Green tea has been a hot topic in the diet and fitness world for some time. Today, we’ll take a closer look and see if this age old favorite is truly an immune system secret weapon or if some people should avoid it.
In addition to being tasty, green tea is also full of anti-oxidants and packed full of phytonutrients. With many health benefits, drinking green tea is an easy way to keep your body refreshed and healthy and with a low dose of caffeine, it can wake you up a bit without overstimulation. Green tea is also known to be packed full of antioxidants to help bulletproof your immune system making it an easy method to give your body something good. Plus, green tea is easy on taste, unlike some other healthy foods that take some discipline to acquire a taste for.
Green Tea Basics
But can green tea side effects outweigh the good? Are there side effects? A lot of people are raising this question, and some even wonder, is green tea bad for you?
There isn’t an easy way to answer this question. But one of the simplest ways is saying that green tea might not be good for everyone. And the side effects of green tea may be a deal breaker for some.
Recently, a group has emerged with startling theories and conclusions about green tea. They’re focused on potential hazards that come with consuming green tea. Yes, you read that right. Green tea, of all of the teas, might possibly have some negative side effects. Today we’ll explore these claims.
But first, let’s focus on the positives. The benefits of green tea can be great and make a huge difference in many people’s lives. Green tea comes with a plethora of research not to mention over a thousand years of history behind it, promoting its wonderful, seemingly endless benefits. These range from green tea acting as an anti- inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant.
These are significant benefits, not to mention the fact that it can really help strengthen the immune system. And, as you know, the immune system is the north star of your body’s health.
Green Tea and the Immune System
Let’s take a look at the immune system, with its first line of defense, the white blood cells. These cells divide into five various types of immune cells, one of which is called lymphocytes.
Then, lymphocytes are broken down into B and T cells, which then go into subset T helper cells, T regulatory cells, T-suppressor cells and cytotoxic T cells. Lots of T’s here but stick with us, it’s all critical to your health.
Your immune system attacks any type of bacteria that manages to get through your skin. The immediate defense line of our immune system is called a macrophage. If you need a visual effect, imagine the game Pacman, where Pacman goes around and eats all the little dots. It’s pretty much just like that – they serve as your own personal bodyguards. Their job is to at least slow the invader down, so they can get the bigger guys to help them out. While they can sometimes beat the invader out themselves if they’re strong enough, they really count on the bigger bouncers to help them out.
These bigger players in your immune system are the T-helper cells. They sound the alarm throughout the whole immune system. How do they do this? By sending out a set of chemical signals that occur when an invader has crossed the line.
The T-helper cells call on their friend’s cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. These are the elite immune system soldiers. It doesn’t get any higher than this and they live up to their reputation. They attack and destroy bacterial invaders, getting rid of any and all threats that come along with them.
When the bacteria have been killed, it does take time for the immune system to relax and come back from the fight. The T-suppressor cells help here to get the system back to normal.
If the bacteria are even too powerful for the T-cells, B cells are called in for reinforcements. They help in the fight by producing antibodies for the invader through the instructions of the T-helper cells.
Basically, the T-helper cells communicates with the immune system identifying the threat, so B-cells create antibodies based on this description. Why? So that when they encounter the bacteria, they can call on the cytotoxic T cells and the natural killer cells to find and destroy the invader.
Pretty awesome, huh? This whole battle is going on in your body almost every single day. Go ahead, give your body a big “thank you.” It’s doing a great job protecting you.
When the T-cells first respond, it’s called Th1 response. And when the B-cell antibodies respond, it’s called the Th2 response.
You’ll find an even balance between Th1 and Th2 in an overall healthy body. So obviously, you want to have that. A good balance = a good body. Got it?
But when you have an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks its own tissues. And usually, it’ll have a Th1 or Th2 supremacy. The more out of whack a system is, the more the immune system will attack itself. And the more you’re going to suffer because of it.
When Healthy Foods Aren’t Healthy
With many studies and research being conducted, there are a few reasons why there can be an imbalance between Th1 and Th2. And the effects of green tea might be one of them. Green tea has a few active components that have the potential to push the Th2 into the role of being the dominant immune response. How does it do this? By restraining the Th1.
So what does this mean? Does this answer the question, “Is tea bad for you?” Not just yet. We’ll keep going.
