Tea For Hypertension & The Current Health Decline

This episode will talk about a new study of tea for hypertension from the University of California, Irvine, showing that green and black tea compounds relax blood vessels by activating ion channel proteins in the blood vessel wall. We will also talk about a national study that shows health declining in Gen X and Gen Y.

  • Gen X – 1965 – 1980
  • Gen Y – 1981 – 1996
  • Gen Z – 1997 – 2015

The discovery helps explain the antihypertensive properties of tea and could lead to the design of new blood pressure-lowering medications. It is also a good reason why tea for hypertension should be a part of your diet.

Since its initial use in China over 4000 years ago, tea has become one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide, second only to water. Upwards of 2 billion cups of tea are currently drunk each day worldwide [1].

The leaves of the evergreen species Camellia sinensis are used to make the most prevalent caffeinated teas. Since they are produced from the same plant, the differences between tea varieties (green, oolong, and black) are due to leaf fermentation levels (unfermented, partially fermented, and fully fermented, respectively), which impart the characteristic properties and flavors of the teas.

The research revealed two catechin-type flavonoid compounds (epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin-3-gallate) found in tea. Each activates a specific type of ion channel protein named KCNQ5, allowing potassium ions to diffuse out of cells to reduce cellular excitability as KCNQ5 is found in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels. Its activation by tea catechins was also predicted to relax blood vessels [2].

“We found by using computer modeling and mutagenesis studies that specific catechins bind to the foot of the voltage sensor, which is the part of KCNQ5 that allows the channel to open in response to cellular excitation. This binding allows the channel to open much more easily and earlier in the cellular excitation process,” explained Abbott.

As many as one-third of the world’s adult population has hypertension. This condition is considered the number one modifiable risk factor for global cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.

In addition to its role in controlling vascular tone, KCNQ5 is expressed in various brain parts, where it regulates electrical activity and signaling between neurons. Pathogenic KCNQ5 gene variants exist that impair its channel function and cause epileptic encephalopathy, a developmental disorder that causes frequent seizures.

Because catechins can cross the blood-brain barrier, discovering their ability to activate KCNQ5 may suggest a future mechanism to fix broken KCNQ5 channels to improve brain excitability disorders stemming from their dysfunction.

Abstract was Taken from the Study 

Background/Aims: Tea, produced from the evergreen Camellia sinensis, has reported therapeutic properties against multiple pathologies, including hypertension. Although some studies validate the health benefits of tea, few have investigated the molecular mechanisms of action. The KCNQ5 voltage-gated potassium channel contributes to vascular smooth muscle tone and neuronal M-current regulation. Methods: We applied electrophysiology, myography, mass spectrometry, and in silico docking to determine the effects and their underlying molecular mechanisms of tea and its components on KCNQ channels and arterial tone. Results: A 1% green tea extract (GTE) hyperpolarized cells by augmenting KCNQ5 activity >20-fold at resting potential; similar effects of black tea were inhibited by milk. In contrast, GTE had lesser effects on KCNQ2/Q3 and inhibited KCNQ1/E1. Tea polyphenols epicatechin gallate (ECG) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), but not epicatechin or epigallocatechin, isoform-selectively hyperpolarized KCNQ5 activation voltage dependence. In silico docking and mutagenesis revealed that activation by ECG requires KCNQ5-R212, at the voltage sensor foot. Strikingly, ECG and EGCG but not epicatechin KCNQ-dependently relaxed rat mesenteric arteries. Conclusion: KCNQ5 activation contributes to vasodilation by tea; ECG and EGCG are candidates for future antihypertensive drug development [3].

Health Declining in Gen X and Gen Y, National Study Shows

A new national study reveals that recent generations showed a worrying decline in health compared to their parents and grandparents when they were the same age. Previous generations showed poorer physical health, higher unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use and smoking, and more depression and anxiety.

Hui Zheng conducted the study with Paola Echave, a graduate student in sociology at Ohio State. The results were published on March 18, 2021, in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-2016 (62,833 respondents) and the National Health Interview Survey 1997-2018 (625,221 respondents) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The researchers used eight markers of metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and diabetes, to measure physical health. Some characteristics include waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and body mass index (BMI). They also used one marker of chronic inflammation, low urinary albumin, and one additional quality of renal function, creatinine clearance [4].

Abstract of results:

  • The magnitude of the increase is higher for White men than other groups (mainly increase in metabolic syndrome), while Black men have the steepest increase in low urinary albumin (a marker of chronic inflammation). 
    • The presence of a small amount of albumin in the urine may be an early indicator of kidney disease.
  • Whites undergo distinctive increases in anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking, and have a higher level than Blacks and Hispanics of smoking and drug use in recent cohorts. Smoking is not responsible for the increasing physiological dysregulation across cohorts. 
  • The obesity epidemic contributes to the increase in metabolic syndrome, but not in low urinary albumin. The worsening physiological and mental health profiles among younger generations imply a challenging morbidity and mortality prospect for the United States, one that may be particularly unfavorable for Whites.
  • Results showed that levels of anxiety and depression have increased for each generation of whites from the War Babies generation (born 1943-45) through Gen Y.
    • While levels of these two mental health indicators did increase for Blacks up through the early Baby Boomers, the rate has been generally flat since then.
  • For whites and Blacks, the probability of using street drugs peaked at late-Boomers (born 1956-64), decreased afterward, then rose again for late-Gen X. For Hispanics, it has continuously increased since early Baby Boomers [5].

Why is American Health Declining?

Data from past decades showed that U.S. life expectancy began to lose pace with that of other countries starting in the 1980s. Historically this was the beginning of the opioid epidemic, the shrinking of the middle class, and the widening of income inequality. Maybe this is happening due to the lack of support for struggling families?

Studies suggest this is related to drug overdoses, suicides, alcohol-related illnesses, and obesity are largely to blame. 

The U.S. had been making steady progress. Life expectancy increased by nearly 10 years over the last half-century – from 69.9 years in 1959 to 78.9 years in 2016.

But the pace of this increase slowed over time, while other high-income countries continued to show a steady rise in life expectancy.

After 2010, U.S. life expectancy plateaued and in 2014 it began reversing, dropping for three consecutive years – from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017. This is despite the U.S. spending the most on health care per capita than any other country in the world.

To watch the full episode, click here 👇

TIME STAMPS:

00:00 – Intro
00:25 – Give us a follow, like, and share!
01:50 – Start of the show and topic intro
02:35 – What’s in a Tea?
04:41 – Fun facts about tea
07:41 – Flavonoids in tea
09:30 – Antioxidants in food
10:30 – Three drinks to consume
11:15 – The many potentials of drinking tea
12:51 – Becoming more conscious human beings
13:37 – Being conscious about what you put in your body
14:02 – How hypertension affects us
15:25 – Brain Health
19:07 – Health Decline in Gen X and Gen Y
21:57 – Life expectancy in the United States
23:30 – Factors that affect the health decline in the US
29:32 – No right or wrong in nature
30:25 – Dog Eat Dog World
33:57 – Why American Health is Declining
40:22 – Processed Food
43:47 – Be the Change
46:23 – It’s all about Marketing
46:41 – Moderation is Key
48:35 – The results of studies
51:08 – Our best interest
52:21 – It’s a wrap!

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