to ensure your green tea is pure. Good quality teas do not contain excessive lead, fluoride, mercury, arsenic, cadmium or aluminium. Contamination in cheap teas comes from the tea plant absorbing substances from the soil through its roots. If it is grown in a polluted area, it will absorb lead and fluoride, for example, from the soil.
That is why green teas from Japan are preferable to those from China where the soil is more polluted.
Not all green teas have the same EGCG content, the major antioxidant in green tea - indeed, testing the EGCG concentration of different green teas has shown that its content varies by as much as 20-fold! Indeed, some green tea-based products have been found to contain absolutely no EGCG
Equally, not all green teas contain the same amount of caffeine - some have high concentrations which are bad for the health. Some green tea supplements have been found to contain more caffeine than a cup of coffee.
Given such huge differences, I urge you to choose your green tea carefully.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says “it is better to go without food for three days than without tea for one day.”
This applies perfectly to modern lifestyles: given today’s processed food full of flavour enhancers, convenience meals packed with preservatives and the abundance of refined sugar in our diets, everyone would benefit from eating less of these and drinking more green tea
Beware of green tea sachets
Tea bags made of paper can be harmful if they have been treated with epichlorohydrin. On contact with water, this substance releases 3-MCPD, a chemical identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as a potential cause of cancer, infertility and compromised immunity
Some tea sachets are made of plastic - with a synthetic polymer base such as nylon or PVC. These plastics only melt at high temperatures but before they melt, the polymers begin to break down at lower temperatures. By plunging your tea bag into boiling water, there is a risk that the polymers will release harmful substances, the health effects of which are largely unknown.
It is generally preferable, therefore, to opt for loose tea rather than tea bags.
The art of preparing green tea
Preparing green tea requires more care than you might imagine. If you want to benefit from all its health properties, this is the best way to go about it :
1. Choose loose whole-leaf tea rather than finely chopped tea in a bag.
A simple way to benefit from green tea’s virtues
2. Bring water to the boil in a saucepan or kettle. Do not use a non-stick pan as the special coating can release harmful chemicals in boiling water.
3. Stop heating the water once it has reached a temperature of between 77°C and 85°C.
4. Leave to rest for one minute.
5. Preheat your teapot or cup to prevent the water from cooling when transferred. Pour in some boiling water, cover with a cloth, wait a moment then empty out the water.
6. Allow four teaspoons of tea leaves to one litre of water.
7. Add the tea leaves using a tea strainer or infuser or simply place them in the bottom of the teapot - the latter method produces a stronger infusion.
8. Pour the water in again and cover the teapot with a lid or cloth for 2-3 minutes.
9. Taste frequently - the tea should be full of flavour but not bitter - then remove the tea leaves and enjoy.
Many people would like to avail themselves of green tea’s health benefits but are unsure how to go about it: they don’t know where to buy good quality green tea free from excessive fluoride. They are unfamiliar with all the exotic names and specialised vocabulary on the packaging. Faced with «Oolong», «Gunpowder», «golden buds», «silver tips», «Lapsang Souchong», «single estate», «loose leaf», «pu-erh», «blend», «Orange Pekoe», and «first flush», they’re completely lost.
They worry the tea is out of date, the water is too hot, or that the leaves have been left to steep too long, etc.
So many factors can affect the quality of the tea to such a degree that the body does not benefit from its well-established active substances.
Alongside the many people who are not ‘tea experts’, there are those who simply do not like the taste of green tea and some who go as far as to add four sugars to mask its taste - a move which should definitely be avoided.
For all these individuals who are ‘uncomfortable’ with green tea, there is a simple alternative: green tea capsules.
Capsules of green tea extract contain an even higher concentration of active substances than is provided by several cups of green tea  and its efficacy in helping to reduce fat mass and increase stamina is thus even greater.
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 The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Lu K, Gray MA, Oliver C, Liley DT, Harrison BJ, Bartholomeusz CF, Phan KL, Nathan PJ. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Oct;19(7):457-65.
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 Specific formulation of Camellia sinensis prevents cold and flu symptoms and enhances gamma,delta T cell function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Rowe CA, Nantz MP, et al. J Am Coll.Nutr 2007;26(5):445-452.
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