For the last several years, there has been an abundance of research on the effects of green tea and the many health benefits that it can offer. For centuries, Asians have used green tea for health, both to prevent disease and treat illnesses.
Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. There are many different types of tea, but they all come from this plant. The differences occur from the differences in how the tea is processed. Green tea is not fermented during processing, but black tea does go through a fermentation process.
Tea leaves naturally contain anti-oxidants. Fermenting the tea leaves, converts the catechins to other compounds. These new compounds are not as healthy as the unaltered catechins in a tea leaf in its original state. For this reason, green tea has more healthy anti-oxidants and therefore more health benefits than black tea.
Anti-oxidants are critical to our health because they combat free radicals. Each day, as we convert food to energy, we create these free radicals in our body, which damage our cells and our DNA. Over time, these unchecked free radicals cause disease and aging.
For this reason, large doses of anti-oxidants, particularly those like the ones found in green tea, have been found to prevent many types of disease, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and potentially other diseases, as well. Fruits and vegetables are also great anti-oxidant sources.
But, recently there has been powerful news about the possible effects of green tea on gastrointestinal problems, like inflammatory bowel disease. One study reported by the UK Tea Council found that green tea's anti-oxidants spend a lot of time in the intestinal tract, and have an anti-inflammatory effect on this part of the body. For this reason, green tea seems to calm the inflammation that accompanies inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal problems.
This theory stands to reason, since green tea is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect all over the body. These powerful anti-inflammatory effects are also thought to be one of the reasons that green tea is effective at preventing and treating heart disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become inflamed (red and swollen). The inflammation often lasts a long time and comes back repeatedly. Over 600,000 Americans suffer from some sort of inflammatory bowel disease every year.
Inflammatory bowel diseases can cause cramping, pain, diarrhea, weight loss and bleeding in your intestines. Two of the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease are Chron's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Crohn's disease causes ulcers along the small and large intestines. However, it can sometimes also cause inflammation around the rectum, too. Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers in the lower part of the large intestine, sometimes starting at the rectum.
We don't fully understand what causes inflammatory bowel diseases, though we do know that it runs in families. It may be caused by a germ or problem with your immune system. It is usually diagnosed through x-rays and other tests that look directly into your intestines to find evidence of damage.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are not life threatening, but they can be very painful and disruptive to your life. In most cases, they are treated with anti-inflammatory medications, and sometimes anti-biotics, if the particular problem seems to be caused by an infection. In extreme cases of ulcerative colitis, surgery is sometimes performed to remove part of the colon. Surgery doesn't seem to have any effect on Crohn's disease.
Because the typical treatment is designed to reduce the inflammation in the intestines, it stands to reason that green tea would hold much promise in treatment. It is likely that many inflammatory bowel disease patients could find some relief very quickly by incorporating green tea into their diets.
Because sufferers of inflammatory bowel diseases are often placed on diets that call for reduced amounts of fiber, they often don't eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can further irritate the bowels. This means that they may not be getting all the anti-oxidants they need, particularly since they may need more than the average person to reduce the inflammation in their systems. This makes green tea the perfect alternative; it provides powerful anti-oxidants with zero fiber.
If you suffer from any form of irritable bowel disease, it's a good idea to give green tea a try. It has no side effects and is well tolerated by most people, regardless of their health issues. While it does contain caffeine, it is usually well tolerated even by the caffeine sensitive, because its caffeine level is very low. Adding some green tea to your diet may be a simple way to get some relief from the painful symptoms of irritable bowel diseases.