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Green Tea Extract and Immune Health
Green tea helps boost the immune system, which is your body’s first line of defense against disease and infection! The immune system consists of white blood cells or leukocytes. The main organs in the immune system are the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. Incredibly, your bone marrow produces 1 billion white blood cells every day!
The immune system
There are different types of leukocytes such as neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages. These patrol the body, protecting it from germs and other foreign objects. Each of these targets specific pathogens such as parasites, bacteria, fungi, allergies, pathogens, viruses, tumor cells, and other foreign bodies. Leukocytes are found throughout the body and in the bloodstream. These natural sentinels of the body have a built-in memory system that helps the body become immune to a second attack. Cellular life is very intriguing! There are about 200 types of cells in your body and your body is in a continuous process of replacing old cells with new ones. Every second there are about 50 million cells in your body that die and are replaced by new ones. This process is controlled so that your body has the correct number of cells of each type at any given time. Sometimes cells commit suicide, which is called apostosis. Apostosis is the body’s way of destroying cells that are not normal. Abnormal multiplication of cells can be caused by free radical activity and can lead to cancer. It is interesting to note that all cells in your body recognize each other. Cells belonging to one organ or tissue also recognize each other and this keeps cells from the same organ or tissue together. Leukocytes recognize cells that are abnormal or foreign. Leukocytes work quickly to prevent them from entering your system. This is basically how the immune system works. It is therefore very important that we take proactive measures to support the function of our immune system.
Immune health and nutrition
Immune health works at the cellular level where basic health begins. Cellular function is supported by proper nutrition. The relationship between diet and immune health is explained by Dr. George L. Blackburn, MD, Ph.D., associate director, Department of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. He says, “Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining immune function. A deficiency in one or more essential nutrients can prevent the immune system from functioning at its peak.” David Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut, confirms this: “There is no question that the immune system is fundamentally influenced by overall health – and a balanced diet is key. Not only are essential nutrients crucial for the production and maintenance of important germ-fighting cells in the immune system, but a balanced diet also has a strong effect on vascular function and the immune system is dependent on blood flow, which is the route by which infection-fighting cells travel throughout the body to where they are needed.” Doctors and nutritionists recommend that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid saturated fats and red meat, and exercise regularly to support immune health.
Green tea and immune health
Because immunity is fought at the cellular level, antioxidants play a key role. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants helps your body control free radical activity. Dark-colored fruits and vegetables usually have the highest antioxidant value. Drinking it can help boost your immune system significantly. It is rich in antioxidants, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). In vitro and animal studies show that it can significantly support immune system health. These studies indicate that it may be beneficial for immune system health in many ways:
It exhibits antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
In vitro studies suggest that EGCG prevents the adenovirus from replicating itself. This virus is one of many viruses responsible for causing the common cold according to studies conducted at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada and also at the University of Florida. The latest study indicated that drinkers had an improved ability to fight off colds and flu due to an increase in a specific type of immune cells known as interferon gamma T cells. The study showed that drinkers had a 28% increase in interferon-gamma T cells with a 26% increase in antigen secretion, in contrast to those who did not consume green tea. 1,2 EGCG also helps to inhibit the flu virus from replicating and also exhibits antifungal properties.(3-4)
It helps protect the liver
It protects the liver by boosting the immune system due to the action of powerful antioxidants, reducing damage from toxins caused by excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. The result of such studies indicates that its nutritional supplement may help reduce early toxin-induced liver damage by neutralizing oxidative stress.(5-6)
It helps promote immune cell production.
Tea polysaccharides (TPS), one of the main components, stimulate the production of cytokines in the bone marrow. Cytokines are used in cellular communication and are critical to the body’s immune response to pathogens.(7) A balanced diet along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise will support good health. With countless studies strongly pointing to its beneficial effects, it only makes sense to protect immune system health through green tea supplementation. Instead of reaching for coffee, replace drinking coffee with cups of green tea. Six cups of green tea a day is said to boost your immunity 5 times faster than regular coffee. You can brew fresh cups of Green Tea every day, but supplements like Green Tea Plus are convenient and packed with antioxidants. Green Tea Plus contains 6 times the antioxidant power of a freshly brewed cup of green tea.
- Inhibition of adenovirus infection and adenaine by green tea catechins, Antiviral Res. Apr 2003;58(2):167-73. PMID: 12742577
- Specific formulation of Camellia sinensis prevents cold and flu symptoms and improves T-cell function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 26, no. 5, 445-452 (2007), American College of Nutrition
- Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on the flu virus, Antiviral Res. Nov 2005;68(2):66-74. Epub 2005 Aug 9. PMID: 16137775
- Multiple effects of green tea catechin on the antifungal activity of antifungal drugs against Candida albicans.J Antimicrob Chemother. February 2004;53(2):225-9. Epub 2003 Dec 19. PMID: 14688042
- Green tea extract protects against early alcohol-induced liver injury in rats, Biol Chem. 2002 March-April;383(3-4):663-70. PMID: 12033455
- Imai K, Nakachi K. Cross-sectional study of the effects of green tea drinking on cardiovascular disease and liver disease. BMJ. March 18, 1995; 310 (6981): 693-6.
- Epigallocatechin gallate modulates cytokine production by bone marrow-derived dendritic cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide or muramyl dipeptide, or infected with Legionella pneumophila, Experimental Biology and Medicine 230:645-651 (2005). Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
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