Green tea extract intake for four weeks linked to lower blood sugar levels and improved gut health

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A new study on heart disease risk factors found that green tea extract consumed for four weeks could reduce blood sugar and improve gut health, by reducing inflammation and decreasing the “leaky stomach.”

Researchers say this is the first research to assess whether green tea’s antiinflammatory benefits may reduce the health risks associated with metabolic syndrome. This condition affects approximately one third of Americans.

Richard Bruno, professor of human nutrition and senior study author at The Ohio State University, said that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that green tea consumption is linked with lower levels of triglycerides and glucose. However, no studies have directly connected its gut benefits to these health factors.

The clinical trial was conducted in 40 people as a result of a study in 2019 that showed that mice who consumed green tea supplements had lower obesity rates and less health risks. This led to improvements in gut health.

The new study found that green tea extract reduced blood sugar or glucose and gut inflammation as well as permeability. This was an unexpected result.

Bruno explained that the results showed that lowering blood glucose within a month was possible for both those with metabolic syndrome as well as healthy people. The lowering of blood sugar appeared to be linked to decreasing gut inflammation and decreasing leaky gut, regardless of their health status.

Recent articles on the effects of glucose and gut permeability, as well as inflammation, were published in Current Developments in Nutrition.

The metabolic syndrome is characterized by at least three out of five risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other health issues. These include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Bruno explained that the metabolic syndrome risk factors are not always severe and may only require a small amount of medication. However, they still pose a serious health risk.

Most doctors will recommend that you lose weight and start exercising. “Unfortunately, we know that most people are unable to adhere to lifestyle changes for a variety of reasons,” said he. “Our research aims to provide people with a new food tool that can help them manage their risk of metabolic syndrome or reverse metabolic syndrome.

For 28 days, forty participants – 21 with metabolic syndrome and nineteen healthy adults – consumed green tea extract rich is anti-inflammatory compounds known as catechins in gummy sweets. Five cups of green tea were consumed daily. All participants in the randomized, double-blind, crossover study took a placebo for 28 days, followed by a month of no supplementation.

Researchers confirmed that the participants followed the diet advice given to them, which was low in polyphenols – naturally occurring antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and teas.

The results showed that the fasting blood sugar levels of all participants were significantly reduced after taking green-tea extract, compared to those after taking a placebo. An analysis of fecal samples showed that the green tea treatment reduced gut inflammation in all participants. Researchers found that the permeability of small intestines was also reduced when using a technique for assessing sugar ratios in samples of urine.

Gut permeability or leaky gut allows intestinal bacteria and toxic compounds to enter into the bloodstream. This causes low-grade chronic inflammation.

Bruno explained that the absorption of gut products was thought to be a factor in obesity and insulin resistance. These are at the core of all cardiometabolic diseases. If we can improve the integrity of our gut and reduce leaky bowel, we may be able not only to alleviate low-grade chronic inflammation that is associated with cardiometabolic diseases but also reverse them.

He said: “We didn’t try to cure metabolic syndrome in a month-long study.” According to what we understand about the causes of metabolic syndrome, green tea may act at least partially at the gut to reduce the risk to either develop it or reverse it if someone already has metabolic syndrome.

Bruno’s laboratory is currently completing further analysis of the microbial community in the guts and blood of participants in this study.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, at Ohio State University, supported this work.

Min Zeng, Geoffrey Sasaki and Sisi Cao are among the co-authors on both papers. Yael Vodovotz and Joanna Hodges also contributed to these two papers. Avinash Pokala, Shahabeddin Resaei and others also contributed to the paper on glucose.

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