WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha is finely ground green tea leaves, containing a wealth of magical benefits. I’m sure we’ve all heard of how great green tea is for the body and mind, but since matcha is a more potent variation of green tea, with a bigger bang-for-your-buck outcome, we’re going to be exclusively looking at matcha today. Just know that green tea carries similar beneficial effects, but that 1 cup (8 oz) of matcha is generally equivalent to 8-10 cups (64-80oz) of green tea.
There are SO many benefits to matcha (and green tea) that have been documented. Because I don’t want this blog turning into a 35-page paper, I’ll do my best to summarize and keep it straightforward.
For all you visual folk, below is a splendid graphic from Molecules journal that illustrates the copious benefits of matcha in a clear way for you to absorb before you read on…
Now let’s check out the amazing advantages of consuming matcha:
- Super duper rich in L-Theanine (more info on that later) <– you don’t want to miss that!
- Stimulates Alpha Brain waves — giving you a calm, hyper-focused feeling
- Insanely high in catechins (which are basically “super-antioxidants“)
- Caffeine and L-Theanine in matcha work together to balance out the jitters you’d get from coffee/other caffeine beverages, while still boosting your energy with 65 mg of caffeine, similar to that of an espresso shot, but in a massively more profitable way for your body and mind
- Increases dopamine in the brain, via L-Theanine
- Anti-cancer: high ORAC score (more about that below) <– again, you GOTTA read that
- For gut health:
- Reduces inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that cause leaky gut.
- Increases glucose and lipid absorption, which translates to you absorbing your food better.
- For heart health:
- Reduces oxidative stress/other stress-response proteins in the vascular system
- Reduces inflammatory pathways
- Strengthens blood vessels
- Heart disease = #1 killer in America… It could be something worth attempting to (naturally ;)) prevent.
MATCHA FOR LIVER HEALTH
I wanted to separate this so I can really drive home the importance of healthy liver function. Without going on a rampage about the organ, let’s look at the liver:
Your liver cleanses, detoxes, regulates, protects, and by and large HEALS you every moment of every day. If your liver isn’t functioning properly, so much of your body — metabolism, hormones, circulation, immune system, skin, blood sugar, and digestion, just to name a few — will all be compromised in some way or another.
It’s safe to say that most of us are aware of the crazy-harmful effects alcohol has on our liver — be it one drink every now and then, or 10-50+ years of nightly beers or glasses of wine. I’m 100% not saying to stop consuming alcohol, at all! However, just ACTUALLY be aware that every time we drink, we’re doing way more harm than good for our bodies… though our spirits (pun intended) may be having a grand ol’ time playing and feeling. If every time we had alcohol, we were smacked with the obvious disservice we’re doing to our bods, we might be more inclined to give our livers a lil’ love in simple and attainable ways (like matcha).
And with that, just by having this beautiful, bright green beverage before/after drinking alcohol, and/or on a daily basis to aid in our liver health, we are negating the damage that alcohol is so clearly doing to us. Since we know matcha is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and great for cognitive performance and overall longevity, we can feel better about Marg-Mondays/all those beers we threw back last night. Consider using this magical, healing, natural elixir as a supportive ally for your liver (and the rest of your bodily systems).
Dr. Christian Gonzalez has a one minute clip on Instagram, HERE, from his matcha/gut and liver health podcast episode (that I’ll link at the bottom of this post) that explains (much better than I can) the importance of matcha/green tea to combat alcohol’s harmful consequences.
Remember, the liver is also negatively affected by refined sugars (which, spoiler alert, are hidden in practically everything), so even if you’re a sober party animal, all of our livers could really use some assistance.
***Other happy liver items to note: milk thistle, beets, garlic, onions, apples, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, turmeric, and citrus.
