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Green tea cuts obesity in miceFollow
Follow-up study in people underway

Green tea cuts obesity and a number of inflammatory biomarkers linked with poor health in a new study by The Ohio State University.

Mice fed a diet of two per cent green tea extract fared far better than those that ate a diet without it, a finding that has prompted an upcoming study of green tea’s potential benefits in people at high risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The benefits published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, appear to stem from improved gut health, including more beneficial microbes in the intestines of the mice and less permeability in the intestinal wall – a condition typically called “leaky gut” in people.

Negative changes in the gut microbiome have been previously linked to obesity, and green tea has been shown to promote healthy bacteria. The team wanted to explore whether there was an argument for green tea preventing obesity, inflammation and other factors connected to poor metabolic health.

Green tea has a rich history in Asian countries and has been increasingly embraced in the West, in part for its potential health benefits. Catechins, anti-inflammatory polyphenols found in green tea, have been linked to anti-cancer activity and lower risk of heart and liver disease.

Some studies on green tea have also supported its use in weight loss, but many studies have also shown no effect, likely due to the complexity of the diet relative to a number of lifestyle factors. So, the team wants to figure out how green tea prevents weight gain, understanding this will lead to better health recommendations.

The team fed mice with a high-fat diet supplemented with green tea for eight weeks, and they gained about 20 per cent less weight and had lower insulin resistance than mice fed an otherwise identical diet without tea.

Those mice also had less inflammation within fat tissue and the intestine. Furthermore, the green tea appeared to protect against the movement of endotoxin, the toxic bacterial component, out of their guts and into the bloodstream.

The researchers also found evidence of stronger – less “leaky” – guts in these mice. Leaky gut is a problem in humans that contributes to widespread low-grade inflammation and has been implicated in a number of health problems.

Green tea consumption in the experiment would be equivalent to about 10 cups of green tea for a person.

Future research will determine whether drinking green tea might be a good strategy for those looking to reduce their chances of becoming obese. As of now, it is too soon to extrapolate the findings in animals to people.

The study was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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