What are antioxidants and what do they do?
That’s a very good question. They are both natural substances and synthetic substances that help treat free radicals in the body. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of some cellular metabolism. They’re useful for the immune system for killing foreign cells and bacteria; but if the situation gets out of control, they can be harmful to the body. A free radical is a substance that has lost an electron and is therefore an unstable ion. What it wants to do is become stable again. So it attacks a cell that’s close to it and takes an electron from that cell. Then a game of hot potato starts. A cascade of events occur leading to death within a cell. This causes premature aging and can lead to cancer. Antioxidants are substances that protect plants, for instance, in the environment. For example, they protect plants against smog, environmental pollution and ultraviolet radiation. These same properties that protect plants can be used to protect humans. With consumption of nutrients found within plants — such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene — these natural substances called antioxidants donate electrons and therefore neutralize the harmful effects of free radical damage.
If it works, why aren’t more people taking green tea? Are there any negative effects associated with it?
Green tea has caffeine in it, and caffeine doesn’t agree with certain people. For instance, it can lead to insomnia. It can lead to fibrocystic breast disease in women. It can lead to frequent urination. It can lead to elevated cholesterol and a host of other health problems. It can become addictive. Nevertheless, you will be pleased to know that green tea has one fifth the amount of caffeine that a typical cup of coffee has and one third the amount of caffeine that black tea has. Furthermore, there are extracts available which are virtually caffeine-free. As for why more people don’t take green tea, I don’t think they know about it. The Chinese have known about it for over 4,000 years, but it’s just now becoming available in extract form. People who may not want to drink the six to nine cups of tea that are needed to get maximum benefit can now take it in an extract form — in a capsule form.