Green Tea Extract Benefits to Gut Health and Improving Metabolic Syndrome

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The benefits of green tea are prevalently known, and a recent study contributes to its advantages by suggesting that consuming green tea extract can also help improve gut health. According to research in Current Developments in Nutrition, green tea extract improves gut health by reducing inflammation and small intestine permeability in healthy individuals and those at risk for cardiometabolic disease.

The researchers stated that this is the first study examining the health risks associated with the condition known as metabolic syndrome, which affects about one-third of Americans and may be reduced through green tea’s anti-inflammatory benefits in the gut. To determine whether their claims regarding the anti-inflammatory properties of catechin-rich green tea extract are true, the researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study.

They included 40 participants, 21 adults with metabolic syndrome and 19 healthy adults — who received placebo or green tea extract confections (890 mg/d catechins) during two, 4-week interventions, with 1 month off supplements between treatments. The daily dose of gummies was equivalent to five cups of green tea, according to the release. In this article, we will highlight some of its important findings.

Introduction: Supplements for Managing Metabolic Syndrome 

The research team from Ohio State University conducted the clinical trial in 40 individuals as a follow-up to a 2019 study that linked lower obesity and reduced health risks in mice that consumed green tea supplements with improvements to gut health.

By examining the effects of green tea extract in people with a cluster of heart disease risk factors, they discovered that consuming it for four weeks can reduce blood sugar levels and improve gut health by lowering inflammation and decreasing ‘leaky gut.’

According to the senior study author and professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University – Bruno, this finding suggests that lower blood glucose in people with metabolic syndrome and healthy people seems to be related to reducing leaky gut and gut inflammation.

Green Tea Benefits in Reducing Risks of Obesity and High Blood Pressure

People with metabolic syndrome are commonly diagnosed with at least three of five factors that increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems, including;

  • excess belly fat,
  • high blood pressure,
  • low HDL (good) cholesterol, 
  • high levels of fasting blood glucose,
  • and triglycerides

What makes these risk factors difficult is that although health risks brought by the metabolic syndrome are significant, the symptoms are often only slightly altered and do not yet require drug management, according to Bruno.

He also stated that weight loss and exercise are most physicians’ common initial recommendations to address the syndromes. However, many people cannot comply with lifestyle modifications for different reasons. Hence, their research team aimed to give people a new food-based tool to help manage their risk for metabolic syndrome or to reverse metabolic syndrome through the help of green tea extracts.

Five Cups of Green Tea in a Supplement

Forty participants, composed of 21 with metabolic syndrome and 19 healthy adults, consumed gummy supplements containing green tea extract that is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds called catechins within 28 days. The daily dose of the said gummy supplements equates to five cups of green tea. All participants spent 28 more days as well taking a placebo, with a month off of any supplement between the treatments.

Participants were also instructed to follow a diet low in polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant in fruits, vegetables, teas, and spices – during the study’s placebo and green tea extract confection phases, so any results could be attributed to the effects of green tea alone.

The study’s results demonstrate that;

  • Participants had significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels after taking green tea extract compared to levels after taking the placebo.
  • All participants have decreased gut inflammation due to the green tea treatment.
  • The participants’ small intestine permeability favorably decreased with green tea.

It is said that gut permeability, or leaky gut, allows intestinal bacteria and related toxic compounds to enter the bloodstream, stimulating low-grade chronic inflammation. According to Bruno, this absorption of gut-derived products is thought to be an initiating factor for obesity and insulin resistance, which are central to all cardiometabolic disorders. Hence, improving the gut integrity and reducing leaky gut can potentially help in low-grade inflammation that initiates cardiometabolic disorders and even reverse them. 

The researchers further stated that they did not attempt to cure metabolic syndrome with a one-month study. But based on the insights they gathered about the factors behind metabolic syndrome, green tea can potentially contribute to helping to mitigate the risk of developing or reversing metabolic syndrome. 

Journal Reference

Hodges, J., Zeng, M., Cao, S., Pokala, A., Rezaei, S., Sasaki, G., Vodovotz, Y., & Bruno, R. (2022). Catechin-rich green tea extract reduced intestinal inflammation and fasting glucose in metabolic syndrome and healthy adults: A randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Current Developments in Nutrition, 6(Supplement_1), 981–981. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac068.010

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