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Does green tea have probiotics?-no but it has 13 profound health effects

All this talk about green tea having antioxidants and other health benefits makes me wonder does green tea have probiotics amongst its other health benefits. I’m sure you would then also agree that it would then be the master of all drinks? I mean, there’s nothing that makes me feel as relaxed and rejuvenated as a cup of green tea.

Probiotics are living bacteria or fungi which when we eat them affect the microorganisms in our colon-our “microbiome”. The microbiome consists of bacteria, viruses and fungi, it can have a profound effect on our health. These micro-organisms produce molecules which we absorb into our bloodstreams, and they interact with our immune system in the wall of our gastrointestinal tract. The molecules we absorb from the microbiome have widespread effects throughout our bodies as does the alteration in our immune system.

On the whole the consumption of green tea is linked to improved gut health by increasing the proportion of healthy bacteria in our microbiome. However, Green tea does not contain significant numbers of live bacteria or fungus and so is not a probiotic.

There is a link between green tea and probiotics, in one area in the fields and also on the plants, lactobacillus plantarus, has been found. This is a probiotic bacterium and when green tea from this area is fermented it multiplies to form significant numbers that could have a probiotic effect.

Green tea can alter the balance of micro-organisms, so it has a similar effect to a prebiotic or probiotic but it does not introduce new species to the microbiome as a probiotic does. Where it fits in on the prebiotic/probiotic spectrum is seen in the following diagram-

does green tea have probiotics-mechanism of action fo probiotics, prebiotics and green tea on the miccrobiome
Mechanism of action of Probiotics, Prebiotics and Chemicals on the microbiome

Green tea is one of the best drinks available for health and has properties that can help in many different ways – from skin health to weight loss to gut health. Put your kettle on; it’s time to understand the benefits of green tea on a microbial level!

How green tea impacts gut health?

Green tea is a famous Asian drink, somewhat known as a miracle worker. It is labeled as a superfood especially known for its gut health, immune, and bone density support. It is said to provide protection against cancer, improvement of brain health, and more. Although it is commercially sold as a novelty in the West, it isn’t regarded as a miracle worker for anything.

Green tea has the ability to make a drastic impact on your body’s gut health. Having a healthy microbiome is vital in maintaining your overall well-being. It affects your digestion, fights against bacteria, and even boosts brain health. With more and more studies being done and showing the health benefits of green tea and its link to gut health, it might just be one of the most effective foods for enhancing your microbiome.

Green tea is rich in polyphenols which alter the microbiome and through that alteration many systems in the body. For instance there are certain gut microbes that affect how your body’s immune system reacts to some allergens. Flavonifracor plautii is a strain of the Clostridia family bacteria and is found in the gut. These bacteria are known to have positive effects on the immune system and can relieve inflammation. There is a group of immune cells called Th2 responsible for the body’s reaction to allergies. The F. plautii bacteria are triggered by the catechin antioxidant in green tea and can strongly suppress the Th2 cells.

The role of probiotics, prebiotics and green tea

Probiotics are made of good bacteria that help to keep your body healthy and working correctly. These good bacteria help you in many ways, including fighting off harmful bacteria. They allow you to feel better and have a healthier gut.

Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act as fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics are generally found in fruits and vegetables, specifically those containing complex carbohydrates like fiber and resistant starch.

Green tea is not prebiotic neither does it contain probiotic bacteria. However, it does through the chemicals it contains have a prebiotic like action, and green tea also helps the growth of some probiotic bacteria. This is similar to the beneficial effect of vitamins on probiotic bacteria. Its action is shown in the diagram above.

When people first start drinking green tea, they may experience gas, bloating, or diarrhea symptoms. This is due to the probiotic and prebiotic like properties causing changes in the gut microbiota. When these changes occur, it can lead to the microbiota producing more gas than usual, leading to bloating. These side effects usually clear up within a couple of days to a couple of weeks after starting to consume green tea.

