How is Green Tea Good for You?

How Is Green Tea Good For You?
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How is Green Tea Good for You?

Introduction

Are you in pain today? I am. Looking for some relief? I’m trying a new option. Green tea! How is Green Tea Good for you? Read on to find out.

So today was a painful day. I know those of you who are in pain have some days that are better than others. Me too. For some reason, and I’m not sure why, today was not a good day. I’m doing my stretches and taking some OTC pain medication (which I hate to do, but you know there are just some days that you can’t take it), but the pain is persisting.

So as I have been doing throughout my pain journey, I turned to the web to research some more options for relief. Thankfully I found some promising information about green tea.

What Did I Find?

Apparently green tea has a high amount of polyphenols. What, you ask are those? According to Wikipedia, polyphenols are a structural class of mainly natural, but also synthetic or semi synthetic, organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units. Oh, that’s helpful isn’t it?

What is a phenol? In layman’s terms, it is another compound in a group called hydroxyls. These compounds act as antioxidants. Antioxidants act as defenders of our body, cleaning up free radicals, which contribute to aging and cell damage.

Phenols are also referred to, in this case, as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. These compounds are what are being studied in relation to pain relief.

By defending our body with these antioxidants, they reduce inflammation. Inflammation in our joints can contribute to pain. This is especially true if you have an autoimmune disease like arthritis. I have been told I have arthritis and arthritis like symptoms. My dad had it so bad that he had to retire early. It deformed his hands and feet too. He had daily pain.

So, in essence the antioxidant properties of green tea fight the bad guys that cause inflammation. Want to know a bit more about inflammation? Go to this WebMD site. (Sorry about all the ads; not something I can control.)

 

How Is Green Tea Good For You?2
Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay

 

How Much Should You Drink?

I have seen a recommended two cups daily. But another site said three to five cups. As with any food consumed in excess there can be dangerous side effects. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, it would be best to consult a medical professional before you start drinking green tea. Also, you should consult a professional to diagnose your pain for causes and possible solutions. (Although with much chronic pain, there don’t seem to be lasting solutions.)

Green tea contains caffeine, but a lower amount compared to coffee. There are only 25 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup. If caffeine keeps you awake, then be sure to not drink it in the evening.

I’m switching to green tea now. I am a coffee lover, but I like too much creamer and sugar in it; both of which are terrible for my inflammation and pain. In my journey to consume less sugar, this is a perfect time to switch. I had slowly reduced my sugar intake and so this seems like a good time to change drinks.

There is research that states that milk and soy reduce the availability of the helpful antioxidants, so you should not drink your tea with those if you are hoping for health benefits.

Other Forms of Green Tea

Supplements – Made from green tea extracts, these usually contain a greater amount of the ECGCs that are so beneficial. But because there is such a high level, there are instances where the high level can cause liver toxicity. If you go for a supplement, be sure to read the ingredients.

Matcha – Made from the green tea leaves, that have been ground up into a fine powder. These are added to a hot liquid. Matcha also contains more ECGCs just like the supplements, so be careful of liver toxicity.

Bottled Green Tea – Made just as brewed green tea is. Contains similar ECGCs as brewed. This is a more expensive way to consume your tea. And many products have sugar added.


Who May Benefit From Green Tea?

Obviously, I am recommending green tea for people in chronic pain, especially if you know there is inflammation involved. But in my research I found other conditions that may benefit from green tea.

Green tea:

  • Lowers risk of some cancers
  • Increases brain function
  • Assists in weight loss
  • May help prevent type 2 diabetes
  • Slows the aging process
  • Reduces chance of heart disease

I found this information on a site published by Healthline. Click here to read it. They back up all the claims with research.

Don’t Expect Miracles

If you’re like me, you want results now. But with natural products I think it takes time. I read that other factors will influence how much green tea will help you to feel better. Think about other changes you should make for your health. (I still struggle with some of them myself.)

  • Cut down on sugar consumption
  • Cut down on fat consumption
  • Increase movement
  • Get a decent night’s sleep

All of these above factors can influence your pain. I have written articles on all those topics. Here’s one on sleep.  Go to the search bar on my page to find others.

Other Precautions

From my research I also found some precautions. They are:

  • Supplements of green tea can cause liver toxicity because of the high dose of EGCG.
  • If you are taking Vitamin K if you are also on a blood thinner.
  • There appears to be an increase in gastric cancer associated with green tea, but that may be due to thermal effects.
  • If you drink it all day, it may lead to brittle bones and teeth because of the fluoride in most green teas.

