Can You Drink Your Way to Joint Health With Green Tea? Here's How
7 minute read
Whether you are currently suffering from a joint condition, like rheumatoid arthritis, or you want to protect yourself from joint complications in the future, green tea may be your answer.
Green tea is made from tea leaves and delivers a powerful punch of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Controlling joint inflammation helps greatly with all symptoms of arthritis, and controlling it naturally through what you eat and drink is safer for the rest of your body than relying on medications.
What Is Inflammation?
Arthritis and inflammation go hand-in-hand. When the body detects an infection or foreign bacteria and viruses, the white blood cells go on alert and send immune proteins to help protect us. This causes the inflammation of a particular area; the body is hard at work fighting what it sees as a danger in that region.
When you have inflammation in your joints, you can expect to have some or several of the following symptoms:
♦ Joint swelling
♦ Joint pain
♦ Joint stiffness
♦ Loss of joint function
Less frequently, the following symptoms may be associated with an episode of inflammation. Since they’re systemic, though, they’re more difficult to pinpoint to a particular episode of inflammation.
♦ Fatigue or loss of energy
♦ Loss of appetite
♦ General muscle stiffness
When inflammation occurs, there is an increase of blood flow and white blood cells in that region. This causes irritation, which can lead to pain and stiffness, but it also can cause long-term damage by wearing down the cartilage and causing swelling of the lining of your joints.
When Inflammation Causes Arthritis
The problem is some people have immune systems that respond with inflammation when there are no substances to ward off. These autoimmune diseases cause inflammation and an “attacking” response in the white blood cells, but because there is no real “bad guy” to fight, the white blood cells end up attacking normal, healthy tissue.
When an autoimmune disease is present, it’s not just the joints that are affected—any part of the body can be the target. It’s also important to note that not all forms of arthritis come from inflammation. But the following types of arthritis are known to be directly connected to inflammation issues.
♦ Psoriatic arthritis
♦ Gouty arthritis
♦ Systemic lupus erythematosus
Green Tea and Inflammation
The active polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). According to the Arthritis Foundation, this particular antioxidant has been shown to be as much as 100 times stronger than vitamins C and E.
Studies have also suggested that EGCG may be effective in arthritis treatment to inhibit the production of the arthritic enzymes that cause degradation of joints.
Getting even more specific, the University of Michigan looked at green tea and rheumatoid arthritis and found strong potential for therapeutic benefits to sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
Again, it was the EGCG that proved to be the star of the study, inhibiting several molecules that contribute to joint damage. In addition, EGCG also suppressed the inflammatory products in connective tissues.
How to Drink Green Tea
If you do a little more research on green tea, you’ll find that in addition to being a great antioxidant, it can help burn fat, prevent bad breath, promote heart health, and could have some anti-aging properties.
When you hear all of that, your instinct is to have lots of green tea every day. But there are some “rules” about drinking green tea that help you make the most of it and protect your body from some bad side effects.
A couple of cups: Green tea is full of tannins and flavonoids, which are good for you in small doses, but in excessive amounts, they’re bad for your liver.
Tea and biscuits: Starting your day with green tea instead of coffee might seem logical, but green tea is actually not good on an empty stomach. It can upset your stomach’s balance and damage the liver.
Not before, not after: We just learned we shouldn’t have green tea on an empty stomach, you really shouldn’t have it on a full stomach either. If you just ate a meal, green tea after it can inhibit nutrient absorption. Not only that, the tea dilutes your stomach acid, so your food is not broken down as thoroughly as it needs to be.
Fresh tea bag: Did you know that the caffeine content in a used tea bag is very high? Not only that, but a wet tea bag is a breeding ground for germs. Toss that bag after each use.
Dehydration: Green tea is a diuretic, meaning you’re going to need to urinate more. If you’re not drinking more water to accommodate this need, you risk dehydration.
The Bottom Line
If you have joint health concerns, green tea may be the answer. There are powerful antioxidants, called polyphenols, in green tea that have proven benefits for people with inflammation issues that can lead to arthritis or exacerbate other inflammation issues.
If you decide to add green tea to your treatment program or a joint health supplement, it’s best to discuss this with your healthcare provider. After you’re given the green light, make sure you’re following the rules of drinking green tea for a future with reduced joint discomfort.