Green Tea Extract: The Secret to Healthy Aging
Tea, the most popular beverage worldwide after water, comes in various forms—black, oolong, white, and green. Among these, green tea stands out for its numerous health benefits attributed to its high antioxidant and polyphenol content. Let’s discuss the health benefits of a specific compound found in green tea—Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)—and how it can contribute to healthier aging.
The History and Mythology of Green Tea
Green tea's journey dates back 5,000 years to India and China, where it was used as a stimulant, wound healer, and heart health supporter. Over the years, the consumption of green tea spread across Asia, the United States, Europe, and parts of North Africa. In ancient times, it was believed that green tea sprouted from the spot where Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, tossed his eyelids in frustration over his inability to maintain wakefulness during meditation.
Green tea is made from the freshly harvested leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are immediately steamed to prevent fermentation, which preserves their green color and the natural polyphenols that give green tea its health-boosting properties.
The Power of EGCG in Green Tea
Green tea is a rich source of polyphenols, specifically catechins, which have potent antioxidant properties. Among the several catechins in green tea, EGCG is the most active and extensively studied. It has been found to be 100 times more effective at neutralizing free radicals—harmful molecules that can damage our cells and DNA—than vitamin C, as well as 25 times more powerful than vitamin E.
Green Tea and Healthy Aging
Recent research has shown that EGCG has the potential to extend lifespan by combating cellular senescence, a state of irreversible growth arrest that cells undergo as they age. These senescent cells remain in the body, causing inflammation and accelerating aging. The use of senolytics, compounds that can remove these harmful cells, is currently being studied to promote longevity and healthy aging.
EGCG: A Potential Senolytic
A groundbreaking study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry provides compelling evidence of EGCG's senolytic qualities in a murine model. The study, conducted by researchers from the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research located in Palampur, India, showed that EGCG consumption extended the lifespan of aging mice by fighting cellular senescence.
The researchers further speculated that the improved survival rates were likely due to EGCG's ability to mitigate age-related responses and reduce inflammation in aging adipose tissue and the intestines. Interestingly, they also found that EGCG promoted autophagy, a process that eliminates damaged cells and makes room for new, healthy ones.
The researchers concluded that regular intake of EGCG may effectively combat both cell aging and SASP (an inflammatory feature of senescence that secretes a cascade of destructive compounds), making it an exceptional choice for the creation of anti-aging approaches based on cellular senescence.
EGCG and Weight Management
In addition to its anti-aging properties, EGCG has been studied for its potential to improve body composition in humans. Here are some ways it may contribute to weight management:
- EGCG Promotes Fat Oxidation: EGCG has been shown to increase fat oxidation, which could contribute to its weight management effects.
- EGCG Enhances "Good" Fat and Reduces "Bad" Fat: EGCG can increase the amount of brown fat, or "good" fat, which helps burn calories, while reducing white fat, or "bad" fat.
- EGCG May Reduce Belly Fat: EGCG may block the formation of new white fat cells, helping reduce abdominal fat.
- EGCG May Help Regulate Blood Sugar: High blood sugar can lead to weight gain. EGCG's antioxidants have been found to limit the amount of carbohydrates absorbed by the body, resulting in improved sugar metabolism and blood glucose levels.
EGCG and Cardiovascular Health
Green tea's EGCG may also benefit heart health by reducing vascular inflammation, oxidative stress, and improving lipid profiles. In a randomized controlled trial enrolling obese adults with high blood pressure, those who received a supplement of green tea extract for three months had significant improvements in several cardiovascular health markers compared to the placebo group.
Additional Health Benefits of EGCG
Green tea and its potent molecule EGCG have been the subject of studies for their potential benefits in managing health issues ranging from cognitive impairment to gut health.
EGCG has been associated with enhanced cognitive functioning, with several studies suggesting a protective role against cognitive impairments. This is thought to be due to its antioxidant properties as well as ability to cool age-related inflammation, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, two key elements involved in neurodegenerative disorders. Further, EGCG can modulate neurochemicals and signaling pathways that support neural health, thereby potentially delaying cognitive decline.
Emerging research indicates that EGCG may also promote gut health, specifically by enhancing the diversity of beneficial gut microbiota. It's postulated that EGCG can act as a prebiotic, fostering an environment conducive to the proliferation of beneficial bacterial strains. As the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in immune function, metabolism, and overall health, this potential impact of EGCG could contribute significantly to a healthier aging process. It's worth noting that while the evidence is promising, more extensive research is required to fully understand the effects of EGCG on gut health and its implications for overall wellbeing.
How to Harness the Benefits of Green Tea
While drinking green tea is certainly beneficial, it may be more convenient and effective to take a supplement containing EGCG, especially for those who find it challenging to drink the required amount of green tea daily. Always choose your supplements carefully. Choose a brand that uses third-party testing, FDA-registered facilities, and bases their formulations off of rigorous research. This is the mission behind ProHealth: to provide you with the highest quality and purity supplements so you know you’re doing the best thing for your current health and your longevity.
Green tea, and particularly its potent compound EGCG, offers numerous health benefits that can contribute to healthy aging. With its potential to combat cellular senescence and promote longevity, as well as its positive effects on weight management, cardiovascular health, and cognitive functioning, EGCG seems to be a promising candidate for inclusion in your everyday routine.
While EGCG can contribute to overall health, remember to be mindful with the rest of your diet and lifestyle decisions. Incorporating more green tea and EGCG is one way you can slow down the damage of the aging process to live better, longer.
- Sharma R, Kumar R, Sharma A, Goel A, Padwad Y. Long-term consumption of green tea EGCG enhances murine health span by mitigating multiple aspects of cellular senescence in mitotic and post-mitotic tissues, gut dysbiosis, and immunosenescence. J Nutr Biochem. 2022;107:109068. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2022.109068
- Boschmann M, Thielecke F. The effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate on thermogenesis and fat oxidation in obese men: a pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(4):389S-395S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2007.10719627
- Nagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):122-129. doi:10.1093/ajcn/81.1.122
- Takahashi M, Miyashita M, Suzuki K, et al. Acute ingestion of catechin-rich green tea improves postprandial glucose status and increases serum thioredoxin concentrations in postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014;112(9):1542-1550. doi:10.1017/S0007114514002530
- Intra J, Kuo SM. Physiological levels of tea catechins increase cellular lipid antioxidant activity of vitamin C and vitamin E in human intestinal Caco-2 cells. Chemico-Biological Interactions. 2007;169(2):91-99. doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2007.05.007
- Forcano L, Fauria K, Soldevila‐Domenech N, et al. Prevention of cognitive decline in subjective cognitive decline APOE ε4 carriers after EGCG and a multimodal intervention (Pensa): Study design. A&D Transl Res & Clin Interv. 2021;7(1). doi:10.1002/trc2.12155
- Wen JJ, Li MZ, Chen CH, et al. Tea polyphenol and epigallocatechin gallate ameliorate hyperlipidemia via regulating liver metabolism and remodeling gut microbiota. Food Chemistry. 2023;404:134591. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.134591