Updated: Oct 11
According to Japanese traditions, the secret to living a long and happy life lies within having a sense of purpose, a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Hector García, one of the authors of the book Ikigai*(生き甲斐) once said: You don't need huge ambition to be very happy, you just need a bunch of friends to drink green tea and talk with.
If it was up to me, I would replace green tea with coffee in the phrase above. Yes, I can definitely see how a bunch of friends and coffee could be the secret to a happy life! But after doing some research, I soon came to the conclusion that Mr. García is probably right and here's why.
What makes green tea so special?
1. Green tea contains unoxidised leaves of Camelia sinensis, a plant thriving in the cool mountain regions of China and Japan. It is one of the less processed types of tea and it's therefore an excellent source of antioxidants. These wonder nutrients have the unique ability to detoxify free radicals in our body and protect it against oxidative damage.
2. Thanks to its rich nutrient and antioxidant content green tea is thought to speed up metabolism and increase fat burning. One of the most valuable antioxidants contained in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that can boost metabolism and stimulate weight loss.
3. Green tea contains catechins that are known for their strong antibacterial and antiviral effect, i.e. their ability to treat inflammation. Catechins and more specifically EGCG can fight off viruses and inhibit the early stages of infection. This makes green tea a must in our daily nutrition plan especially during flu season or in times of COVID-19.
4. The polyphenols contained in green tea are thought to reduce tumour growth as well as the risk for cancer. According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research in April 2010, EGCG was found to inhibit cancer cell growth in the lungs. A more recent study published at Experimental Cell Research also mentioned similar effects in patients with breast cancer.
5. Green tea is also thought to have benefits for our skin. It seems that EGCG has worked its magic once again! EGCG is up to 200 times more effective than vitamin E in terms of destroying free radicals that cause skin-related problems with aging. Neutralising free radicals reduces the appearance of fine lines as well as other signs of aging. Green tea can't stop time but it can definitely help your skin handle aging better.
6. Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid known to have a tranquilising effect. Green tea actually owes its calming and soothing effect to this amino acid. There is nothing better than coming back home, preparing a steamy cup of green tea and relaxing after a long day at work.
All reasons mentioned above along with the great feeling of warmth that accompanies me every time I prepare a cup of green tea at home made me include two cups of green tea in my daily nutrition plan.
What do you think? Is green tea your cup of tea too?
*Ikigai by García & Miralles (2016) is a book about an ancient Japanese technique that is thought to help people lead a balanced life. Finding your ikigai is like finding your passion and mission in life. According to the book, practicing personal development, learning how to say no, simplifying life and aligning your personal goals with the goals of the community you live in are some ways in which you can learn how to lead a happy and balanced life.