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How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

If you are a green tea fan but have not tried matcha green tea, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on! Matcha is a very concentrated form of green tea which adds the leaves, in powdered form, directly to your drink so that you get the full benefit of its many nutrients and active compounds. Below is your guided tour of one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a form of green tea that originated in China in the 9th century, but became extremely popular among the monks of Japan in the 1300’s and has played an integral role in the Japanese tea ceremony for more than 900 years, valued as a part of meditation practice.

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There are major differences in the way this tea is produced, harvested and even brewed. The plants used to make matcha are called tencha plants, and they are grown in the shade, harvested by hand, then steamed, stored and at last ground into a lovely emerald green powder that is used to make the matcha tea drink. This varies from the traditional methods of green tea making, where leaves are infused in water and then discarded before drinking. In other words, when you drink matcha, you are actually drinking down the pulverized leaf!

What are the Health Benefits of Matcha?

One of the reasons why matcha is becoming so popular is that it offers a wide variety of health benefits for people who drink it regularly. For one thing, it provides a wide variety of nutrients, including an impressive selection of vitamins (A, B, C, E and K), important trace minerals, active phytochemicals like catechins and chlorophyll and amino acids like L-theanine.

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Many of these active compounds have powerful antioxidant properties. Because of its unique blend of these antioxidants, green tea has been linked to positive outcomes for a number of serious chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. In several clinical studies, it has also proven to have anti-cancer properties, particularly against cancer of the breast, but also against colon and bladder cancer.

The combination of caffeine and catechins (which are also antioxidant compounds) has made it popular among those who wish to use it to help boost weight loss. Both active ingredients are known to help boost the metabolism and in several studies, green tea has been linked to the faster breakdown of fat, especially the visceral fat that can build up around organs like the liver and cause serious health problems later on.

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How Do You Use Matcha?

Matcha is available in the United States in the form of a bright green powder or as already-prepared drinks. You can drink it in a hot, cold or frozen drink. You can also use the powder in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes, including dishes like matcha puddings, muffins and ice cream as well as matcha soups, sauces and stir-fries.The possibilities are virtually endless — and once you get comfortable with its flavors, you can learn to experiment and make dishes up that are all your own.

If you are brewing matcha on your own, the techniques is slightly different than if you are making regular green tea. Bring water to a boil in a kettle, but let the water cool for about ten minutes. Add the matcha powder to your teacup, pour the water in, stir and let it steep for a minute before enjoying.

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Are There Any Drawbacks to Matcha?

As great as matcha is, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before you indulge yourself:

Matcha does have a strong flavor (stronger than regular green tea) and usually needs to be sweetened. You can use honey as a more natural alternative to sugar, but this will still add calories to the drink, which can be a drawback if you are wanting to drink it to help with weight loss.

Even high-quality, organic green matcha tea can be contaminated with lead: this happens because the tea plant draws it up naturally from the soil. Most of the lead then moves into the leaves and since matcha tea uses the leaves directly in the drink instead of infusing them, it is believed that it can contain up to 30 times the amount of lead as regular green tea. For this reason, matcha should only be enjoyed once a day and not given to children.

So if you are already a fan of green tea and would like to take it to the next level, try some today. It can be purchased at health food stores as well as some regular supermarkets and is a great, tasty beverage to add to  your overall healthy lifestyle.

More by this author

Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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