Green Tea | Benefits, Research & Recipe
Ever thought about sharing a cup of tea with your pet? Tea is one of the most commonly consumed drinks in the world. And from medicine to mainstream, tea has had a historical imprint for its medicinal properties and culture surrounding it. But how can tea help your pet?
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea originated in China and has spread from other East Asian countries around the globe. Green tea is made from the Camellia sinuses plant. The plant's leaf buds are used to make several different types of teas aside from green tea, such as black and oolong teas. Green teas do not undergo the same oxidation process as oolong and black teas. The oxidation process decreases the levels of catechins, the main antioxidant agent. As green tea is less processed, it contains more catechins. The highest quality green teas are made from the top of the young shot, whereas the developed leaves at the base are of lower quality.
What Are The Benefits?
As mentioned above, catechins are the primary antioxidant in teas. Catechins are natural polyphenolic phytochemicals that exist in food and medicinal plants. Polyphenols are a powerful type of antioxidant that fight free radicals that damage cells and decrease the risk of certain diseases. Several studies have also found catechins, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), in green tea, can lower inflammation, aid in weight loss cardiovascular health, and protect against cancer.
A 12-week study with sixteen healthy adult male beagles by BMC Veterinary Research showed that tea polyphenols can act as a "therapeutic agent for obesity, liver inflammation, and fat degeneration via COX-2 and iNOS inhibition, with TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 involvement."
A study by Nat Rev Cancer saw that there was considerable evidence that green tea has anti-cancer activities through "inhibit[ing] enzyme activities and signal transduction pathways, resulting in the suppression of cell proliferation and enhancement of apoptosis, as well as the inhibition of cell invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis."
An 18-week long study showed green tea polyphenols (GTPs) "decreased expression levels of inflammatory cytokines" and also "decreased the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and Fusobacteria and increased the relative abundance of Firmicutes as revealed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis." This shows the "therapeutic effects of GTPs correspond with changes in gut microbiota and intestinal inflammation, which may be related to the anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity mechanisms of GTPs."
A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology on humans in China that followed over 100,000 people for 7 years found that frequent tea drinkers had a "20% decreased risk of cardiovascular events" compared to those who drank less frequently or not at all.
Researchers at the University of Kansas found that EGCG in green tea was "approximately 100 times more effective than vitamin C, 25 times more effective than vitamin E, and nearly twice as effective as red wine" in their antioxidant effects.
Polyphenols in green tea may also have a prebiotic effect. Prebiotics encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibit the growth of pathogenic such as Clostridium species. This was shown in animal and human studies. After 10 days, Bifidobacterium (a "good" bacteria") increased.
The studies above are merely scratching the surface of research done on humans and animals on the medicinal properties of green tea.
Should I Incorporate Green Tea?
Green tea can be a great addition to any conditions that call for antioxidants. As oxidative stress can accumulate from normal bodily functions and environmentally, supplying an array of antioxidants dietarily can be a beneficial addition. Green tea may also have powerful benefits against cancer as its action against cancers in humans may have the same effect in animals.
Epidemiological studies suggest drinking green tea may inhibit several tumor types such as "cancers of the stomach, gall bladder, prostate, uterus, lung, intestine, colon, rectum, and pancreas." But studies show that these cancer-protective effects may depend on the "causative factors of specific cancer," so further research must be conducted to establish a clear connection.
According to veterinarians Steve Marsden, Shawn Messonnier, and Cheryl Yuill, "Although they are absorbed into all body tissues, green tea catechins concentrate in the liver and digestive tract of dogs and laboratory animals, making it more likely they will be protective to these body regions."
Is Green Tea Safe?
Teas are generally considered safe, but some individuals may be sensitive. Green tea is naturally caffeinated, but decaffeinated green tea can be purchased instead. Decaffeinated tea is only around 97% caffeine-free, so trace amounts of caffeine will be present. Decaffeination can happen through 4 processes. Two use chemical solvents, ethyl acetate, and methylene chloride, another one uses carbon dioxide, and the last method uses water. When purchasing a decaffeinated tea, ensure it goes through a water or carbon dioxide method to decaffeinate the product vs. a chemical process.
Quality decaffeinated green tea brands include:
How To Feed
If feeding for a specific condition, consult with a holistic or integrative vet for proper dosage. For general antioxidant benefits, Dr. Karen Becker's recipe goes as follows:
1. Combine 3 cups of purified water and 1 tea bag or 1 tablespoon of loose tea leaves.
2. Steep for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the tea bag or use a filter to remove the tea leaves.
4. Store the tea in a covered, preferably glass pitcher in the fridge for up to 3 days or pour in silicone molds and freeze.
If possible, brew tea with filtered water. Researchers at Cornell University found that tea brewed with local tap water only contained half the EGCG present in tea made with deionized or bottled water. This was due to the concentrations of minerals in the tap water, such as calcium and magnesium. The researchers "suggest that those seeking greater health benefits should use a more purified water source to brew green tea, while those more concerned with flavor may prefer to use water from the tap."
When heating water, avoid microwaving and opt for boiling water instead. The reason being a study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis showed that microwaving room temperature would not release all catechins compared to simply using boiling water.
Cats: 1 tablespoon
Small dogs: ⅛ cup
Medium dogs: ¼ to ½ cup
Large dogs: ½ to 1 cup
Tea has a long intertwined history with its health-promoting and medicinal properties. With continuous, detailed, and focused research on its benefits for animals and humans, this simple addition can positively impact health and longevity. As always, I hope you learned something new today & Always Keep Exploring!