To protect bones from the risk of osteoporosis, we now know that we can count on a new ally, green tea! Yes, because this drink is not only anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, immunomodulating and helpful to keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control, but, as has been shown by recent scientific research, it counteracts the loss of bone density and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. The study was published a few days ago in the journal Nutrients by a Korean team (Lee et al, Nutrients, Dec 2021).
The process of bone formation and the risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system that causes a reduction in bone density and a destruction of the structure of the bone itself. The consequences are an increase in bone fragility and a greater risk of fracture, with a deterioration in the quality of life. Postmenopausal women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to decreased estrogen. This condition, in fact, stimulates the bone resorption processes. To understand this statement, it is necessary to make a clarification. The bones in our body are not static but subjected to a continuous process of regeneration which includes two phases, the resorption, or disintegration, by the osteoclasts and the phase of formation of new bone by the osteoblasts. Healthy bone is given by the balance of these two processes, while if the activity of osteoclasts predominate, as can happen for example in menopause, then there is a loss of bone density that can pave the way for osteoporosis. So how can bone loss be reduced and osteoporosis prevented? A help comes from green tea.
How green tea can protect bones
Green tea is a much loved and well known beverage all over the world. Green tea contains valuable antioxidants that are believed to be able to protect osteoblasts from attack by free radicals. Not only that, the epigallocatechin gallate, one of the most powerful and important active ingredients in green tea, increases the action of the alkaline phosphatase enzyme, which is found on the surface of osteoblasts and is responsible for regulating bone mineralization. Therefore, an increase in the activity of this enzyme also stimulates the mineralization of bone tissue. Finally, the flavonoids in green tea mildly mimic the action of estrogen and therefore can prevent the effects that a drop in estrogen can cause. Despite these premises, the possible anti-osteoporosis effect of green tea on humans has never been investigated to date.
Regular consumption of green tea reduces the risk of osteoporosis, the study
To fill this gap and understand if green tea can be an ally against the loss of bone density, the researchers analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2011 from a large study, the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination, designed to assess the impact of lifestyle and eating habits on health. The scientists selected the profiles of 3,530 women, all postmenopausal and whose data on green tea consumption and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry tests performed on the bones of the femur and lumbar spine were available. In particular, it was possible to compare the frequency with which women drank green tea and their bone density. What emerged was that women who regularly drank one to three cups of green tea a day had a lower risk of osteopenia, or decreased bone density, and osteoporosis than those who drank less than one cup of green tea a day. Therefore, what emerges from the study is that green tea is actually able to protect the health of our skeleton, our support in daily life.