|How to Lower Cortisol to Increase Muscle Mass|
The health benefits of polyphenols found in green tea extract have been numerous. Several peer reviewed studies have documented green tea extract as potent antioxidant, as well as resulting in improvements in cardio-metabolic health (including reduced circulating cholesterol and triglycerides, increased thermogenesis and whole body fat oxidation , reduced blood pressure, and improved body mass index ratios. These health benefits, in part, relate to the bioactive catechin polyphenol content of green tea, of which (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) can account for between 50–80% of the total catechin content. In addition to the reported performance and health benefits of green tea, there is one other benefit for bodybuilders when using this supplement, it also lowers cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to release adrenaline, which sends out that “fight or flight” message in your brain. Stress activates the symphatetic nervous system, which results in a release of catecholamines. Catecholamines are “fight-or-flight” hormones that consist of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. They are involved in the modulation of cognition, awareness, attention, and emotional state, helping the body to cope with a stressful situation. A study reported in Science Daily found that regular tea drinkers are better able to bounce back after experiencing stress. Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine that helps promote calmness and relaxation in the brain. This amino acid also helps in the production of another amino acid called Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, that reduces excitation in the brain. Both theanine and GABA increase levels of calming neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which help you to feel calm.
To see how psychological stress and green tea were related to stress levels of cortisol, experiments measuring cognitive performance and serum levels of stress hormones were done. The rats were divided into five groups: control group (CT), stress group (ST), and three stress groups given low, medium and high doses of green tea polyphenols (LG, MG and HG). The green tea polyphenol (GTP) content of the three diets were 0.1%, 0.5% and 1%, respectively. Psychological stress was induced by keeping the rats restrained and inhibiting their movements six hours every day for three weeks. Their cognitive performance was then evaluated using an open-field test, a step-through test and a water maze. These tests measure both the activity level and memory ability of rats. In the open-field test, which measures how actively rats explore the arena, the stressed rats were much less active than the control rats. No significant improvement was seen in the rats fed the low dose of green tea polyphenols, while the rats given the medium or high dose were almost as active as the control rats. The memory of the rats was also affected by stress during the step-through test and water maze test. These tests measure spatial memory and the ability to remember adverse stimuli. Again, only the medium green tea polyphenols and high doses of green tea polyphenols significantly reduced the harmful effects of stress on the rats’ memory.
According to the authors, when the stress level is too high for the body to cope with, cognitive impairments appear and the levels of these hormones begin to decline. In the medium green tea polyphenols and high green tea polyphenols groups norepinephrine and dopamine levels were lower than in the control group, but much higher than in the high green tea polyphenols group. In other words, medium and higher levels of green tea polyphenols partially inhibited the stress-induced decrease in the levels of these hormones. All four stress groups had higher levels of plasma cortisol than the control group. Cortisol also causes blood pressure to rise and immune responses to be reduced. Feeding the stressed rats green tea polyphenols lowered their cortisol levels, but the reduction was statistically significant only in the medium green tea polyphenols group.
Chen W, Cheng Y, Zhao X, Li S.
Chen WQ, Zhao XL, Hou Y, Li ST, Hong Y, Wang DL, Cheng YY. Protective effects of green tea polyphenols on cognitive impairments induced by psychological stress in rats. Behav Brain Res. 2009 Aug 24;202(1):71-6.
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