Back in 2017, while undergoing a lengthy series of blood tests to determine if I had defied odds of 10,000-to-one to develop prostate cancer aged 40, I was told by an enthusiastic urologist that the health benefits of green tea mean that I should be drinking it by the gallon.
Apparently, he said, green tea is like an elixir for men, capable of fending off disease, improving the health of your nether regions and giving you an all round wellbeing boost. At the time, I would have tried anything, so I immediately ditched the Yorkshire Tea and went green. I’ve never gone back.
As a Brit who has enjoyed tea for his entire adult life, giving up regular, everyday builders’ tea with milk, was hard. Not quite in a Trainspotting, baby on the ceiling, cold turkey way, but not far off.
However, when you’re facing a very real challenge to your physical and mental health, your priorities shift. So, I approached my tea transformation with Rocky-like determination, fully committed to doing whatever I could to convince my body to deliver an upper cut to cancer.
But why switch to green tea at all? What is the science behind my urologist’s claims? What are the health benefits of green tea? Was it all an old wives’ tale, or could green tea actually help me stay well?
Thankfully, as well as saving me a fortune on milk, countless reports and studies into green tea have highlighted five key health benefits:
Five reasons to go green
- It boosts your immune system: Green tea is packed full of antioxidants that help to fight off harmful free radicals in your body (to get scientific for a moment – free radicals are molecules in your body that have an unpaired electron in their outer shell, apparently. This makes them highly reactive and unstable. To become stable, free radicals – the magpies of the molecular world – go about stealing electrons from other molecules in your body, causing damage to those molecules). So, the antioxidants in green tea can help fight off the magpie molecules and boost your immune system, keeping you feeling healthy and strong.
- It lowers your risk of heart disease: Studies have shown that men who drink green tea regularly have a lower risk of heart disease. This is because the free-radical-anyalating antioxidants in green tea can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to heart disease.
- It increases your energy: Green tea contains caffeine (less than normal tea), which can help to increase your energy levels and improve your mental clarity. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling tired or run down.
- It promotes weight loss: Green tea has been shown to help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and helping to burn fat.
- It reduces your risk of prostate cancer: Green tea may be good for prostate health, again due to its high concentration of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – affecting one in eight men in the UK – and studies have shown that green tea may have a protective effect against prostate cancer.
One of the key compounds in green tea that may be beneficial for prostate health is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies.
Green tea may also be beneficial for reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that can cause urinary problems in men. The polyphenols in green tea, meanwhile, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation in the prostate gland and improve urinary symptoms.
So, if it can keep you healthy, give you energy, help you lose weight and keep your bits and bobs in full working order, why not try switching to green tea?
As for me, unfortunately my prostate cancer was a little too developed for green tea to have had much of an impact when I started drinking it back in 2017. But, it was caught early and my resulting treatment was thankfully successful, meaning I am cancer-free today.
Five years later, I am a complete green tea addict. The switch I made back then has stuck with me and I now drink at least six cups a day. I find it an everyday comfort that helps me to focus on the things that matter. If it’s helping me to stay healthy, that’s fantastic too, although I’m not sure I’m quite ready to give up the biscuits that go with it!
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