GREEN TEA: POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS

                                                      

Green tea, or camellia sinensi, is a rich source of flavonols, compounds that seem to benefit cardiovascular health. Flavonols are widely present not only in green tea, but also in cocoa, red wine and some fruits. The most abundant and most active flavonol in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate, and it likely has the greatest potentially beneficial effects. Among these benefits is enhanced control of blood sugar levels through improvement of insulin utilization by the body. Other advantages include decreased cholesterol absorption from the intestines and in lowering blood pressure levels.

   A recent study evaluated the published information on the effects of green tea and its extract on blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in diabetics. This study identified 17 trials encompassing a total of 1,133 subjects.  The researchers found that green tea consumption significantly reduced blood sugar levels, thus contributing to better management of the diabetic state.

   Since diabetes is quite common and is a serious threat to health, green tea could play a role in both prevention and management of this disorder. In addition to changes in life style (proper diet, weight reduction and exercise), regular consumption green tea might be a useful adjunct. 

   So how much green tea should one consume to favorably influence blood sugar levels? Another large study of diabetics suggested that individuals who drank about 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk of type 2 (adult acquired) diabetes compared with those who drank less or none.

   But since it’s a matter of taste, green tea may not be for everyone. If you like this product, however, especially if you are diabetic or at risk for later development of this disease, consider regular consumption of green tea—unsweetened of course!   

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HAND DRYING: PAPER TOWELS OR BLOWER?

                                             

       Have you ever wondered whether there was really any advantage in blow-drying your hands in the washroom? After all, there must be some compensation—other than saving money for the innkeeper—for the prolonged wait necessary for drying one’s hands in a public restroom. Even after that interminably long delay, however, I usually must finish hand drying with a handkerchief or other handy cloth item anyway. Nevertheless, intuition tells us that this method should clearly be the most hygienic method—right? Guess again—wrong!

     Well, fear not my friends; a reasonable answer to this question has recently been provided in a study generated by researchers at the Mayo Clinic*.

     This group reviewed the available evidence regarding speed of drying, extent of dryness, effective removal of bacteria, and prevention of cross-contamination. Most studies they reviewed concluded similarly that paper towels can dry hands sufficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment. From a hygienic viewpoint, therefore, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers. This group concluded that paper towels should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics. Although that seems counter-intuitive, facts are facts!

   So, what is the best overall procedure in the washroom? First, thorough washing should be accomplished with soap and water.  Disinfectant soaps are probably of no advantage. Drying, as noted, is best done with paper towels.  Blowers are less effective, probably because, if used for less than one minute, the hands remain damp, and wetness promotes the presence of residual bacteria. Moreover, a blower may promote dissemination of bacteria to the neighboring environment enhancing the chances for cross-contamination. Finally, the least desirable method of drying is with the cloth roller towels, which are a source of contaminants, especially when the end of the roll accommodates more than one user. 

    From a personal standpoint, I would recommend paper towels everywhere. This method might even provide an economic boost to our lumber industry!  



* Huang C, Ma W, and Stack S. The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: aa review of the evidence. Mayo Clin. Proc. 2012;87:791-798.

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