- Matcha has ~65 mg of caffeine per cup
- Green tea has ~30 mg of caffeine per cup
- Regular coffee has 90-200 mg of caffeine per cup
- Espresso has 60-80 mg of caffeine per cup
Although matcha contains more caffeine than green tea, it is balanced with a beautiful amino acid, L-Theanine. This is what gives you the “relaxed alertness” you feel when sipping on a matcha drink. I LOVE coffee, don’t get me wrong… It’s a marvelous cup of goodness that I love indulging in a few times a week, but there are often side effects from the intensity of the caffeine that people feel that wouldn’t be felt as much (if at all) if it was paired with L-Theanine in the way matcha is.
Coffee makes me feel like a superhero… anyone else? I feel like I can kick down a wall and f*&% some $#!t up, hard. But, sometimes it’s too much.
Even with all the ecstatic, mood-boosting effects from coffee, do you ever notice your breathing getting shallower? How about your heart rate increasing in a not-so-positive way? Maybe to the point of sleeplessness at night, or even to the point where you burn yourself out mid-day from moving so quickly (without actually breathing deeply/slowly for hours on end), so now that it’s 2pm and you’re exhausted, you go get an iced coffee to give yourself another hit? I get it.
What if there was an alternative? One (like matcha) that opens, enlivens, heals, and enhances the body + mental cognition, just by its nature. I’m not saying to ditch your fav caffeine beverages altogether, but consider adding matcha into your (ideally) daily items to consume. Instead of that second (or third, or fourth) cup of coffee in the late morning/afternoon, try opting for matcha instead! Or, if you hate the taste of matcha, make a strong green tea.
HIGH ORAC SCORE
“ORAC” stands for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, which simply means the amount of free radicals that can be absorbed, by the matcha in this case, and namely, by EGCG (green tea catechin, or “super-antioxidant”).
When we think of foods that are rich in antioxidants, one that often pops up in our brains first are berries!
Blueberries contain an ORAC score of 24. Cool.
Matcha, on the other hand, has an ORAC score of 1384. EXCUSE ME? That’s some rockstar-level free-radical-fighting power!
* GO ORGANIC. SERIOUSLY. I could write a whole other blog about WHY organic is such a must for this, but I won’t (yet..?). Just trust me on it, or do your homework.
* BEST BRANDS I’VE FOUND (both are very sustainable, clean, and transparent in their certifications/testing results):
Encha Organic Matcha (sold on Amazon, if that floats your convenience-boat)
*Heal Thy Self (hosted by Dr. Christian Gonzalez) podcast #118 – Matcha, Healing Drinks, Matcha Brands, Guest Dr. Asia Muhammed, Gut & Liver Health:
This dude is phenomenal, and this episode is so intensive and thorough. –> If you thought this post was wild, he uses ACTUAL scientific lingo, which totally just ups the legitimacy by 10000%, for most peeps at least. Check it out!
When you make your matcha, make it a ritual, a ceremony, a celebration, not just because you’ve heard of a “matcha ceremony”, but because you are doing right by your body! There is an abundance of magical healing and a wealth of goodness going into each system of your body… that is something to celebrate! It’s also pretty common knowledge (at least among the woo-woo crowd) that when you are mindful about something, you tend to have a more “real”, more tangible, more potent outcome from your intentional experience. Whether it’s your visualization/gratitude practice for the life you desire, or ACTUALLY seeing, tasting, and embracing every ingredient in your meal, knowing each item holds its own special healing properties. When you slow down, pay attention, and truly feel gratitude for what’s in front of you (or what you’re chewing/sipping on), I believe our bodies feel that, and respond in accordance to it.
You are giving your body an agent of magnificent healing, energy, pleasure, and ease when you sip on a matcha (or green tea), so FEEL IT! Thank your body for every time it’s naturally healed you in the past — even when you didn’t think it could or didn’t know it was happening. Give an appreciative smile and nod to your forever-devotional bod, since it does so much for you, every moment of every day, without asking for a “thank you”. When you do right by your body, your body will do right by you. (You just have to actually believe it and do it).