Conclusion

What do you think? Are you a green tea drinker? Please let me know what benefits you get from drinking green tea.

Do you have questions about other foods or drinks that may benefit pain sufferers? Please leave them here. I will consider researching other products.

How Is Green Tea Good For You?3
Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay

Can Sugar Cause Joint Pain?

FoodieFactor – Pixabay

Introduction

We hear and read that sugar is a bad thing.  In my head I know this. In my mouth; not so much.  I said before in another post that I know it is related to inflammation.  And that I am addicted. And that I need to give it up. But why? And how?  

Don’t read this article if you don’t want to fix your sugar addiction.  I researched this kicking and screaming.  

Why am I writing this article?  Because I’ve read, however superficially, that sugar can cause inflammation.  So I decided to get to the bottom of this claim. If that is really the case, then what am I going to do about it?  Because if sugar makes my pain worse, then I should do something. Because I have chronic pain and want to find natural remedies and relief to my pain.

What is sugar?

To quote Wikipedia, “ Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food.”  If an ingredient ends in the letters “ose”, it is a sugar.  We are most familiar with sugar made from the sugar cane plant.  I was shocked to read that this product is the ninth most valuable crop harvested in the world.  Most processed foods (i.e. foods not in a natural state) contain sugar.  

Sugar is a natural part of many food groups, like fruit, vegetables and milk.  Our bodies convert sugars to energy. If we have too much sugar in our system, the body stores it as fat.  If you want a deeper explanation of sugar see this article called Understanding Sugars

Do you have inflammation?

First of all, I needed to understand exactly what inflammation is.  I hear it a lot. In my mind it implies an area of my body that is “on fire”. A helpful definition for me from Study.com was, “a series of defensive biological reactions to harmful agents that leads to pain, redness, and swelling, and heat in the affected areas of the body.”  Our amazing bodies have the ability to fight harmful enemies that attack them. And one way they fight is with inflammation. So that’s a good thing, right?  

Yes.  But not if it is chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is caused by disease like diabetes or heart disease.  It appears to be part of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. And if a nerve is injured, secondary problems like inflammation may result.  

My condition is caused by spinal stenosis.  The pain I have in my buttock is very similar to sciatica pain, from what I understand.  When I am at my worst, the pain can go into my upper thigh. It used to go into my calf, but the stretching and exercises I do have helped relieve that.  

The research I have done states that my pain might be a result of inflammation, or at least exacerbated by it.  It is important to know if your pain involves inflammation. But I’m not sure how to find that out. I found this medical abstract that suggests there are studies being done to link inflammation to neurological pain.  This is an exciting time to be alive as research advances in this area.  

From my research I understand that inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis so if you suffer from that, then inflammation is an issue for you.  Rheumatoid arthritis is where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints and causes pain. Inflammation is involved here also. Ask your doctor if your pain might be related to inflammation.  If so, then read on to see how you might help yourself.

nattanan23 – Pixabay

How does sugar affect inflammation?

In my research I was surprised that I couldn’t find more scientific support for the relationship of sugar to inflammation.  It seems it is just stated without research backup. The closest thing I could find was an article that stated that, “Sugar stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.” (Medical News Today) See their article, Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body?  

Our bodies seem to see sugar as an attacking enemy and start the immune system working.  Our immune system sends out the troops to fight the enemy and that process can produce heat, swelling and pain.  If this process is triggered to be ongoing, it results in chronic inflammation and therefore pain.

Since I couldn’t find any studies that showed a clear association of sugar with inflammation, I’m going out on a limb to say that I think sugar does affect inflammation.  I’m looking at it this way; the sugar feeds the bad cells and our body has to attack those guys. In the attack, swelling, heat and white cells are formed. Hence inflammation.  I know that’s not very scientific, but it’s the best I can do to understand this.  

Then to answer my question in the title; yes, sugar can cause joint pain.  

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez Reyes

How is sugar making your feel bad? 

So, if we can assume that sugar and inflammation are related, then the first way sugar makes you feel bad is by causing inflammation.  And inflammation may cause pain. So I’m going to challenge myself to cut back or cut out sugar.

