January 6/London/The Express -- Green tea could be a far more powerful medicine than previously thought in fighting off Alzheimer's and cancer, experts have claimed.
Scientists were astounded at how effectively compounds within the drink, once they reached the gut, protected cells from attack. The green tea not only battled against toxins that allow plaques to build up in the brain, which lead to Alzheimer's, but it also stopped cancer cells from dividing.
The research by Newcastle University was carried out only on cells in a laboratory, but scientists insist this provides an insight into how the tea will work in human bodies.
Ed Okello, from the university's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said, "What was really exciting about this study was that we found, when green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals are actually more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer's development than the undigested form of the tea.
"In addition, we found the digested compounds had anti-cancer properties, significantly slowing down the growth of the tumor cells which we were using in our experiments."
Many companies make health claims about foods by testing their ingredients on cells in the lab, but this rarely takes account of what happens to these ingredients during digestion, when their structure can be fundamentally altered.
This study, published in the journal Phytomedicine, involved green tea going into an artificial bowel to see what compounds would be absorbed. Experts then used these remnants of green tea and tested them on human cells that replicate those found in patients with dementia and cancer.
The only problem with the results is the huge amounts of green tea that would have to be drunk to gain the same effects, but Okello said this would not stop him speaking out in support of the drink.
He added,"There are many factors that together have an influence on diseases such as cancer and dementia -- a good diet, plenty of exercise and a healthy lifestyle are all important.
"But it's fair to say that at least one cup of green tea every day may be good for you and I would certainly recommend it." Last night charities said the research backed previous studies that have suggested the ancient Chinese remedy can protect against dementia.
However, they insisted more research was needed to understand exactly how much people should drink in order to gain these benefits.
A spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Society said, "The researchers used a far higher dose of the active green tea chemical than would ever be found in the human body.
"More research is needed to see whether green tea is protective at a much lower dose and to understand the mechanism involved.
"Antioxidants, found in fruit, vegetables and green tea, should be part of a normal healthy diet."
From the January 7, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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