People have been drinking tea for thousands of years and it’s the most popular beverage after water. Compared to black and oolong teas, green tea has the highest levels of polyphenol antioxidants, which neutralize the free radicals that can cause cancer and heart disease and increase the effects of aging. Green tea has a variety of health benefits and drinking two to three cups per day can relieve or prevent many stomach problems. For those who find the taste too bitter, green tea extract capsules are available.
Clinical studies have shown that green tea stimulates the digestive system. The presence of caffeine makes it a beneficial weight-loss aid because it helps the body burn calories faster, yet it’s gentler on the stomach than coffee. Additionally, it’s theorized that the polyphenols in green tea speed up the digestive process, increase metabolism, burn fat and help the body break down food more easily.
Drinking green tea is a safe and inexpensive way to neutralize gas in the digestive system caused by food intolerances. It can also relieve pressure from bloating, thus eliminating the pain that often accompanies gas.
Green tea helps reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. People with IBD are at an increased risk for colon cancer, which early studies have shown that green tea may help prevent.
The polyphenols in green tea have been found to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the stomach. Some studies suggest that when all factors (age, gender, education and alcohol consumption and smoking) have been accounted for, those who drink green tea are nearly 50 percent less likely to develop stomach cancer than those who do not.
While green tea has many health benefits, those benefits sometimes come with risks. Too much caffeine can cause increased heart rate, irritability and insomnia, and overdoses can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal spasms. People with kidney disorders, heart problems, stomach ulcers or anxiety should not drink green tea, nor should women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, green tea can have negative interactions with many medications, so check with your doctor if you have conditions that require treatment.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea
UCLA Public Health: Zuo-Feng Zhang: New Science, Old Goals [PDF]
Safe Alternative Medicine: Green Tea: Digestion and Metabolism
IBDUK: Can Green Tea Help With Gastrointestinal Illnesses