If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, chances are your healthcare provider has probably recommended you avoid sugary juices, sodas, cappuccinos, and sports energy drinks. But steering clear of this long list of sugary beverages doesn't mean you have to live a life absent of flavor – there are other healthier drink options you can sip on that will satisfy your taste buds without spiking your blood sugar. Drinking matcha tea regularly may help with disease management by helping balance blood sugar levels and reducing diabetes-related complications.
Matcha green tea powder provides a flavorful and super low-carb way to up your daily hydration, pack in more antioxidants, and provide a much-needed energy boost during an afternoon slump or kickstart to your morning routine.
Keep reading to discover seven surprising reasons matcha green tea may offer some seriously scientifically backed health benefits to people with diabetes or individuals looking to help prevent the disease.
What is matcha green tea powder?
Matcha is a type of green tea that originates from Japan and has a rich cultural history. It has been used for centuries in tea ceremonies and has remarkable health benefits. What separates matcha tea powder from traditional green tea is how it's grown and prepared.
In the last few weeks before harvest, the tea plant is shaded, which allows it to develop a high concentration of chlorophyll and a unique amino acid profile. This also gives matcha its rich, umami taste and vibrant green color. Once harvested, the leaves are carefully ground into a very fine powder. When drinking matcha, you consume the whole tea leaf, which is nutritionally rich and provides exceptionally potent benefits.
Can matcha green tea help stabilize blood sugar levels?
Short answer: Yes!
Growing research has shown that matcha green tea may help stabilize blood sugar levels – making it a drink of choice for diabetics.
Researchers studying the effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity have found that the natural sugars in green tea can help combat insulin spikes, which, in turn, help stabilize blood sugar levels.
One notable peer-reviewed meta-analysis of tea and its impact on the risk of developing diabetes also found that consuming three or more cups of tea daily was linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
So, how can drinking matcha green tea potentially help support diabetes?
In summary, drinking matcha regularly can help support diabetes management in the following seven ways:
- Blood sugar regulation
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Weight management
- Potent source of antioxidants
- Alleviate Inflammation
- Stress reduction
- Help build healthier habits
Blood Sugar Regulation
There have been mixed results with matcha green tea and blood sugar regulation, researchers agree that more human studies are needed. However, some studies show promise regarding the ability of matcha and green tea to lower blood sugar levels and increase glucose absorption.
Matcha is particularly rich in an antioxidant known as EGCG, which has been shown in multiple studies to improve insulin sensitivity and help the body utilize insulin more efficiently. One study, in particular, showed that participants who took a green tea extract for four weeks had reduced blood sugar levels and other positive results, such as improved gut health. Researchers found that these participants had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels after consuming green tea.
The catechins in matcha may also help slow down carbohydrate digestion and, therefore, help balance blood sugar levels. By slowing down digestion, matcha may help reduce the rapid spikes in blood sugar that often occur after eating. One randomized, controlled study found that a single dose of green tea extract considerably lowered both starch digestion and absorption.
Every time we eat and glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas works hard to pump out insulin. Insulin then brings glucose into the cells. If our bloodstream is constantly bombarded with too much glucose, cells may stop responding to all the insulin being released over time. They've become resistant. The pancreas will continue to make more and more insulin to get the cells to respond, but eventually, it won't be able to keep up.
Meanwhile, blood sugars will keep rising, which can damage the body and may lead to type 2 diabetes. This is why reversing insulin sensitivity or managing insulin sensitivity is so crucial.
While more conclusive evidence is needed, a few meta-analyses have concluded that matcha and green tea extract can improve insulin sensitivity and decrease fasting glucose levels. The EGCG in matcha may have a positive impact on insulin function and might help cells become more responsive to insulin.
By improving insulin sensitivity, matcha may assist in more efficient glucose uptake, reducing the reliance on excessive insulin production, which is especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. Improved insulin sensitivity might reduce the risk of prediabetes and help reverse diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, being overweight can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes and can also increase your risk for high blood sugar. In fact, one study showed that obesity is the number 1 risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Limited research shows that fat cells tend to be more resistant to insulin than muscle cells, which may mean that those with excess weight (or fat cells) are more likely to be insulin resistant.
Several studies show that matcha green tea may help improve metabolism and increase fat burning, which helps increase and support weight loss. There's no quick fix for weight loss, but losing weight is complex enough that anything that can support a healthy weight is a plus! One such study showed that matcha increased the body's rate of burning calories (otherwise known as thermogenesis) by 33%!
Belly fat, more than any other type of body fat, seems to be particularly harmful and raises the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Scientists believe that drinking matcha may be especially helpful for targeting belly fat, and one study found that drinking matcha before working out helped decrease abdominal fat in particular.
