A new study is the first “to have proved the relationship between green tea consumption and incident risk of functional disability.” In other words, drinking green tea daily can improve your chances of enjoying a healthy, independent retirement and being less likely to develop problems when performing everyday activities.
In the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a team of Japanese researchers followed 13,988 Japanese adults age 65 and older for a three-year period. The team evaluated how much green tea the older adults consumed daily and compared it with the level of functional disability they experienced.
Problems with everyday activities such as dressing, shopping, and doing housework were noted in 7% of study participants who drank at least five cups of green tea daily, compared with nearly 13% among adults who drank less than one cup of green tea per day.
The “secret” of green tea is believed to be the presence of catchins, a type of phytonutrient and potent antioxidant capable of fighting and destroying molecules that damage cells and contribute to disability, aging, and disease.
Previous research has indicated that one of the most important catechins is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). One example of the importance of EGCG has been seen in studies involving green tea and prostate cancer, where EGCG has been shown to slow the growth of prostate cancer as well as reduce the levels of PSA and two biomarkers for prostate cancer, hepatocyte growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor.
The benefits of green tea extend ever further, as a growing number of studies show EGCG and green tea to be associated with weight loss, reducing heart disease risk, protecting gum health, and offering anticancer potential beyond prostate cancer.
Now in this latest study, the lead researcher, Yasutake Tomata, of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, has noted that “green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability, even after adjustment for possible confounding factors.”
At this point, the study’s authors are encouraging more studies to confirm any protective benefits of green tea against functional disability in older adults. However, given what we already know about the health advantages of green tea, it seems a wise choice to make green tea a part of your daily diet to enhance your health now and for your retirement years.
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Tomata Y et al. Green tea consumption and the risk of incident functional disability in elderly Japanese: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 study. Am J Clin Nutr 2012 Mar; 95(3):732-39