The hidden health risks of green tea
In recent years, green tea has taken on superfood status. And not without good reason.Green tea has loads of benefits, including its anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties. But did you know that, for certain people, green tea can actually be hazardous?
Here’s what you need to know to make sure green tea is helping, not harming you.Do you have an autoimmune condition?Men with certain autoimmune conditions might not want to drink green tea. Without getting super science-nerd on you, let me explain:
In a healthy body, there is balance between the Th1 (T cell) and Th2 (B cell) parts of our immune system. And that’s the desirable state. But autoimmune disorders can tip the scales one way or another. And certain foods can either help restore proper balance, or drive it even further out of whack.Green tea can boost your B cells.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?Green tea contains compounds that can boost your Th2 (B cells) – and whether that’s a benefit or a concern depends on your current condition.If you have an autoimmune disease that already gives you too many B cells, you probably don’t want to drink green tea because drinking it could throw your immune system even more off kilter and exacerbate your symptoms.
If you have any of the following you might be Th2 (B cell) dominant:
• Chronic sinusitis
• Many cancers
• Hepatitis B and C (mixed Th1 and Th2)
• Ulcerative colitis
• Viral infections
• Systemic lupus erythematosus
• Helminth infections
In other words, if any of those conditions apply to you, maybe lay off the green tea.By the way, there are some other Th2 stimulating compounds you might want to avoid while you’re at it. These may include resveratrol (found in red wine and grapes), and curcumin (found in Turmeric and common in curries).What if you are T cell dominant? Will green tea help balance things out?If you have an organ-specific autoimmune disease that means your T cell count is higher than normal, the compounds in green tea could help tip the scales in a more balanced favor.That could be the case if you have any of the following:
• Multiple sclerosis
• IBD/Crohn’s disease
• Type 1 diabetes
• Hashimoto’s disease, Graves disease (thyroiditis)
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Heliobacter pylori induced peptic ulcer
If any of those apply to you, green tea is probably a go. (But check with your doctor, just in case.)On the other hand, if you have any of these diseases, you might want to avoid T cell-stimulating compounds in foods like mushrooms (Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake) or supplements like Echinacea and certain types of ginseng.
Bottom line: Green tea has a proven track record of benefits for the average person. If you don’t have an autoimmune condition, go ahead and brew a cup.(Tip: chill green tea and add it to your super shake for a healthy morning buzz.)
But if you have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, especially a Th2 dominance disorder, green tea might be harmful.(If you want to learn more about Th1 and Th2 and their role in autoimmune disease, check out this study or this study. Or you can click here for a more comprehensive piece on green tea and autoimmunity).
The most important thing you need to know.Be wary of bandwagons that suggest certain foods or supplements are either miracle cures or pure poison. Usually, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Many foods and supplements have a wealth of proven health benefits, but that still doesn’t mean they’re good for everyone. That goes double for you if you have an autoimmune condition.
If you see yourself on either of the above lists, don’t jump to any conclusions and risk harming yourself.Talk to your doctor, and do what’s best for you.