Earlier this year, researchers found that Chinese people, who habitually have a thermos of green tea ready to go, and who drink it at least three times a week were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
And it seems the news about green tea gets even better. Japanese researchers have found that the human gut - yes, that part of you including the stomach which influences your immune system can also benefit from regular cups of the age old elixir.
In their study, the researchers looked at green tea and the abundance of Flavonifractor plautii (FP) bacteria found in the gut. FP has been reported to be a part of the catechin metabolism in the intestines. Catechin is an antioxidant found in a variety of foods including green tea, of which 30 to 42 per cent of its dry weight is catechin.
The food we eat effects the complex cocktail of different strains of bacteria in the gut. Drinking green tea increases the abundance of FP (Flavonifractor plautii) which suppresses the immune response, which for some people can cause diseases.
FP is a strain of bacteria which is known to have effects on the immune system, notably inhibiting inflammation. Some strains show promise of lowering blood pressure and some are known to be abundant in lean people and not in heavier people, leading researchers to believe they can be used to regulate weight.
Researchers are now looking at the potential of adding FP strains to everyday foods but more research is needed.
And a note of caution. Lifestyle and postcode may play a big role. The researchers are based in Nagano, and because of its mountainous terrain the residents there have had to survive long winters without access to the outside world and have cultivated a rich food culture of natural foods.
Nowadays, its residents have the best health and highest longevity in Japan, meaning it is likely a great contender for the area with some of the best health lifestyles in the world.
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