The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Green Tea and Its Effect on Diabetes
There is a popular Chinese proverb, "Yi shi wei liao," which translates to "Let
food be medicine."  From the time of teas first discovery its many healthful ben-
efits are mentioned in early Chinese scripts from the
Shang (1766-1050BC) and
Zhou (1122-256BC) dynasties.  So it's not surprising that Western researchers
are now discovering what the Chinese have known all along; tea is good for
you.
Even though diabetes is found worldwide, the
United Sates has up to fifty percent of the world's
diabetics, which can likely be explained by the coun-
try's "fast food" diets and affluent lifestyles. Compli-
cations from diabetes is the sixth leading cause of
death in the
U.S. today.

There are two types of diabet-
es: type 1 and type 2.  Type
one, insulin dependent or juve-
nile onset diabetes usually be-
gins in early childhood, devel-
oping quickly.  Approximately
ten percent of the diabetes
population is type one.

Type one diabetics usually have
reduced numbers of active beta cells in the pancreas.  The active beta cells are responsible for    
                                                 producing and secreting the amount of insulin needed.  Type
                                                 one diabetics must inject insulin and balance its entry into the
                                                 bloodstream with food to maintain a normal use of sugar in the
                                                 system.

                                                 Type two diabetics are called non-insulin dependent or adult-
                                                 onset diabetics.  About ninety percent of diabetics are type two,
                                                 which usually begins in adulthood and progresses more slowly.
                                                 Although genetics play a role in developing Type two diabetes,
                                                 lifestyle factors such as being
overweight, poor diet, and lack of
                                                 exercise largely factor in.

                                                 With Type two diabetes a person usually secrets the right
                                                 amount of insulin into the system, but the active beta cells have
                                                 become desensitized to the hormone.

                                                 Insulin is a hormone that's produced by the pancreas in res-
ponse to the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.  Insulin serves two purposes, first
lowering blood sugar levels, and second,
increases the available amount of sugar
for normal cell functioning.

Normally, after eating a meal, complex car-
bohydrates are digested and absorbed
from the intestine into the bloodstream, in
the form of glucose and other simple sugars.
This results in a rise in blood sugar which
causes the pancreas to secrete insulin,
which makes way for sugar to move from
the blood into the cells.  Blood sugar levels
then fall and blood insulin levels return to
pre-meal state.

But for diabetics it works differently, with
the pancreas either secreting little or no in-
sulin at the rise in blood sugar after a meal, or a
normal amount of insulin is secreted by the pan-
creas, but the beta cells do not respond to it.  No
matter which, the end result is that blood sugar
levels stay high and sugar then spills into the urine,
that can cause many different complications from the abnormal levels of sugar in the system.

                                                 Even though
green tea is not a recommended treatment for
                                                 diabetics, it provides several
health benefits beyond those
                                                 achieved with exercise, diet, and medicine.  All tea contains
                                                 epicatechins (EC), a group of polyphenols from the catechin
                                                 group, but
green tea, because of its minimal processing (and
                                                 
white tea) contain the highest levels.

                                                 In studies epicatechin has been shown to bring down the high
                                                 blood sugar levels in diabetic animals, to normal levels.  Also,
                                                 after being given epicatechin, the beta cells of the animals
                                                 which had been found to be inactive, were also regenerated
                                                 and began functioning normally again.

                                                 Other animal research studies also indicate that along with          
                                                 promoting the secretion of insulin, epicatechin also acts like
                                                 insulin does in the body.  All in all, the research shows that tea
                                                 may have a preventative effect on diatetes.

Although there are no conclusive results from studies with human diabetics as of yet, there is an
enormous amount of ongoing research on tea's health benefits in nearly every area, so stay
tuned.

This is just one more example of how tea is good for you, whether battling an
illness or disease
or not.  And, since there are no downsides to drinking it, sit down and have a cup...or two, or
three, and reap the many benefits tea has to offer.  
Enjoy.
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