Green tea is highly effective when taking antibiotics too. You are probably aware that the role of antibiotics is to kill bacteria in the body to rid your body of illness. But this is not the healthiest option for your system because it needs beneficial bacteria to survive and reform your microbiome after the antibiotic course is over. Some antibiotics have a very narrow spectrum of activity/bacterial killing and so less effect on the microbiome. You should always take antibiotics if your doctor feels that you need them, the microbiome is very good at recovering. Using green tea when taking antibiotics could even help the good bacteria and increase the action of antibiotics. It can also reduce the drug resistance in bacteria.

Do the antimicrobial properties of green tea affect the healthy microbiome?

Did you know that green tea also contains antimicrobial properties? Although, the fascinating thing about green tea is that its antimicrobial activities appear to be highly selective.

Green tea seems to be surprisingly effective at attacking the species of micro-organisms that we don’t want in our bodies. The tea is widely used topically for skin care. The external use of green tea can be effective in clearing microbially-induced skin breakouts, irritations, and acne on the face, body, and feet.

Green tea also works as a cleansing mouth rinse, and even a solution as weak as 2% supports oral health by keeping biofilm in check. Drinking green tea can further benefit your mouth by boosting the antibacterial properties of saliva.

Suppose you are looking for support in urinary wellness. In that case, the antimicrobial characteristics of green tea have the potential to do so with as little as a single cup daily clearing the urinary tract of unfriendly bacteria.

Fortunately, the antimicrobial properties in green tea are highly selective, so it only goes after undesirable organisms while leaving the beneficial flora unharmed.

Studies were done to determine how green tea affects the gut show no harmful change or show that the microbial composition was significantly improved with increased numbers of desirable species, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

An important reason that green tea helps boost your numbers of good bacteria is that it has phytochemicals which protect beneficial bacteria and inhibit bad micro-organisms. So green tea basically gives you the best of both worlds.

Probiotic green tea products

As green tea supports good bacteria it makes sense to combine it with probiotic bacteria.

Consumer awareness of digestive wellness is creating a shifting trend in the food and beverage market. A “healthy gut” is a significant need. Fermented food and beverages rich in probiotics are targeted to promote gut health. Wholefood lists are extending their probiotics lists from yogurts to cereals, granola, and wafers. But green tea makes it high on that list because of its natural microbial benefits.

Different companies have recently joined the healthy gut trend by combining traditional food rich in probiotics with other superfoods like matcha to increase its results and enrich digestive health.

A few examples of this is:

  • ·       The green tea matcha kefir by Lifeway brings billions of probiotics into it from 12 different cultures.
  • ·       Terra Origin is a flavored green tea matcha powder mix (containing probiotics and collagen) that can easily be added to smoothies, cereal, or yogurt.
  • ·       Organic Traditions green tea matcha latte mix is another option.
  • ·       The most common and old-school probiotic product is kombucha, a fermented beverage which can be made from green tea.

There are numerous options available that have been made as superfoods, but if you want to stick to entirely natural methods, natural good quality green tea works great all by itself!

The relation between green tea and probiotics

Even though green tea does not actually contain pre and probiotics, it does through its various phytochemicals alter the microbiome much like both prebiotics and probiotics do.

Below are some examples of the beneficial effects of green tea:

This one seems obvious to mention since it is precisely what we have been talking about. So, in short – probiotics contain good bacteria and help restore the natural balance of the gut bacteria. Green tea has the same effect on the gut through its chemical action favoring probiotic bacteria.

This one might sound confusing because many people report green tea to cause more bowel movements. Whereas the extra toilet trips and excess gas only happen at the start of taking green tea, mainly because it regulates your digestive system. Green tea is particularly effective against Helicobacter pylori infections that cause ulcers, thanks to a concentration of catechins.

Probiotics reduce the risk and severity of diarrhea because they balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. This increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. The catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in the brain, lowering the risk of dementia conditions such as Alzheimer’s and also Parkinson’s disease.

