En Jie's Blog

Is green tea effective for weight control?

Green tea and health

There has been quite some publicity recently in the media regarding the potential harmful effects of green tea supplements, such as this: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/health-warning-issued-about-risks-of-green-tea-supplements-1.3346467

Surprise? Not really. It is like giving someone a fishing sinker to swallow because he/she has anaemia. It does more harm than good.

Green tea health benefits can be seen as an extension of Chinese herbal medicine. The research of western science into its health benefits started a few decades ago – when it was realised that the infectious diseases as the main killer of our population were largely under control, but lifestyle related conditions such as obesity, cancers, cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes started affecting not only people’s life quantity but also quality. The surgery knifes and tablets were not all effective in providing much needed answers.

Researches and the interpretation of the results

The research findings, initially based on the lifestyles and health outcomes of people living in certain countries such as China and Japan, were as expected and exciting: green tea consumption is effective in preventing most of these lifestyle related conditions including obesity.

When opportunities presented as such, many merchants jumped on the wagon with the awareness of:

  1. People are desperate to improve their lifestyle related conditions, especially obesity in our society.
  2. Categorised as a beverage but not pharmaceutical, the regulation on green tea supplements are not anywhere as strict. Without backing up by evidence based science (be careful to distinguish between green tea and green tea supplements here!), many supplements of high concentration of catechins have appeared on the market, based on the assumption that ‘if it is good, the more the better’.

Chinese herbal medicine and its reflection on green tea's health benefits

To understand the differences between these supplements and the health benefits of green tea in its natural state, we have to understand a bit about traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is an experimental science. It is a result of thousands of years of Chinese herbalists tasting, testing and experimenting with thousands of herbs, their combinations and effects on various stages of heath conditions. Anyone with experience with a Chinese herbalist (a professionally trained one), would know that the herbalist would assess the state of the health condition regularly and prescribe classically a group of herbs (5-10) at a time. They also adjust the weight of each herb, and the combination for each prescription. The theory is that the bio-medically active ingredients from these herbs work as big compounds within certain environment to produce their desired effects.

An example of this is that there has been a recent research project conducted by one of the leading universities in China attempting to isolate the ‘active compounds’ of Pu-erh tea. The started from the whole leaves and gradually break down to smaller and smaller components. What they discovered was that the studied health benefits were demolishing with these ‘breaking up’ until they disappeared completely.

Green tea's health benefits

What do we know about green teas’ health benefits so far, especially regarding weight management:

  1. Green tea contains high levels of anti-oxidants with many health benefits towards various modern lifestyle related health conditions.
  2. Most of the research results point to green tea catechins in combination with caffeine are effective in weight control through regulating body metabolism rate and fat oxidisation.
  3. The above effect is reduced among habitual caffeine consumers.
  4. Green tea is also beneficial during the weight maintaining stage after weight loss through counteracting the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs during weight loss.
  5. The effect is moderate and should be combined with active lifestyle and healthy diet to achieve a sustainable and optimal result.
  6. It is difficult to drink too much green tea. It is however certainly possible to overdose with green tea supplements.

For more research reports on green tea’s health benefits, please visit: Research findings about tea and weight control

Conclusion:

Green tea is a gift from the mother nature. It is a luscious beverage to be enjoyed first and the health benefits are by-products. We are all aware that swallowing pills and going under the surgery knifes are not the solution to our ‘lifestyle related health conditions’, but living a healthy lifestyle will, including enjoying your daily cup of premium tea.

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If exercise is not the answer to weight loss, what is it?

Exercise is not the answer to weight loss?

weight loss and lifestyleIf exercise is not the answer to weight loss, what is it? Weight management is a matter of concern for many in our society, 63% precisely according to Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/fitness/why-is-exercise-useless-for-weight-loss-20170223-gujmzc.html). At the same time, the article claimed that ‘exercise is useless for weight loss’. Surprise to anyone? Well, we have seen so many who have lost it and put back more after.

So if this simple primary school math, we burn more than we eat, doesn’t work, anything else does? It does not take much to come up with a list of ‘quick fixes’ that have marketed as cure (including exercise), but rarely work: diet, supplements, and many more peculiar ones.

Obesity is a lifestyle condition

Obesity is classified as a ‘lifestyle condition’ in public health, together with many other conditions such as cancers, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and arthritis just to name a few. If the conditions are caused by our modern lifestyle, it is not hard to imagine that the answers should lay at fixing the cause - lifestyle.

The solution

Fortunately we do not need to look too far. Our ancestors a couple of generations ahead of us had a significantly different lifestyle: no cars, everything was by foot, or bikes or horses if lucky; No fridges. All foods were from the markets or own fields straight to the kitchen (Walked to the market too!); Meat was only consumed on only limited and special occasions; Their diet was mainly freshly produced foods – raw and unprocessed. Ice cream or chips were certainly not part of the daily menu; Water, tea, maybe coffee were the beverages, no coca cola or red bull. The end results? They were actually healthier, both physically and mentally. (The main killers of their time were infections, but not the contemporary men made lifestyle conditions.)

Don’t get me wrong though, I am not here to suggest that we should all get rid of our cars and fridges and bring back the old farmers’ markets so that we can lose weight. I am simply suggesting there is a lot we can learn from our ancestors with regard to a healthy lifestyle: outdoor, active, diet, mentality, habits and so on. With some reflection and discipline, maybe we can use the modern facilities to our advantage when dealing with this seemly impossible chellanges of our era.

Remember, obesity is a lifestyle related condition. Unless we make some effort to change our lifestyle, it is here to stay.

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Various aspects of teas being seasonal

When talk about seasonal tea, people immediately associate it with the teas harvested during the last harvest season.

Seasonal production of the teas

In China, the Qing-Ming ( 清明) season which is normally around the early April is the main season for tea harvesting. The pre-Qing-Ming teas are of higher value as the tea leaves grow in colder weather conditions, taking longer to grow, storing more nutrients with richer flavour. The harvest season can last through May. The later the leaves are harvested, the warmer the weather conditions are and the faster the leaves grow. The teas made of the later leaves are however not as rich and delicate in flavour as the early flushes. Apart from the spring harvest (Qing-Ming harvest), many tea farms also harvest a crop in Autumn. The teas made of the autumn leaves are often not as delicate and refreshing, but may suite certain tea production, such as scented teas, or Oolong teas made of mature leaves.

Seasonal consumption of the teas

There is also another aspect of teas being seasonal that is not talked about as much, which is its consumption. Tea consumption in China is very geographical. The art and history of tea making is finely turned to suite the local diets and climate conditions. The non-fermented green teas and lightly fermented white teas are light and refreshing, much favoured in areas where the weather conditions are warm and humid. The more fermented teas such as black and ripened pu-erh teas on the other hand, are more appreciated in cooler areas where heavier diets are consumed. The fermented teas are smoother in texture and known to aid digestion.

If you however have the luxury to have a collection of teas (like we all do these days), soon you will find that different teas have different best uses: summer teas vs winter teas, morning tea vs afternoon teas, teas to drink after meals vs teas drink between meals, teas to drink with snacks vs teas to drink on their own and many more combinations and occasions.

One thing to remember, teas are to be enjoyed and premium teas are highly enjoyable.

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