Friday, May 8, 2009

Tea's Protection for Diabetics

Diabetes is one of our leading killers. Today, over 20 million people in the US have diabetes, and nearly one third of them don’t even know it. In addition, about 54 million people are pre-diabetic, meaning that their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to cause a diagnosis of diabetes. Complications from diabetes include blindness, cataracts, kidney problems, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and foot and skin problems.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, the hormone that converts sugar and other food into energy. The most common type of diabetes seen today is Type II, where insulin is produced (though sometimes not in a high enough quantity), but is not used properly, resulting in a high level of blood glucose in the body. Type I diabetes is diagnosed in childhood, and results from an inability to produce insulin.

Doctors are not entirely sure of the cause of diabetes, but we do know that people who are obese and who do not get regular exercise are at a much greater risk of developing Type II diabetes than those who exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Family history also plays a part.

There is no cure for diabetes. Once you have developed the disease, you must simply work to control your blood sugar levels for the rest of your life. Some Type II diabetics are dependent upon insulin injections, while others are able to control their diabetes through diet and exercise. All Type I diabetics require insulin treatment because their body is not able to produce insulin on its own.

For Type II diabetics, it is preferable to be able to control their blood sugars without the use of insulin. If insulin is required, patients must either give themselves daily injections, or require an insulin pump. Either is cumbersome and restrictive, so managing the diabetes naturally is certainly preferred.

To manage Type II diabetes without insulin, careful attention must be paid to the food that you eat, and blood sugar levels must be monitored religiously. Diabetics who are managing their disease without medication must be careful to get enough exercise each day to account for the carbohydrates they consume in order to prevent their blood sugar levels from skyrocketing.

For these patients, any help in regulating blood sugar is welcome. And, it’s possible that some help may come in the form of tea. Much research has been performed in the last few years on the ability of tea, particularly green tea, to naturally regulate blood sugar levels.

Tea is full of anti-oxidants, which are very important in preventing disease. Anti-oxidants fight the free radicals that our body creates each day during the digestive process. Left unchecked, free radicals cause disease and aging. Free radicals are known to contribute to heart disease and cancer.

It’s likely that these anti-oxidants in tea are the reason that it helps control blood sugar, too. One study, reported by the UK Tea Council, examined each and every form of anti-oxidant in tea and measured its effect on non-insulin dependent diabetics.

This study found a direct correlation between anti-oxidant activity in the body and the consumption of green tea. As much as a 24% decrease in the activity of erythrocyte membranes that contribute to heart disease were noted with the consumption of tea’s anti-oxidants. This is important, since 3 of 5 diabetics will suffer a heart attack.

Other studies have shown that tea had a significant effect on the blood glucose levels of diabetic mice. When the mice were given tea, their blood sugar levels stayed consistent and did not rise above normal levels. Another study showed that green tea consumption of less than 5 cups per day may have the power to reduce blood sugar levels enough to reduce the complications of diabetes.

While it’s certain that more research is needed, there is much promise in the use of tea to help control diabetes. There are likely many more studies that need to be conducted before we fully understand what tea can do for diabetics and exactly how it works.
It will indeed be good news to learn exactly how tea’s anti-oxidants prevent diseases and exactly which diseases it affects. It will also be useful to learn how much tea we need to drink and if drinking it a certain times of the day decrease or increase its effectiveness.

But, while we’re waiting for more information, there’s no reason that you can’t go ahead and add tea to your diet, if you’re not already drinking it. Tea is healthy and has no side effects. So, whether your preference is green tea or black, hot or cold, with milk or without, drink your tea today. And if you’re struggling to control diabetes without the use of insulin, tea may also help you in this battle.

Jon Stout is Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, black tea and wholesale tea go to
By Jon Stout
Published: 5/2/2007

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