Green tea is a much-loved ancient remedy dating back to the early days of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You’ve probably heard about its disease-fighting antioxidants, which can slow brain aging, prevent heart disease and even ward off cancer. But does green tea help with bloating? Research find that it does — in a roundabout way. Scientists have discovered that the brew can help heal a leaky gut, a condition tied to a number of gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloat. Read on to learn about the findings — and how you can experience the slimming perks!
Green tea heals a leaky gut
In an animal study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that beneficial compounds in green tea called polyphenols help heal leaky gut, a condition that occurs when things like artificial sweeteners and processed foods cause the lining of the digestive tract to grow inflamed, which leads to bloat — and also opens small gaps between the cells lining the gut. This gap allows toxins, bacteria and food particles to pass into the bloodstream, where they trigger all-body inflammation and often additional bloat. In other words, when the gut lining becomes inflamed, you end up feeling bloated and it can lead to leaky gut, which triggers more inflammation and bloating. So it can be a double whammy.
“You can think of the gut barrier as a semi-permeable membrane, similar to a coffee filter,” explains GutSMART Protocol author Vincent Pedre, MD. When the coffee filter is intact, it keeps the ground coffee out of your brew. But poke a few holes in the filter, and your cup will be full of grounds. “That’s what the gut lining looks like when we have a leaky gut,” says Dr. Pedre, “and that allows for things that shouldn’t get through, like inflammatory compounds, to get through.” The result? Symptoms that range from skin rashes and headaches to joint aches, insulin resistance and of course bloating, explains Dr. Pedre.
In the study referenced above, researchers fed one group of mice a high-fat diet, while a control group ate a typical diet. The scientists also gave half of the mice on each diet green tea extract; the others consumed food without the extract. At the end of the eight-week study, both groups of mice receiving the green tea extract had a healthier array of bacteria present in their guts — even the ones fed the high fat diet. They also had a stronger gut barrier, or less leaky guts, than mice that did not receive green tea extract. Lead study author Richard Bruno, PhD, RD, explains that green tea “prevented the absorption of pro-inflammatory compounds derived from bacteria called endotoxins.” These toxins induce inflammation that can cause leaky gut, which can lead to symptoms like bloat, plus others like weight gain, painful digestion and tiredness.
More slimming benefits of green tea
This new study adds to a host of other research finding that green tea helps speed weight loss. Here’s how.
Green tea stabilizes blood sugar
In another study conducted by Dr. Bruno and his colleagues, green tea extract significantly lowered blood sugar in humans. Similar changes were observed in the animal study, where the mice experienced improved insulin sensitivity after consuming the green tea extract. That’s key because the body stores excess glucose as belly fat when it can’t use it for energy.
Green tea prevents weight gain
The mice on a high-fat diet that were given green tea extract gained 20% less weight than mice on the same diet without green tea. Credit goes to catechins in the tea that speed metabolism, according to researchers from Tufts University. In their study, participants who drank the equivalent of 4 cups of green tea daily and exercised lost twice as much weight as those who exercised alone. (Click through to discover how a green tea weight loss recipe is fueling huge weight loss in women over 50.)
Green tea makes exercise more effective
In an animal study conducted at Penn State, researchers found that mice on a high-fat diet that consumed decaffeinated green tea extract and exercised regularly reduced belly fat by 37% and slashed their BMI by 27%. “Our findings suggest that green tea in the absence of caffeine can enhance the effects of exercise,” says study author Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, professor of Food Science. “The mice that exercised and had decaffeinated green tea extract had a more significant change in body weight, and they had better outcomes as far as lower blood glucose and lower plasma insulin levels. It looks like a combination of exercise and decaffeinated green tea enhances the body’s ability to use energy that is taken in.”
(Click through to discover how drinking green tea every day could help you live longer.)
The daily dose of green tea to help with bloat
To get the benefits seen in the study, Dr. Bruno recommends sipping 5 to 10 cups of green tea daily. That may seem like a lot, but you can count that tea toward your daily water requirement, as research suggests tea is a good source of hydration. Caffeinated green tea tends to have slightly more antioxidants than decaf versions, Dr. Bruno notes. While you may not want 10 cups of caffeinated green tea daily, consider two or three daily mugs, then switch to decaf. (Click through to learn other benefits of green tea, plus green tea drink recipes.)
In Dr. Bruno’s study, the mice were given a green tea extract. And even though these extracts are available for humans, Dr. Bruno advises opting for brewed green tea instead of the extracts to ease bloat. Why? “The green tea extract was mixed into their diet, so the mice were essentially nibbling at it all day,” he explains. When we take a green tea supplement, we get one large dose of the healthful compounds, and our bodies are not great at absorbing all these healthful compounds at once. But sipping on green tea throughout the day allows the body to absorb the maximum amount of healthy compounds for the greatest benefits.
When shopping for green teas, experts advise choosing quality, organic products to maximize health benefits. One we like: TAZO Regenerative Organic Zen Green Tea (Buy on Amazon, $26.50 for 144 tea bags).
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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.