There are other ways sugar is making you feel bad.  You also probably know how sugar can affect people with diabetes by raising their blood glucose.  Prolonged high blood sugar can lead to all sorts of problems for diabetics, including blindness and loss of limbs.  Too much of it is related to weight gain. It appears to be related to heart disease. And it ages you! I’m vain enough to be motivated to stop eating sugar just for that reason! 🙂

So What?

You think you ought to cut down on sugar?  Or cut it out?  

Only you can make the call.  I do recommend that you start out slowly, with small changes.  From experience I know that making little changes raises my success rate in sticking to those changes.  For example; I just had intestinal surgery. I was told to start walking immediately, but very small amounts.  So I just walked around my room for a few days. Then down the hall. Then back and forth in the hall. Then a fourth of a mile out in the parking lot.  You get the picture. I’m up to one to two miles a day now.  

Here is another article which helped me to cut down on my sugar called Everything You Need to Know About Sugar.  It helped me make some changes in my sugar consumption.  I like that it recommends baby steps.

Here’s another great article with 14 Simple Ways to Stop Eating Sugar.  It’s very informative and helpful.

What Should I Eat?

While there are seemingly millions of options to choose from, finding the right food plan for yourself is a challenge.  

I have promised myself that I am cutting back on sugar as of the beginning of this week when I started the article.  And I have. But oh the cravings! I personally am finding it helpful to:

Stevepb – Pixabay
  1. Drink water 
  2. Snack on protein  
  3. Have fruit on hand when a sweet craving hits.  
  4. Let some time pass.  The craving usually goes away.

But you might have to approach it differently.  

I found a post that has some really interesting looking recipes that promise to cut down on inflammation.  Click on this link of 15 Inflammation Fighting Recipes.  I haven’t tried any yet, but plan to.  The cold brew ice cream recipe calls for sugar though!

Is Atkins Diet a possibility?  Yes, it is. Since the basis for this diet is a low carb diet, than you are going to avoid most foods that have sugar in them.  This diet became popular in the 1970s after Dr. Atkins promoted his book based on this diet. It has since been researched to show that it is a successful weight loss diet.  But it can be a successful plan to follow if you want to cut out sugars. Google Atkins Diet if you want more information.

Is Keto the way to go?  As far as I can see, the Keto Diet and the Atkins Diet are the same.  I recommend you google this term if you are interested in more information.

I am on a low grain diet due to my stomach issues.  I have found my stomach issues have improved and I have lost weight.  Losing weight was a secondary concern for me. I mean, I needed to lose, but more than that, I wanted my intestinal pain to stop.  It has. This diet isn’t one you will find anywhere. My gastroenterologist told me that diverticulitis came on the scene when humans started to mill grains.  So, I figured cutting out grains might make a difference. It has.  

What Else?

I’ve found at least two articles that highlight how important sleep is to overcome sugar addiction.  But is you are a pain sufferer, you are probably challenged by getting a good night’s sleep in the first place.  I know! Me too! I’ve written an article about this topic. See this link.  

I am also considering joining a support group online or a forum with fellow sugar addicts.  I know from experience having someone else support me in my struggles, as well as being accountable to them, is very important.  It also increases your success rate.

You have some other ideas for success?  Or comments about what I have written. Please leave them here.  Your comments and ideas will help others.  

Can Meditation Help with Pain Control? Read More to Find Out.

 

Relaxing

 

This is a topic that has come up time and again in my research. I have avoided it because I know so little about it. I know it is time to buckle down and learn about it. Especially if it helps my pain management. And yours!  Can Meditation Help with Pain Control?

What is Meditation?

The dictionary defines meditation as the act of meditating.  Oh that’s helpful isn’t it?  Synonyms are: contemplation, thinking, musing prayer.  I like the example used that it is “cultivating the presence of God in meditation and prayer”.

Because I am a Christian, and I have been taught that meditation is from Eastern religion, I have avoided this topic. The eastern form of meditation calls for emptying the mind to gain oneness with the universe.  This is very antithetical to what the Bible calls me to do.  I am to meditate on God and seek to abide in Him.  So can I safely and honestly practice meditation to manage my pain?  How would that look?  And would it help my pain, or only focus my mind and soul on God?  Not that that is a bad thing!  Because it isn’t.  That is my chief aim in life; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That said, can I combine meditation with my Christian beliefs?

I think so.  And you can continue reading if you don’t practice Christianity.  Because the same principles apply in practicing meditation.

