Green tea, a well-loved tea and staple in traditional Chinese medicine, has now become popular all over the world for its many health benefits. What are those benefits, exactly? For starters, green tea contains anti-inflammatory compounds that protect against damage to the cells; studies have also linked green tea consumption to better heart health and weight loss. And now, there’s a reason to love it even more.
A new study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, found that green tea consumption improved gut health by populating healthy bacteria in the intestines and reducing leaky gut.
Initially, the researchers from Ohio State were interested in how green tea consumption affected weight gain. To study this, they had one group of mice eat a regular diet and the other a high-fat diet for eight weeks. In both of those groups, half had green tea extract added to their food, and the other did not. They found that the group fed the high-fat diet and given green tea extract gained 20 percent less weight and had decreased insulin resistance than the mice that did not have green tea added to their food.
So what does this have to do with leaky gut and intestinal bacteria? The researchers also noted that the mice in the high-fat, green tea group and the regular diet, green tea group had decreased leaky gut symptoms and healthier bacteria in their GI tract. “This study provides evidence that green tea encourages the growth of good gut bacteria, and that leads to a series of benefits that significantly lower the risk of obesity,” said Richard Bruno, a professor of human nutrition at the Ohio State University and the study’s lead author, in a statement.
Bruno points out that further research on humans is needed to determine how much tea a person would need to drink to gain these benefits but that consuming green tea throughout the day with food would be an excellent place to start.
If you’re looking to get in on these benefits, you’ll want to consider some of these green-tea drinking tips:
1. Find a high-quality tea.
Some tea is grown with pesticides, so you’ll want to consider an organic green tea option. Once you’re in that aisle, look for brands that have high epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol in green tea known to have anti-cancer properties.
2. Follow the prep guidelines.
Many people boil water for our tea, but it turns out green tea can take on a bitter taste if boiled, so it’s best to switch off the stove right before the water boils instead. Once your water is ready, steep your tea bag for three to five minutes.
3. Get the most out of your green tea.
Drinking your green tea more slowly and adding lemon has been shown to bolster the benefits of EGCG. So really take some time and savor all of its goodness.
4. Explore different types of green tea.
Green tea is an umbrella name for a variety of teas such as matcha, a green powder known to boost the immune system and improve mental clarity, and sencha, gyukuro, and bancha. Take some time to try out these teas and figure out which ones you like the most. Your gut microbiome will thank you!