Asian Paradox

Asian Paradox
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Why do people living in Asia have lower heart disease and lung cancer rates than would be expected, given their level of smoking?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“What’s so special about green tea?” asked my medical alma mater in their health and nutrition letter. Well, in just the last 12 months, we’ve learned two cups a day may drop our stroke risk 70%; may halve our risk of dying from pneumonia; and, keep us from losing our teeth. Three cups a day, started six weeks before pollen season, significantly reduces allergy symptoms. And four cups a day may decrease our risk of diabetes—in part because tea may be useful in the prevention of obesity.

Considered nature’s defense against malignancies, at least according to Dr. Butt. And it may even help if we’re bitten by a venomous snake. Can your coffee do all that?

According to the head of Tufts’ antioxidant research laboratory, we can think of tea as a plant food, much like fruits and vegetables. In fact, green tea may explain the so-called Asian paradox: why do people in Asian countries, where smoking remains more popular, suffer heart disease and lung cancer at the same rate as Americans? The phytonutrients in green tea may be partly responsible, by maintaining artery function, inhibiting clots, and blocking tumor growth.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Alain Limoges via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“What’s so special about green tea?” asked my medical alma mater in their health and nutrition letter. Well, in just the last 12 months, we’ve learned two cups a day may drop our stroke risk 70%; may halve our risk of dying from pneumonia; and, keep us from losing our teeth. Three cups a day, started six weeks before pollen season, significantly reduces allergy symptoms. And four cups a day may decrease our risk of diabetes—in part because tea may be useful in the prevention of obesity.

Considered nature’s defense against malignancies, at least according to Dr. Butt. And it may even help if we’re bitten by a venomous snake. Can your coffee do all that?

According to the head of Tufts’ antioxidant research laboratory, we can think of tea as a plant food, much like fruits and vegetables. In fact, green tea may explain the so-called Asian paradox: why do people in Asian countries, where smoking remains more popular, suffer heart disease and lung cancer at the same rate as Americans? The phytonutrients in green tea may be partly responsible, by maintaining artery function, inhibiting clots, and blocking tumor growth.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Alain Limoges via flickr

Doctor's Note

Check out these videos on the benefits of drinking green tea:
Cancer, Interrupted: Green Tea
Better than Green Tea?
Antimutagenic Activity of Green vs. White Tea
Why Do Asian Women Have Less Breast Cancer?

And check out my other videos on green tea

For more context, also see my associated blog posts: Why Less Breast Cancer in Asia? and The Best Way to Prevent the Common Cold?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

18 responses to “Asian Paradox

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    1. The science supports that it is the fats in the diet that contribute to the most the development of type two diabetes. The sugar contains one molecule of glucose (our cells primary fuel source) and one molecule of fructose (metabolized almost exclusively by the liver to fats, uric acid, inflammatory aldehydes and glycogen). So sugar can be a contributing factor along with Exercise. They are only secondary to fat consumption… both animal and plant fat. In my clinical experience patients with type two diabetes who remove fats from their diet have the best results.




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      1. So you are saying to cut down on fat most importantly, but also on added fructose and sucrose (fructose+glucose). Whole fruit is okay? Or do you recommend that T2D patients also cut this out or down?




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        1. My understanding of competing/conflicting studies on T2D is as follows (mostly based on videos from this site – I am not a doctor and wouldn’t mind being corrected).

          Long term type 2 diabetes treatment should be to minimize fats; especially saturated fats.

          Short term type 2 diabetes treatment should be to minimize glucose spikes, as these can be hard on the rest of your body.

          The general idea is that the long term approach is intended to help restore balance to your glucose pathway while the short term approach tries to minimize the damage done to the rest of your body while the glucose pathway is subverted.

          This can be a bit contradictory, as if you want to burn fats from your muscles, it is probably better to limit your calorie intake window and increase your fasting periods, whereas if you want to minimize glucose spike levels it’s probably better to eat more, smaller meals. Ultimately I think the best approach would be to find a nutrition-savvy medical professional and decide on the best eating pattern to maximize fat treatment and minimize short term damage based on your specific case and how well you are able to mitigate sugar spikes damage using other approaches, like choosing lower glycemic index foods and supplementing insulin.




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        2. Whole fruit has no fat so it is generally fine for folks with type 2 diabetes. Added sugar in small amounts in not a problem either. However refined sugar is very calorie dense (i.e.1800 calories per pound) and as such won’t help with weight loss. Since most type two diabetes are overfat it is best minimized or avoided. See the video… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/diabetes-as-a-disease-of-fat-toxicity/. These are general recommendations and some individuals may need to minimize fruit for other reasons. It is important to work with your physician to avoid problems especially if you are on medications.




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  1. I would love to get rid of my per-hipertension, so I could drink green tea all day long, because I live green tea, unfortunately that may never happen.




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  2. Green tea on an empty stomach makes me nauseous. I’ve searched the internet for explanations, but all the results turn up unsatisfying answers, like that it’s the tannins. I drink a ton of red wine, which is full of tannins, and experience no nausea. And it’s not the caffeine, because coffee and soda don’t cause the problem. It’s something specific to green tea. This is, from what I surmise from internet searches, a common problem.




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    1. I would be curious if it matters whether you make the tea with distilled or tap water. Also, do you see similar issues with herbal tea and coffee?




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      1. I’ve tried both ways since, similar to Gina, green tea causes nausea for me. (I say “similar to” because green tea also causes me nausea when eaten with & immediately after meals.) Unfortunately, changing the type of water (distilled or tap) doesn’t change the nausea-inducing properties, whatever they may be. I wish there were a solution to this problem, since whenever I read (as here) about the benefits of drinking beverage made by steeping unfermented C. sinensis leaves I become–yes!–green with envy.

        As far as the other beverages you mention, sf_jeff, they don’t incite nausea in me. Black and oolong tea without soymilk also do cause problems, though not nearly to the degree that green tea does.




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    2. I have the same problem with green tea and stomach nausea. Curiously, I have no problems with jasmine tea (which is just green tea stored overnight with jasmine petals). Presumably the linalool (the major fragrance compound in jasmine and lavender) has a sedative effect on autonomic nerve activity in the stomach.




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  3. Because of the nausea that green tea causes me, and–based on her earlier post–Gina, I propose that Dr. Greger look into ways of combatting the apparently widespread problem.




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      1. Thank you for the suggestion, Darryl, and I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. As it turns out, when I wrote of my complaints with green tea, I’d already (though without saying it) included jasmine tea along with the green tea. It’s certainly a lovely fragrance … but that, unfortunately, doesn’t counteract the negative effects.




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