One of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning is my tea. Can’t live without it. I get up, put the kettle on and then brew a cup, letting it steep for the recommended four to five minutes. Then I add a bit of milk and enjoy. Otherwise, why bother getting up and dressed?
But it’s black tea I drink the most, at least two cups in the morning. Tea is good for you! But isn’t green tea supposed to be better? I’ve tried green tea, bought quality loose-leaf brands and a gorgeous Chinese tea pot for inspiration, but the woody taste doesn’t appeal. Am I missing out on important health benefits? Yes and no.
Because the story on green tea is a little more complicated than you might think. If you’re drinking green tea for the good of your health and your waistline (it’s reportedly good for boosting metabolism to burn calories), be aware of the green tea diet side effects and green tea symptoms.
What is green tea?
Green tea is made from the steamed and dried leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, a shrub native to Asia. Black tea is made from this same plant, but from leaves that have been fermented. This fermentation may be why the levels of some healthy compounds, such as antioxidants, in the tea are reduced.
Green tea contains greater amounts of chemicals known as polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. The major group of polyphenols in green tea are called catechins. Green tea has been used as in traditional herbal medicine for centuries, for numerous ailments, including stomach problems, vomiting and diarrhea.
How does green tea work?
Research can’t fully explain it. Polyphenols might be able to prevent inflammation and swelling, helping to protect cartilage between the bones and lessen joint discomfort.
Green tea also contains 2 to 4 percent caffeine, less than coffee, but enough to boost thinking and alertness. That’s what I love about tea. That jolt is addictive! Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system, heart and muscles by boosting the release of chemicals in the brain called “neurotransmitters.” So it does a lot of good.
Know the side effects of green tea
But there’s a downside. Drinking too much of it brings me to my next point: Side effects of green tea. If you drink more than five cups daily, you’re going overboard on caffeine and may experience these green tea effects:
- Diabetes: Consumption might affect blood sugar control.
- Diarrhea: It can make it much worse.
- Anxiety disorders where you experience jitteriness, headaches and upset stomach.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): It can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.
- Bleeding disorders: It can increase the risk of bleeding.
- Heart conditions: Might cause irregular heartbeat, especially if it’s taken with stimulant drugs.
- Glaucoma: Could increase pressure inside the eye. The increase happens within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes.
- High blood pressure: Might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, this does not seem to occur in people who regularly drink green tea or other products that contain caffeine.
- Osteoporosis: It can increase the amount of calcium, essential for bone health, which gets flushed out in the urine.
- Nutritional deficiencies: The binding action of polyphenols may make it harder for the body to absorb certain medicines and iron supplements.
- Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not drink green tea in large amounts. Caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the fetus and can also be passed along in breast milk.
Green tea can also interact with some prescription drugs and treatments, so please talk to your doctor before drinking green tea on a regular basis.
So while you’re reading all the newsworthy benefits of green tea, like recent reports of its ability to help boost memory know that “everything in moderation” certainly applies here.
Karen Hawthorne is managing editor at Health eTalk and BelMarraHealth.com. Karen has worked for the National Post, Postmedia News, CBC Radio Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and the Cobourg Daily Star, reporting on health news and lifestyle trends for over 15 years.
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