I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease seven years ago. As you can imagine, I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of plumbing issues: stomach pain, bloating, constipation, urgency, you name it. So it should come as no surprise that I’m the first in line to try any natural remedy that promises gut health. I’ve learned the hard way that listening to your gut is more than just tapping into your intuition. When my stomach balloons, I get an eczema flare-up, or I’m on an emotional rollercoaster, I go straight to the source—my gut. If your overall health and well-being were a movie, your gut would be the leading lady.
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When I got word that consuming green tea extract is the new holy grail to keep your gut health in check, I had to get to the bottom of it. I asked Dr. Erin Hendriks, board-certified physician and functional medicine practitioner at Salvo Health, to weigh in on the latest gut health trend. She helped break down what it is, its benefits, and how we can get in on it. Whether you’re looking to heal symptoms or keep your gut happy, read on as we spill the tea (literally).
Why take green tea extract as a supplement?
According to a new study by the Current Developments in Nutrition, consuming one gram of green tea extract daily is proven to reduce blood sugar levels and gut inflammation. Richard Bruno, the author of the study and Professor of Human Nutrition at The Ohio State University, explained the findings of the clinical trial. “What this tells us is that within one month, we’re able to lower blood glucose in both people with metabolic syndrome and healthy people, and the lowering of blood glucose appears to be related to decreasing leaky gut and decreasing gut inflammation–regardless of health status,” Bruno explained.
But why take green tea extract and not pour yourself a cup of green tea? “Green tea extract likely became popular due to the ease of ingesting higher doses of polyphenols without having to drink so much liquid,” answered Dr. Hendriks. “A typical green tea extract supplement contains about 200mg of the polyphenol EGCG whereas a cup of tea only contains about 50-100mg.”
How does green tea extract improve gut health?
There are wellness trends, and then there’s green tea. Green tea dates back to 206 B.C., when it was used primarily as medicine. “Green tea has been hailed for its health-promoting properties for centuries,” Dr. Hendriks shared. “The compounds [polyphenols] in green tea can lower inflammation, improve cognition, and are potent antioxidants.”
While I’m a sucker for new gut health trends, I take them with a grain of salt until I do my homework. Call me a nerd, but I like to know what goes on behind the scenes. Green tea extract truly seems to live up to the hype. “Green tea polyphenols specifically promote the growth of butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut,” Dr. Hendriks explained. “Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid well known for its potent anti-inflammatory activity and key role in maintaining the intestinal barrier and mucosal immunity. Green tea also contains a specific type of polyphenol called epigallocatechin, or EGCG for short, which has been shown to offer protection against several cancers, including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.”
How can I incorporate green tea extract into my wellness routine?
Determining what supplement form to take based on your individual needs can be overwhelming. To choose the best option for you, consult your doctor and know what your options are. “Green tea extract comes in a capsule that can be taken orally as a supplement,” stated Dr. Hendriks. “There are also beverages that contain green tea extract as an added ingredient. However, while it may seem easier to take a supplement, it is almost always better to get your nutrients from natural food sources. If you want to add green tea benefits to your wellness routine, I recommend drinking 2-3 cups of green tea a day rather than taking a pill.”
Dr. Hendriks expressed that any foods high in polyphenols can provide similar benefits to green tea. So on your next grocery run, load up on foods like artichokes, blueberries, hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and star anise. However, Dr. Hendriks also warned, “Certain products containing green tea extract may come with a hefty dose of caffeine, which can leave you feeling jittery or trigger gastrointestinal symptoms.” In other words, talk to your doctor, find the right plan for you, and always go with your gut.
Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.