Green tea may protect your body as a vaccine, study finds

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Green tea is seen as healthy and promotes a longer life, supposedly due to its high level of antioxidants.

In a new study from ETH Zurich, researchers have cast doubt on previous assumptions about how these ingredients work.

They found green tea catechins can promote oxidative stress initially in the short term. This then can increase the defensive capabilities of the cells and the organism, similar to a vaccination.

Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity.

Green tea has long been known to have health benefits. In particular, it contains catechins called ECG and EGCG that are said to prolong life.

These two substances belong to the group of polyphenols. They are considered antioxidants, which means they counteract or prevent oxidative stress in the body caused by aggressive free radicals of oxygen.

Until now, research has assumed that the catechins neutralize these free radicals and thus prevent damage to cells or DNA.

One source of oxygen free radicals is metabolism; for example, when the mitochondria—the powerhouses of the cell—are working to produce energy.

In the study, the team took a closer look at how catechins act in the nematode worm C. elegans. And they have come to a different, seemingly paradoxical conclusion: Rather than suppressing oxidative stress, the catechins in green tea promote it.

They found that these polyphenols from green tea initially increase oxidative stress in the short term, but that this has the subsequent effect of increasing the defensive capabilities of the cells and the organism.

As a result, the catechins in green tea led to longer life and greater fitness in nematodes that were fed them.

That means green tea polyphenols, or catechins, aren’t, in fact, antioxidants, but rather pro-oxidants that improve the organism’s ability to defend itself, similar to a vaccination.

However, this increase in defensive capability manifests not through the immune system, but rather by activating genes that produce certain enzymes.

It is these enzymes that inactivate the free radicals in the nematode; they are essentially endogenous antioxidants.

The team recommends drinking green tea every day, but they are against taking green tea extracts or concentrates. Because at a certain concentration, it becomes toxic.

High-dose catechins inhibit mitochondria to such an extent that cell death ensues, which can be particularly dangerous in the liver.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about this nutrient supplement may help treat fatty liver disease and findings of this nutrient can protect your heart rate.

For more information about nutrition and your health, please see recent studies about this nutrient in your diet may help fight depression and results showing that diet rich in this nutrient may lower blood pressure.

The study is published in Aging. One author of the study is Michael Ristow.

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