Green Tea Modifies Gene Expression to Improve Fat Metabolism
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Several new studies help explain how epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the active catechin in green tea, helps fat cell metabolism as well as helping clear out abnormal accumulation of fat in cells that line the arteries.
In one study EGCG was shown to turn on a signaling cascade called the WNT/β-catenin pathway that enables signals to cross through a cell membrane and accumulate within the cell to the point that they trigger gene activity. The net result of this gene signaling activity was that fat particles did not accumulate in the fat cells.
One of the largest problems for overweight people is that fat cells keep expanding with extra fat, perpetuating and aggravating the weight gain issue and causing a lack of fitness in fat cells. EGCG is a nutrient tool that can help restore fitness to fat, which will obviously work best if a person does not overeat.
A second study looked at the gene signaling involved with EGCG and cardiovascular disease. It tested the effects of EGCG on aortic endothelial cells. It showed that EGCG prevented the accumulation of fat within these cells, an important issue since fat accumulation is associated with plaque formation in these cells.
Gene analysis showed that EGCG turned on autophagy genes, which are cellular house cleaners. When fat is coming in to these cells too fast then house cleaning chores are overwhelmed, fat accumulates, and energetic function is handicapped – a combination of factors that leads to malfunction of key arterial cells. EGCG helps these cells handle their work load, thereby reducing the inappropriate accumulation of fat within them.
Both studies, via different mechanisms, demonstrate the green tea helps prevent the improper accumulation of fat by guiding gene signaling to better cope with a stressful situation. These type of gene expression studies lend support to the numerous human studies showing that green tea helps fat metabolism and reduces cardiovascular risk.
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