Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Green Tea and Tai Chi Enhance Bone Health and Reduce Inflammation in Postmenopausal Women

Picture credit : www.diseaseproof.com

The potential for green tea to work synergistically with tai chi in enhancing bone strength has been examined in a group of postmenopausal women. The results show that consumption of GTP and participation in tai chi independently enhanced markers of bone health.

Green tea is chock full of compounds called polyphenols known for their potent antioxidant activity. Dozens of epidemiological (observational) studies have shown that people who consume the highest levels of green tea polyphenols (GTP) tend to have lower risks of several chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. These findings suggest that the mechanism behind this correlation may have to do with lowering chronic levels of inflammation.

In a recent research, Dr. Chwan-Li Shen of Texas Tech University and colleagues1 focused on postmenopausal women and investigated the potential for green tea to work synergistically with tai chi -- a traditional Chinese form of moderately intense aerobic fitness activity grounded in mind-body philosophy -- in enhancing bone strength.

Carried out as a double-blind, placebo-controlled, intervention trial (the "holy grail" of scientific studies), this experiment involved 171 postmenopausal women (mean age: ~57 y) who had weak bones but not full-fledged osteoporosis.

Subjects were divided into 4 groups:

- Placebo: starch pill (placebo) and no tai chi
- GTP: green tea polyphenols (500 mg/day)2 and no tai chi

- Placebo+TC: starch pill and tai chi (3 times/week)

- GTP+TC: green tea polyphenols and tai chi

The study lasted for 6 months, during which time blood and urine samples were collected and muscle strength assessed.

The results show that consumption of GTP (at a level equivalent to about 4-6 cups of steeped green tea daily) and participation in tai chi independently enhanced markers of bone health by 3 and 6 months, respectively. A similar effect was found for muscle strength at the 6-month time point. Participants taking tai chi classes also reported significant beneficial effects in quality of life in terms of improving their emotional and mental health. Perhaps most remarkable, however, was the substantial effect that both GTP and tai chi had on biological markers of oxidative stress. Because oxidative stress is a main precursor to inflammation, this finding suggests that green tea and tai chi may help reduce the underlying etiology of not only osteoporosis, but other inflammatory diseases as well.

Dr. Shen and colleagues concluded that there is a "favorable effect of modest green tea consumption on bone remodeling in this pre-osteoporotic population" and hope to soon complete a more long-term study utilizing more technically savvy measures of bone density.

(1) Green Tea, Tai Chi Enhance Bone Health, Reduce Inflammation in Postmenopausal Women, co-authored by Shen C, Chyu M, Yeh JK, Zhang Y, Pence B, Felton C, Brismee J, Dagda R, Doctolero S, Flores M, Wang J was presented as a poster at the Experimental Biology meetings on April 10, 2011.

(2) 500mg of GTP: green tea polyphenols is equivalent to about 4-6 cups of steeped green tea

Tai Chi For Beginners

The Tai Chi group that meets Tuesdays and Fridays at Hin Hua High School, Persiaran Raja Muda Musa, Klang welcomes beginners. Bilingual classes start at 8.30pm under the direction of Messrs Aw and Ng. No 'pyjamas' required; come in your most comfortable apparel .You can call our pharmacy on 03 31688469 for further details.

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