One of the main reasons matcha has become known for its benefits is because it is such a potent source of antioxidants. Matcha contains catechins, flavonoids, and polyphenols that act as a powerhouse of antioxidants. Antioxidants play a critical role in neutralizing harmful free radicals, which can lead to cellular damage and various chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Compared to green tea, matcha contains a higher amount of antioxidants.
Oxidative stress, which may be caused by an excess of free radicals, can lead to reactive oxygen species (ROS). While some ROS are actually crucial for health, high levels of ROS, research shows, are associated with insulin resistance, compromised insulin secretion, and pancreas dysfunction. Antioxidants have been studied for their ability to improve glucose metabolism, improve insulin secretion, decrease insulin sensitivity, and improve A1c levels.
Emerging research suggests that chronic systemic inflammation may be associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and that addressing inflammation should be considered when treating patients with diabetes. Conversely, having type 2 diabetes may also lead to more inflammation in the body. One study suggested that inflammation can target cells that respond to insulin and may lead to insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders.
Researchers believe matcha contains anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial to add to the diet to reduce chronic inflammation. EGCG, which matcha contains in droves, may be able to regulate inflammation. One of the main roles of antioxidants is to protect cells from free radicals, therefore reducing inflammation. Free radicals can damage cells, lead to oxidative stress, and ultimately cause inflammation. Matcha is a potent source of antioxidants.
Incorporating matcha into your diet can be a great way to fight low-grade inflammation, which is often correlated with diabetes.
Chronic stress can profoundly affect the body and is believed to influence hormones, sleep, muscle tension, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and yes, may even lead to insulin resistance.
It has long been believed that stress impacts metabolic function and that stress may even be a trigger for diabetes. Certain hormones are released when stressed, which can increase blood sugar levels and eventually may lead to insulin resistance. Stress is also often associated with unhealthy dietary patterns such as being sedentary, eating an unhealthy diet, and sleeping less.
While matcha does contain some caffeine, it's also a potent source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine is known for having a calming and relaxing effect. It also may help release certain neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, calming the mind and body.
In addition, the act of making matcha is an act of mindfulness. Intentional acts of mindfulness, like making a cup of matcha, can reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
Astoundingly, people who consume 1-2 sugary drinks per day have a 26% greater risk of developing diabetes. In the same study, which included over 192,000 men and women, replacing 1 of those sugary drinks with water or unsweetened coffee or tea was linked with a 2-10% lower risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.
One of the best ways to decrease the risk of diabetes, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels is to focus on having a healthy diet- which includes reducing sugary drinks. Drinking matcha, especially homemade matcha, can be one way to "crowd out" these nutrient-deficient, sugary drinks.
While matcha from a cafe may be premixed with sweeteners, you have control over what you're consuming when you make matcha at home. Making matcha a part of your daily routine encourages a transition to a health-conscious lifestyle, minimizing the impact of excess sugar on your overall well-being.
Managing stress is of the utmost importance for overall health, which extends to preventing and treating diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than half a billion people worldwide. There are different types of diabetes, but either the pancreas cannot produce insulin, or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin's primary role in the body is to take glucose (sugar) from your blood and move it into the cells.
Glucose, at its most basic form, is energy and helps to power our cells and is also the preferred energy source for our brain. Without insulin and the ability to use insulin properly, glucose stays in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar levels to rise, which can lead to serious health problems.
What are the different types of diabetes?
As we mentioned before, there are a few different types of diabetes mellitus- Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas's cells responsible for making insulin. It's important to note that this form of diabetes cannot be treated solely with diet and lifestyle (although diet and lifestyle are still important!).
In gestational diabetes, the placenta produces insulin-blocking hormones and typically resolves as soon as the baby is born. In type 2 diabetes, which comprises 90-95% of all diabetes cases, the body becomes unresponsive and resistant to insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be dramatically improved with both diet and lifestyle interventions.
The bottom line
With diabetes rates rapidly rising, it has become increasingly vital to explore diet and lifestyle as a way to manage, support, and treat this condition. From its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels to its impact on insulin sensitivity, matcha offers a wide range of benefits that may make a difference in the lives of those managing diabetes.
While matcha green tea by no means treats or prevents diabetes, there is research backing its ability to support your body's mechanisms. Matcha has been shown to hold the potential to regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, help weight management, and even reduce overall stress.
Before making any significant diet changes, always consult your healthcare provider or medical team.
You may also like:
- Healthy Aging: 8 Reasons to Consider Drinking Matcha Green Tea
- Matcha Green Tea for Better Bone Health as You Age
- Study: Matcha May Help Fight Depression
- 12 Month-Study on Matcha Green Tea Improving Sleep Health
Disclaimer: These statements in this blog post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It's essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
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