Before I move on, I see the term mindfulness associated with meditation.  Mindfulness is being aware of something.  I think of it as disciplining my mind to focus on a certain thought.  Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand.  Meditation is the tool, mindfulness is the path.

How Does Meditation Help to Relieve Pain?

When we experience pain, our body releases hormones that magnify the pain, called stress hormones.  Our mind focuses on the pain.  We tense our muscles.  Meditation can reverse that by releasing calming hormones.  The calmer state of mind not only stops the body from releasing stress hormones, but also starts the body to release endorphins, i.e. feel good hormones.  These hormones can be released other ways also.  Some practices that release endorphins which I have used were exercise, laughing, caring for someone else.  See my post here for more information.  This calms the body, relaxing the muscles and joints.  With that comes less pain.  So meditation packs a one two punch, lessening stress hormones, and releasing endorphins.  This is accomplished by refocusing the mind.

How Can You Practice Meditation to Relieve Your Pain?

There are many websites that walk you through the steps to meditate.   From my research I have gleaned the basics.  They are

  1. Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet place.  You don’t have to sit in the classic cross legged position that you see in so many images.  Get comfortable.  Quiet is vital as it sets the environment for peace and uninterrupted concentration.
  2. Close your eyes.  It may help to be in a darkened room, if at all possible.
  3. Concentrate on breathing.  Simply breath normally.  But notice the effects your breathing has on your body.
  4. Practice this for just two or three minutes.

Easy, right?  The results should be that you will find you are more relaxed.  As you grow comfortable with this practice, you should be able to increase the time spent.  As you increase the time, you should reap more benefits.  From my reading, the research says that the longer you practice meditation, the more benefits you gain.  I have found this to be true with the stretches that I do.  Some of these natural remedies take work and discipline and time.  But I can testify that they produce results.  And if I can avoid medication and surgery, then I am motivated to practice them.

I found two apps that were recommended on this website, Meditation: An Opioid Alternative.  The apps are: Back Doctor and Stop, Breathe and Think.  They are both free.  I haven’t tried them long enough to know how effective they are, but I plan to give them serious trials.

As a Christian, my focus while I practice mindfulness and relaxing through meditation, will be to meditate on a verse in the Bible, or on a characteristic of God.

Other Helpful Practices

Posture

Most of us tend to sit in a slouch position.  It is the natural way we sit.  But maintaining a straight spine position is helpful to relieving back and buttocks pain.  Challenge yourself to maintain good posture when you are walking, standing and especially sitting.  It does take practice.  And it is another example of mindfulness.

Heat and Cold Pack

I have discussed this before.  For temporary relief of pain you can try heat or cold.  The difference is that cold reduces inflammation and heat assists in blood flow.  The both act to deaden the pain.  You may want to try doing both; cold for a few minutes, nothing for a few minutes, heat for a few minutes.  Do not leave either one on for more than 20 minutes.  Use a towel to protect your skin from the cold or heat source.

Conclusions

I believe meditation is a valid alternative as a pain remedy.  If practiced on a regular basis, a person should find relief from their pain.  I welcome your comments and questions.  I am especially interested to know those of you who practice meditation and what your results are.  I am also open to suggestions and corrections, as I am not familiar enough with this practice to feel I the final authority.  I am not receiving any fees for recommending any links here.  If you do chose to click on an ad or a product, I do receive a small percentage should you chose to buy something.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I hope it is helpful and that in practicing meditation, you will find some relief from your pain.

For those of you who desire to practice Christian meditation, I recommend you start at this website.  I found this helpful and challenging and plan to add it to my daily Bible study.

And if you’ve read this far, I bet you are wondering what that picture has to do with meditation?  The original caption was 3 turtles relaxing on the beach in Hawaii.  I don’t know, but it seems to me those guys (or probably girls, exhausted from the journey to lay their eggs) look like they know how to chill.  I want that picture in my mind; how totally comfortable they are and in the beautiful sunset of God’s creation.

 

Review of Jane Adams’ Gentle Yoga DVD – A Self Care Natural Solution for Pain and Inflammation

yoga, natural stretches, pain
yoga, natural stretches, pain
Gentle Yoga

Review of DVD Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams

Format: DVD
Rating: I give it 5 stars

Introduction

Following is a review of the DVD Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams – Strength, Balance, Flexibility. This program has made a huge difference in my pain management.  I am finding it is vital to stretch my body on a regular basis to lessen my pain.  And this program is very easy to follow and use.