Let’s say someone has an autoimmune disease or condition that makes the Th2 more dominant. This person needs to steer clear of green tea or any products that have green tea in them, including green tea supplements. Because their system is already Th2 dominant, consuming green tea or green tea products can cause more problems. It makes this dominance stronger, as well as the negative complications that come along with it.
On the other side of the equation, it works the same for someone with a Th1-dominance.
Now you might be asking, “Well, is tea good for you at all?”
We aren’t knocking tea or picking teams here. But there are some facts that everyone should know about green tea.
Think about when you get sick with a cold or worse, the flu. The herb Echinacea has been known to help give the T-cells a boost in attacking the invading virus and getting you on the road to recovery.
But, if that person has a Th1-dominant system, consuming Echinacea will probably only make the condition worse.
Many people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which is considered to be an autoimmune condition. This is where the immune system attacks its own cartilage. The more out of balance their Th1 and Th2 system is, the more cartilage will be destroyed because of it.
It’s safe to say that the balance of this delicate system is imperative to your overall health and wellness.
What This Means for You and Green Tea
Some people have autoimmune conditions and don’t even know it.
Take, for example, those that suffer with hypothyroidism. This is the condition where symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, and depression plague the victim.
Well, what goes hand in hand with this? Hashimoto’s syndrome, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition. And in some patients, it goes completely untraced.
So if a patient suffering from hypothyroidism takes an antioxidant capsule, thinking they’re doing what’s good for their body, they are likely to have negative effects. This could range from anxiety to insomnia to heart complications.
In fact, after taking the antioxidant, there could be an increased likelihood of a thyroid gland attack. So this means extra thyroid hormones are released into the system and begin what is generally classified as hyperthyroid symptoms.
Break down the ingredients of an antioxidant. Odds are, it contains green tea extract (HIT) and curcumin. Both of these ingredients have been linked to pushing the immune system into a Th2 dominance. And that patient would then suffer from an unbalanced immune system.
So when you add in an antioxidant to an already imbalanced system, it can actually mess things up even more. The green tea and curcumin in the supplement will send signals to attack the thyroid gland even more.
This could be a really big problem, especially if people don’t know they suffer form an imbalance Th1 and Th2 system.
Green Tea Consensus
We know your head might be spinning with some pretty long and complicated medical terms. It’s OK, let’s take a minute to catch up. Okay, here we go.
Now, a lot of people are quick to believe in super foods, foods that are above all else and good for everyone. Let’s face it – every body is different and there is no single perfect diet or food for everyone.
Everyone has his or her own body chemistry. This means their genetic makeup and biochemical needs are different. What that also means – and perhaps this is one of the most important points to make – is that everyone could and will have a different response to various types of foods.
There are so many different elements to factor into that equation. A healthy, young runner might not have the same reaction to a certain food as an elderly woman. It’s going to affect everyone differently. So it’s oversimplifying to expect foods to be dubbed “good” or “bad” across the board and assume that’s how it works for everyone.
While everyone needs to be cautious about putting things into their bodies, especially green tea and green tea supplements, those who should be particularly careful are people that suffer from an autoimmune condition or disease. If you have a normally functioning immune system, this anti-oxidant rich natural beverage can in fact be a very potent aid in bullet proofing your health.
If you’re feeling curious about your immune system, go visit your doctor. There’s a lymphocyte panel testing that can help you uncover where your immune system dominance lies. And then you can make the decisions for yourself based on this information on whether green tea is good for YOU.
Plus, you could work on getting your system back to an even balance.
But of course, like any major changes to your lifestyle, training or diet, talking to your doctor first or another medical professional is always recommended. They know best and are able to help you read the signals your body is giving off.
So what’s the verdict for those without an autoimmune condition or disease? Is green tea safe for them to consume? Signs point to a resounding yes. If you do go with green tea I suggest going with well known respected brands like Hyson 2 U.
With its extremely long history and solid evidence of its various health benefits, everyone without an autoimmune condition could benefit from drinking green tea.
Also, those with Th1 dominance disorders, like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis, could possibly benefit from green tea. Th1 systems tend to be positively stimulated by compounds like mushrooms, panax ginseng, and grape seed extract.
Those that suffer from a Th2 dominance system, such as those with allergies, asthma and several types of cancers, are likely not to benefit from green tea.
We know that the world of health and wellness can be confusing and leave you with your head spinning sometimes. Remember, your doctor is always willing to answer any questions or concerns you might have and Gym Junkies is here to help keep you informed and healthy.
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