Probiotics can help to improve the symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress, and memory problems, among others. The Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains of bacteria can help with mental syndromes, including autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

While not all probiotics can aid in weight loss, many of them actually prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestines. The fat is excreted through the feces rather than stored in the body. Probiotics also help you feel fuller for longer and burn more calories. This is partly caused by increasing levels of certain hormones, such as GLP-1.

If you look at any ingredient list for fat-burning supplements, green tea will likely be on there. According to research, green tea can increase fat burning and boost your metabolic rate. The caffeine in green tea could cause improved physical performance, which could also lead to weight loss.

Cardiovascular diseases and strokes are the leading cause of death worldwide. Green tea may improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, which include improving total cholesterol and LDL levels. It increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood, which protects the LDL particles from oxidation – which is one pathway to heart disease.

Probiotics also lower LDL levels and blood pressure. Certain lactic acid-producing bacteria can reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut. Bile is a naturally occurring fluid mostly made of cholesterol and helps digestion. Probiotics help break down the bile, which prevents it from being reabsorbed in the gut, where it can enter the blood so increasing cholesterol levels.

Someone prone to environmental allergies or skin allergies would generally have a weak immune system, but it is often linked to poor gut health. The imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can lead to a unbalanced immune system and make you prone to allergens. Probiotics balance the situation, reducing the risk of suffering from allergies.

EGCG is one of the most abundant and biologically active antioxidants found in tea. EGCG fights allergic reactions by blocking histamine and immunoglobulin E production, two compounds in the body that are chiefly involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions.

Probiotics can help boost your immune system by inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body and boost immune cells like IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. Probiotics protect and help you fight against infections.

Green tea is packed with antioxidants, amino acids, and other compounds that collectively re-energize, restore, and revitalize your body’s key functions, making it stronger to be able to ward off certain illnesses.

The antioxidants, specifically the catechins in green tea, are known to improve oral health. Consuming green tea regularly can reduce the growth of Streptococcus mutans, which is responsible for plaque build-up and the formation of cavities. Another oral health benefit of drinking green tea helps to destroy harmful bacteria before it is absorbed into the body.

Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri has been particularly shown to reduce gum bleeding and gingivitis. Taking a probiotic can also eliminate the build-up of harmful bacteria from the teeth and minimize plaque build-up. It can promote fresh breath due to balancing your gut health.

Probiotics can decrease fasting blood sugar by reducing inflammation and preventing the destruction of pancreatic cells that make insulin. G

Green tea consumption is associated with decreased fasting glucose levels and reduced fasting insulin levels, which indicate better diabetic health. Green tea can manage blood sugar levels for those already diagnosed with diabetes.

The good bacteria in probiotics can help lower your risk for several cancers. They help your immune system function at its best so it can detect and kill cells that may become malignant.

The polyphenols in green tea can decrease tumor growth and may protect against damage caused by ultraviolet UVB radiation. A high level of polyphenols in the tea can help kill cancerous cells and stop them from growing.

From the above points, it is clear that green tea also possesses many of the benefits of probiotics. This shows that green tea plays a similar role in health benefits that probiotics do and part of this may be by increasing probiotic bacteria. Green tea also has a wide range of other benefits as a function of its phyto chemicals particularly epigallocatechin gallate.

Conclusion-does green tea have probiotics?

Green tea does not itself contain probiotic/beneficial bacteria, but it can help them grow and proliferate. However, it also has a chemical effect in inhibiting bad bacteria. Then through epigallocatechin gallate and epicatechin absorbed into the blood stream it has a variety of other health benefits by inhibiting both cancer and heart disease.

Drink it in the morning, in the evening, with your food, or with your medication. Or if you do not like the taste you could use green tea matcha powder, which is ground green tea leaves. Simply add the matcha powder to a smoothie or breakfast cereal with fruit to mask the taste.

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