With so many sports drinks and energy drinks saturating the market today, it becomes quite difficult for someone to choose the best one. Athletes are known to chug Gatorade, Powerade, Xenergy, Monster, Red Bull, and the list goes on. Sure, they provide a great boost of energy for performance, but it comes at a price; consuming boatloads of sugar and other non-healthy chemicals. However, there is one drink in particular that has been overlooked by athletes, and that is green tea.
Green tea leaves (along with all other tea leaves) come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The Chinese have been drinking it for over 4000 years; casually and medicinally. The benefits of green tea are so vast, yet science is always realizing new and amazing discoveries about it. The following is a list of benefits that come as a result of drinking green tea regularly:
Contrary to popular belief, not all cholesterol is bad. There are two main types: High Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol), and Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol). Drinking green tea actually improves the HDL to LDL ratio in your body.
Green tea leaves are loaded with polyphenols (antioxidants); the major ones being EGCG. Polyphenols have shown to help with the following:
• Boost immune system
• Evidence of anti-cancer properties (in part due to vitamin E)
• Heart health
• Slowing the body’s aging process, keeping you healthier longer
According to Dr. Barry Sears, a former research scientist at M.I.T. and the Boston University School of Medicine, polyphenols help to increase production of an enzyme called ATP, a chemical energy. Essentially, you are increasing production of a natural performance enhancement inside your body; sweet deal for athletes!
By helping to remove toxins from your body, you are taking preventative measures to remain healthy in the future.
Drinking green tea will increase one’s metabolism, which can help shed some extra pounds. If you drink tea with caffeine you will have more energy, thus becoming more active with the ability to lose more weight.
Studies have shown that antioxidants in green tea have the ability to block seasonal allergic reactions such as sneezing, watery/itchy eyes, and itchy throat. This is a fantastic alternative to the pharmaceutically saturated market.
Benefits for Athletes
All of the above benefits are especially good for athletes since they rely on their bodies for their hobbies and careers. An athlete’s body maintains its’ condition based on the level of physical training it endures, the type of food that nourishes it, and the type (and amount) of fluids it intakes. Naturally, water will be a very important fluid to consume in order to stay hydrated and to help flush toxins. However, too many athletes rely on energy drinks and sports drinks to give them that needed boost come performance time, and therein lays the problem. All of these energy/sports drinks are chock-full of sugar, which will spike your sugar levels for a period of time; excellent for performance. But after the effects wear off, your sugar levels come crashing back down, making the athlete feel sluggish. Tea (specifically green or white) will give you a natural energy boost without a big crash; not as big of a boost as sports drinks, but enough to get the job done!
New Research Findings
In a study done by Dr. Stephane Bastianetto, at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (McGill University in Montreal), has discovered that a certain level of extraction of EGCG may aid in preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well as dementia.
As a point of intrigue, studies have shown that green tea polyphenols may help prevent certain cancers, as well as kill cancerous cells in the body. In a study done by the World Cancer Research Fund, Japan places at number 51 on the list of world cancer rates (the lowest rate was in Singapore, and they placed at number 59 on the list). This, of course, is also linked to the fact that Japan’s obesity rate is one of the lowest in the world with only 3.2% of the population being obese. As well, Japan has only a moderate amount of alcohol consumption. These key areas, along with level of activity, all contribute to the possibility of one developing cancer.
From the information presented above, it is clear to see why athletes who train hard, eat right, and drink plenty of tea and water should live a long and healthy life (barring any unforeseen events of course).
Words by Jay Hershorn
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