When the immune system becomes overactive, it begins attacking healthy tissue. This triggers a series of interactions in the body that can lead to many health problems. Chronic inflammation has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, certain cancers, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease, and eczema, among other conditions.
Chronic inflammation is typically triggered by a poor diet: fast-food, processed, and refined food are major offenders. Aside from improving one’s diet, drinking tea may help prevent inflammation.
According to a study from the Medical College of Georgia, green tea reduces the inflammatory response associated with autoimmune diseases. The researchers have been working with animals modeling Sjogren's syndrome (AKA dry mouth), which damages the glands that produce tears and saliva. While around 30 percent of elderly Americans suffer from dry mouth, only around 5 percent of elderly people in China do, according to Dr. Stephen Hsu, a researcher in the MCG School of Dentistry and lead investigator on the study
Sjogren’s syndrome causes the immune system to attack salivary and lacrimal glands, resulting in decreased production of saliva. Researchers studied the salivary glands of a water-consuming control group and a green tea extract-consuming group to look for inflammation and the number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells that gather at sites of inflammation to fend off foreign cells.
The group treated with green tea had significantly fewer lymphocytes. Their blood also showed lower levels of autoantibodies, protein weapons produced when the immune system attacks itself.
Researchers suspect that the EGCG in green tea can turn on the body's defense system against TNF-alpha , a group of proteins and molecules involved in systemic inflammation.