Green tea improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes
Population studies suggest that green tea consumption may help prevent type 2 diabetes. A number of animal studies are beginning to explain why. New studies suggest that green tea may improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in individuals with diabetes. In one study, after receiving green tea for 12 weeks, diabetic rats had lower fasting blood levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides and free fatty acids compared to controls, and the ability of their adiopcytes (fat cells) to respond to insulin and absorb blood sugar greatly increased.
In another study by the same research group, diabetic rats were separated into three groups and followed for 12 weeks. One group was given with standard rat chow and water (the control group), the second group received a high fructose diet and water (fructose group), and the third group got the same high fructose diet and green tea (green tea group). By the end of the study, the fructose group had high blood sugar, high insulin levels, and high blood pressure, while the animals receiving green tea along with a high fructose diet showed improvement in all three.
A study published in the August 2004 issue of BMC Pharmacology, in which oral glucose tolerance tests were given to healthy humans after they consumed green tea, showed that it increased the body’s ability to utilize blood sugar.
Another interesting animal study compared the effects of a Western diet, a vegetarian diet and a Japanese diet, each with or without green tea. Blood sugar concentrations were highest in the animals on the Western diet followed by the Vegetarian diet with the Japanese diet producing the lowest blood sugars. When supplemented with green tea, blood sugar levels dropped in rats on all three diets, with those on the Japanese diet having not only the lowest blood sugars but also rating the best on other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Rats on the Japanese diet that also were given green tea had the lowest triglycerides and cholesterol as well as the highest ratio of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids to potentially inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. The researchers concluded that Japanese eating habits combined with drinking green tea might help prevent type 2 diabetes.
One of the mechanisms through which green tea improves insulin sensitivity has recently been identified in laboratory studies that show that epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) does a good deal more to prevent type 2 diabetes than lower the production of free radicals. EGCG also works on the genetic level, causing a reduction in the number of messenger RNAs that direct liver cells to produce the enzymes involved in the creation of glucose (sugar).
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