Stress and anxiety are two conditions that highly affect almost 264 million people around the world as of 2015 and that the Centers for Disease Control estimate that stress contributes to 80 percent of illnesses. Prolonged stress can be related to a number of chronic conditions and diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, as well as anxiety-related diseases, including eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and substance abuse.
There are many ways to reduce stress, especially at this time of so much uncertainties. While in most countries, working out in a gym or running in a park can no longer be done due to lockdowns, either might find watching Netflix and chill stress reducing. Others would instead do workouts at the comfort or their homes like Yoga or other exercises through YouTube, while others may find a spot to sit on while finally having a time to browse through their books bought long time ago but never opened. Others may have learned a new-found skill, such as baking, cooking or painting.
However, one of the easiest ways to fight off stress is to drink beverages that have certain benefits in our bodies. Green tea is no exception. Though tea in general are basically consumed in helping digestion after meals, have you ever wondered why it is also given in spas after a very relaxing massage? It is because green tea is found to have mental-health benefits to the drinker, such as reducing stress. Aside from its favourable taste as to why green tea is a very popular drink nowadays, it promotes numerous health benefits including neuroprotection, cholesterol-lowering properties, strong antioxidant capacity, as well as quality emotional status, quality of sleep and suppression of hypertension, and if one is feeling especially stressed out and anxious on a regular basis, one may find it hard and struggling to lose weight. It also helps in the regulation of cholesterol, aging, reduction in the inflammatory response, and blood pressure. In a 2019 study conducted, consumption of green tea was observed to reduce the activity of toxic metals like cadmium and lead inside the body of mammalian models and protects the drinker from metal stress. Tea polyphenols found in green tea can also increase the level of glutathione, catalase, quinone reductase, and superoxide dismutase, along with inhibiting DNA oxidative damage which ultimately acts as the stress response mechanism.
The main factors for this are the tea catechins or antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which accounts for up to 42 percent of the dry weight of brewed green tea that makes people more calm and nurtures a relaxed and attentive state of mind. Green tea is in fact considered the most predominant source of catechins among all dietary sources, ahead of chocolate, red grapes, wine, and apples. There is also the presence of amino acid L-theanine makes up around 3 percent, which is an amino acid found in green tea leaves that helps you relax and keep stress at bay. In fact, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 126 mg of catechins are present per 100 mL of green tea while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that 71 mg of epigallocatechin gallate will be present in the same amount of green tea.
Also, caffeine, which accounts up to 5 percent of the dry weight of green tea is known to improve one’s mood. Research study shows that drinking five or more cups of green tea on a daily basis may reduce the incidence of psychological distress by up to 20 percent. Drinking green tea lowers levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. When this stress hormone becomes too high and the adrenals, or two walnut-sized organs that sit on top of kidneys that control the body’s hormones and help survive in stressful situations, are constantly stressed, it sets off an autoimmune, inflammatory response in the entire body, leading to weight gain, trouble thinking, sleep deprivation, anxiety or worst, may lead to chronic or cardiovascular diseases.
Also, as researchers found, theanine also helps to reduce anxiety. A cup of green tea is found to help people recover more quickly from a stressful task. Andrew Scholey, a psychopharmacologist in Melbourne, Australia, in 2016, reported that those who consumed 200 milligrams of L-theanine, around the amount found in eight cups of tea, had lower cortisol levels and reported feeling more relaxed after performing stress-inducing tasks.
While green tea is known for reducing stress and lowers the risk of anxiety, paradoxically, it also promotes alertness. Shcoley says that “Tea is calming, but alerting at the same time” due to caffeine that benefits both one’s mood and cognition, and L-theanine that improves memory and reaction time, while relaxing only the areas of the brain that are not needed for a specific task, as hypothesized by Scholey.
On the other hand decaffeinated green tea before bed can calm the drinker and encourage sleep and has been scientifically proven to both decrease stress levels and improve the quality of sleep. In a 2017 study, participants were able to fall asleep much more easily when drinking decaffeinated green tea, and they reported feeling much less stressed out over the course of the one-week experiment.
Drinking green tea does not only reduce stress on a short-term basis but it also lowers the risk of depression and dementia in a long-run too. Studies show that this may be the effect if one would come into habit of drinking at least 100 milliliters (about half a cup) of green tea a day. In a published paper in 2006, consuming green tea reduces the development or the enhancement of oxidative stress and, therefore, protecting the individual for oxidative stress diseases. Green tea drinking is also valuable in several chronic diseases known as oxidative stress conditions, such as the cardiovascular diseases, which are one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity in the world.
So, the next time that you feel gloomy, especially with all the uncertainties happening around the globe, one sure way to reduce your stress and anxiety is to drink a cup of green tea. So, drink your stress away!
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