Do you have questions about yoga?  Don’t worry, this DVD doesn’t go into any Hindu practices.  As a Christian, I worried about that when I first began investigating pain management options.  Yoga’s original purpose appears to be to balance the mind and body.  Originally it combined meditation, deep breathing and various postures.

But this series only concentrates on the postures and relaxed breathing.  It is surprising how we forget to breathe properly when we are exercising.  In this presentation, Jane reminds us constantly to breathe, coordinating the inhale and exhale with the movements.  This is helpful because it does force the body to relax.  And when our bodies are more relaxed, the pain doesn’t seem as bad.  Also, while concentrating on breathing, we focus less on our pain.  Apparently with the stretches, practiced on a regular basis, we can experience more flexibility, increased muscle tone, and increased strength.  So many benefits from simple stretches!

What Subjects are Covered?

The DVD is divided into six sections.  The first one is the Introduction.  In the introduction she talks about the series and states how easy it is to start.  She even has a disclaimer that tells you to go easy on yourself and not attempt any stretch that hurts.   She is very engaging in this and it is an encouragement to start the program.  The next five sections are actual yoga exercises.  They are, Lying Warm-ups (20 minutes), Balancing and Standing Poses (33 minutes), Upper Body (13 minutes), Torso and Leg Strength & Flexibility (20 minutes), and Relaxation (7 minutes).  

Depending on which sequence you are using you will need a yoga mat (#2,5 and 6), a chair (#4) and maybe a blanket.  So thankfully your expenditures are only the DVD and a mat.

Why I Like This DVD

Jane has a sweet calm spirit.  Her voice is very relaxing.  But what I particularly like is how specific she is in her instructions.  She tells you exactly how to move each part of your body that is involved in that particular pose.  She takes it very slow.  She is very deliberate.  She is so considerate in explaining the exercise that you don’t even have to look at the screen.  This is vital sometimes if your head is turned away or you are lying on the floor.  I found it very helpful because I had not done yoga before.

I am 68, and was afraid I was too old to start something new like this.  But because the back cover of the DVD states that it is “perfect for mid-lifers”, I thought I would give it a try.  I am so glad I did.  It is some of the best money I have ever spent.  These regular exercises have helped me manage my pain in a natural way.  My pain is less than when I first developed the problem.  I believe it is from the stretches I do.  I have noticed that if I skip a couple of days (usually because of a busy morning) that I pay for it in pain.  And I have seen other benefits from the stretches.  They include, less pain overall, more flexibility, better balance, feeling younger, and a calmer mind.  Also, if you are afraid of some “spiritual” emphasis on yoga practices, you won’t find them in this video.  I steer clear of mysticism so I was happy to see that Jane didn’t include that in this video.

How I Use This DVD

I make it a regular practice to use this DVD.  My goal is to do it five days a week, but if I can do it more than that, I will.  The benefits are worth it.  I combine it with another DVD that I reviewed.  It is Back to Life by Emily Lark.  Go here to see the review.  I use the first section of Emily’s stretches, which takes about 10 minutes.  Then I use the Torso and Leg Strength & Flexibility in this DVD for 20 minutes.  One of THE BEST uses of 30 minutes that I can think of!  Since I am fairly new to yoga, I am not familiar with all the other benefits, but I am sure more experienced practitioners could add more comments.  I hope anyone that wants to comment or add wisdom will do so.  Your involvement will help us all.

I like to start my day off with these stretches.  I find if I don’t, I get too busy and forget about doing it.  I’m sure you’ve heard that you must schedule exercise into your daily routine.  I agree.  That’s why one of my philosophies is to be proactive about my health.  Nobody knows my body like I do.  And no one can take as good care of it as I can.  Isn’t your good health your responsibility?  And don’t you want to do something about your pain?  Then, if it is at all possible for you to stretch, I recommend you try this.

Here is a clip from another DVD.  Although it is a different one, it shows how gentle she is and how easy it is to follow her.

Jane Adams “Gentle Yoga: 7 Practices for Your Day”

Conclusions

I highly recommend this DVD.  It has helped me to feel better!  I hope that it would do the same for you.

You can assist all of us in the pain community by posting your comments.  Can you recommend something that has helped you?  I would be glad to investigate it.  Perhaps it will help others.

If you want to start out slowly with an easy DVD, this is the one to use.

Thanks for reading this review.  Please leave comments or questions below.  I will respond to all comments in a timely manner.

 

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