Life Extension Update
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Green tea utilizes fat to increase endurance
The research team found that endurance, as measured periodically by how long the mice could swim before exhaustion, was improved by 8 percent by the end of the study in the mice who received the 0.2 percent GTE diets and up to 24 percent in the mice who received the 0.5 percent diets compared to the exercised mice who did not receive the extract. The improvement in endurance was accompanied by a higher rate of fat oxidation, which increased with the higher dose of green tea extract.
While the mice who received EGCG in the second experiment also showed improved endurance compared to the control mice, the effect was not as great as that elicited by green tea extract, showing that other components of green tea may combine to produce the effect.
The polyphenols found in green tea known as catechins have been recently shown to help counteract weight gain resulting from diets high in fat by virtue of their ability to activate the break down of fats in the liver. The authors write, "Overall, observations so far suggest that thermogenesis and fat oxidation are stimulated by the intake of catechins."
Lead author Takatoshi Murase estimated that “an athlete weighing 75 kilograms (165 pounds) would have to drink about four cups (0.8 liter) of green tea daily to match the effect in our experiments.” He added, "One of our important findings was that a single high-dose of GTE or its active ingredients didn't affect performance. So it's the long-term ingestion of GTE that is beneficial."
The authors conclude that, “Although the clinical efficacy of GTE has not yet been confirmed in human studies, our results suggest that GTE may be a useful tool for improving endurance capacity.”
Exercise enhancement and risk precautions
Natural supplements have been shown to decrease the systemic inflammation that is found in many disease states and that may accompany sustained physical activity. Vitamin K helps reduce levels of IL-6, a pro-inflammatory messenger. Vitamin K also helps in the treatment of osteoporosis by regulating calcium and promoting bone calcification, a factor that is also important for athletes. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fraction of fish oil is the best documented supplement to suppress TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-1(b), and LTB(4). Studies on healthy humans and those with rheumatoid disease show that fish oil suppresses these dangerous cytokines by up to 90% (Khalfoun et al. 1997; Weber 1997).
One supplement that has been shown to increase strength and lean body mass is creatine monohydrate. Some studies show clear-cut performance enhancement from creatine, although some do not. The general consensus is that creatine is best for activities that require explosive short duration activities, such as weight lifting or sprinting, but some endurance athletes do feel they benefit from using creatine even though the research has been contradictory on that point (Preen et al. 2001; Cox et al. 2002).
Creatine is a non-protein amino acid found in human tissue that is synthesized from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. Synthesized creatine is metabolized into phophocreatine, an important storage form used by the brain, heart and skeletal muscle.
Creatine monohydrate is a high-energy substrate that assists in muscle contraction, including the heart muscle. Adenosine triphosphate or ATP is the body’s essential energy compound, enhancing energy levels. Creatine helps to maintain higher levels of ATP, which, by absorbing hydrogen ions released into muscles during exercise, maximizes physical performance and reduces exercise fatigue. Creatine monohydrate has become popular with athletes, but it may also be beneficial for people who are nutritionally deficient, have conditions associated with low cellular energy, and those concerned with the muscular integrity of their heart.
The active constituents in green tea are powerful antioxidants called polyphenols (catechins) and flavonols. Several catechins are present in green tea and account for the bulk of favorable research reports. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most powerful of these catechins.
Research shows that green tea may help maintain the health of the arterial wall by reducing lipids while maintaining healthy platelet aggregation.
Green tea may also help maintain a healthy body weight. In one study, mice receiving green tea in their diets had a significant suppression of food intake, weight gain and fat tissue accumulation. Levels of cholesterol and triglycerides were lower in mice who received green tea. This study also showed that leptin levels decreased with green tea treatment, indicating that green tea may have a direct effect in reducing body weight.
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