Tea to Help Prevent and Manage Diabetes

Tea to Help Prevent and Manage Diabetes by MethodsofHealing.com

Tea helps to increase the ability of your pancreas to produce insulin

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, second only to water. Oolong and green tea are closely related and they are both produced from the camellia sinensis plant. Both teas are used medicinally to help prevent and treat a number of health conditions, one of which is diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by chronic high blood sugar levels due to insulin problems. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating blood-sugar levels and individuals with type 1 diabetes, which is sometimes referred to as Juvenile diabetes do not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. Individuals with type 2 diabetes may produce enough insulin but they are insensitive or resistant to it. Oolong and green tea are helpful for managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and green tea can also help to reduce your risk for developing both types of diabetes.

Green Tea for Prevention

Many studies have been conducted to examine the antidiabetic effects of drinking green tea. The "Journal of General Internal Medicine" conducted a meta-analysis of 9 such studies to evaluate the association between green tea consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The journal concluded that a high intake of tea can in fact help to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, people who drank four or more cups of green tea per day had a 20% lower risk or developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those who drank less than 4 cups or no tea at all. Animal studies also suggest that green tea can help prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and slow its progression if it has already developed. It should be noted that only green tea produced a preventative effect and black and oolong tea do not appear to reduce the risk.

How Tea Helps to Prevent Diabetes

The exact way that green tea helps to reduce the risk for developing diabetes is unknown. However, studies done on mice suggest the polyphenols in green tea, in particular a catechins called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), mimic the effects of insulin. In so doing, they increase the body's ability to metabolize glucose and thereby help to keep blood sugar levels from soaring too high. In addition, green tea appears to increase fat metabolism and prevent obesity, which is helpful because obesity sets the stage for diabetes.

Tea to Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes usually begins during childhood and it is incurable. These individuals require insulin shots and there is currently no substitute for this treatment. However, drinking green or oolong tea daily can work adjunctively with insulin shots. Tea can help to enhance the body's ability to utilize insulin and drinking 4 to 6 cups daily may therefore help to reduce the dose of insulin that is required. In addition, the regular consumption of tea has been found to help slow the progression of type 1 diabetes once it is established.

Tea to Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is a disease that results primarily from lifestyle factors. Following a proper diet and exercise routine can reverse type 2 diabetes and both green and oolong tea can work adjunctively to facilitate the reversal. Green tea has been found to improve sensitivity to insulin and enhance glucose tolerance. It also helps to block the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevent blood glucose levels from rising too high.

Oolong tea is also beneficial for the management of type 2 diabetes. In fact, a one month study done on type 2 diabetics found that drinking 6 cups of oolong tea daily reduced participants blood glucose levels from 229 to 162 milligrams/deciliter. Another study used 4.5 cups of oolong tea daily, and it resulted in a marked decrease in A1C levels, which is the measure used to calculate an individuals average blood glucose levels over a three month period.

According to the American Diabetes Associations, oolong tea is especially beneficial as an adjunct to oral hyperglycemic drugs. A study done on individuals taking oral hyperglycemic drugs along with oolong tea, found a significant lowering of blood glucose levels over participants who were taking the drugs with water alone.

Tea and Secondary Diabetic Disorders

Obesity and diabetes are often intertwined, with obesity being both a cause of, and an exacerbating factor of, diabetes. A recent study cited in the June 2011 edition of "Alternative Medicine Review" journal, examined the effects of a decaffeinated green tea extract providing 865 mg of EGCG daily on obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. The individuals taking the green tea extract experienced not only an improvement in insulin levels but also a significant reduction in waist circumference. Other studies have confirmed that green tea improves the metabolism of fat and aids in weight loss. This is significant because weight loss helps to reverse type 2 diabetes and to slow the progression of type 1.

A high intake of tea can also help to reduce blood pressure, as well as the unhealthy LDL and total cholesterol levels; all three of which can lead to, or worsen, cardiovascular disease. In addition, tea has been found to increase the healthy HDL cholesterol levels, help prevent atherosclerosis and to promote overall cardiovascular health. This is important because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in diabetics, and diabetics are also as at a greater risk for developing it.

How to Optimize the Antidiabetic Effects of Tea

Studies suggest that 4 to 6 cups per day of tea is the optimum amount for both preventative and curative purposes. For the best results, do not to add cows milk, soy milk or any other type of milk to your tea, because they will decrease the positive effects that tea has on insulin (see reference 1, page 149). On the other hand, adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice has been found to enhance the antidiabetic effects of both green and oolong tea.


"The American Diabetes Association: Guide to Herbs and Nutritional Supplements"; Laura Shane-Mcwhorter; 2009
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