Obesity rates continue to increase globally, so researchers continue to find ways to minimize the risk and fight this epidemic. Researchers from Ohio State University found that polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties and may lower the risk of obesity in mice.
The researchers examined how green tea prevent weight gain or obesity. Obesity not only affects a person’s weight, but also other health problems such as diabetes and other metabolic conditions. (Related: Eat more chocolate and drink more green tea: Polyphenols found to help prevent obesity.)
For the study, the researchers looked at the effects of great tea polyphenols and tocotrienols individually or in combination on glucose homeostasis and skeletal muscle metabolism in obese mice with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
Green tea polyphenols primarily consist of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is the most powerful catechins. On the other hand, tocotrienols, which belong to the vitamin E family, are bioactive compounds that fight free radicals and act as anti-diabetic agents. They are naturally found in rice bran, coconut oil, cocoa butter, barley, and wheat germ.
For 14 weeks, the researchers fed mice with a high-fat diet and divided them into four groups: tocotrienol, no tocotrienol, green tea polyphenols, and no green tea polyphenols. The researchers also measured the subjects’ body and fat tissue weight, gut permeability, inflammation in the fat tissue, and the movement of gut metabolites in the bloodstream.
The results showed that mice fed a high-fat diet with green tea had about 20 percent less weight than mice fed with the same diet without green tea. These mice also experienced further health improvements, such as lower insulin resistance and inflammation within the fat tissue and intestine.
Both tocotrienols and green tea polyphenols also increased muscle fiber cross-sectional area. This effect could be used to prevent muscle atrophy or sarcopenia, a condition commonly seen in people with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
“This phenotypic improvement may be partially through attenuation of oxidative stress and increased levels of major rate-limiting mitochondrial enzymes, but with different mechanisms,”? wrote the researchers.
Professor Richard Bruno, the lead author of the study, noted that it is too early to apply their findings to humans, so more studies are needed to prove these beneficial effects of green tea supplementation. He also warned that should the benefits prove true in humans, green tea supplements would not be an option because of how the body metabolizes the catechins in the tea.
“Consuming a little throughout the course of a day with food–like the mice did in this study–might be better,”? he said.
Other studies on the link between green tea and weight loss
Several studies suggest that green tea may aid in weight loss by making the body’s metabolism more efficient. Metabolism involves processes that enable the body to convert food and drink into usable energy.
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that caffeine and catechins found in green tea can speed up metabolism. Catechins are a type of antioxidant that can help break down excess fat. Additionally, a meta-analysis in 2010 published in the International Journal of Obesity found that taking green tea supplements that contain catechins or caffeine promotes weight loss and aids in weight management. A more recent review, which was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that green tea stimulated weight loss in people who were overweight or obese, but the effect was low.
Consuming green tea alone is not enough to fight obesity. You also have to regularly exercise and follow a healthy diet rich in vegetables to help you achieve your weight loss goals.