Matcha has been used for hundreds of years as a ceremonial drink to enhance wellbeing. It’s packed full of antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients, and many would argue that it’s the healthiest drink in the world. Similar to your standard green tea, matcha is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the key difference is that matcha contains the nutrients from the entire leaf of the plant. It’s also grown in an environment that not only increases the production of chlorophyll, but it also boosts the amino acid profile and the caffeine content. This gives matcha an incredibly unique nutrient profile, which is linked to an impressive amount of health benefits. From glowing skin to boosting energy levels naturally, matcha is your one-stop-shop when it comes to up leveling your health.
With low immunity on the rise after the ongoing pandemic, you may be wondering if including matcha in your diet is an effective way to boost your immunity (spoiler alert: it most definitely is!) Let’s take a look at some of the key ways matcha aids in supporting your immune system, to help your body build resilience to those nasty infections.
Packed-full of antioxidants
Matcha contains a huge amount of antioxidants, around 137 times more than you’ll find in your standard green tea. It even contains more antioxidants than some of the highest food sources, including berries, dark chocolate, broccoli and spinach. With its unique nutrient profile, matcha contains a special compound called EGCG, or Epigallocatechin gallate. This unique plant compound is responsible for many of the disease fighting actions that matcha is so well-known for.
As a potent antioxidant, the most effective way that EGCG works to fight disease is by reducing inflammation within the body. Inflammation is what the body creates to protect us from disease or infection. It’s a healthy response to any threats to our immune system, and it’s often resolved within a week or two in most acute cases. Chronic inflammation on the other hand is a different story. This type of inflammation is the constant, low level inflammation that often lasts a lot longer and worsens overtime. There are many everyday factors that contribute to this low-level inflammation, like following a processed diet, prolonged stress and excess alcohol. These sources of inflammation can have a dramatic impact on our physical health, and they can dampen our immunity by constantly alarming our inflammatory response.
This is why reducing your inflammatory load and increasing those antioxidant rich foods is so integral for boosting immunity! As an incredible source of antioxidants, EGCG works to protect your cells from the free radical damage caused by inflammation.
A powerful stress reliever
Speaking of inflammation, stress is actually a huge trigger when it comes to our inflammatory response. Emotional or psychological stress tips us into a state of ‘fight or flight’, which is fueled by stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Our fight or flight response is meant to be short lived, and historically it was only triggered in times of real danger (aka, a tiger chasing you).
In today’s world, with so much stimulation and high stress, our fight or flight response is triggered constantly throughout the day. In this state, the body devotes all energy and resources to running from the perceived danger. Meanwhile, all of our body systems that can’t support us in immediate danger are basically shut down for the time being - think, our digestive system or reproductive system (hello, IBS and hormonal imbalances). It’s when we’re in this stressed state often that contributes to a chronic inflammatory response, which dampens our immunity. So how does matcha help? Enter: L-theanine.
L-theanine is the incredible amino acid found in matcha that provides some pretty impressive effects on the body. Not only does L-theanine aid in reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but it also increases focus and clarity. By reducing our body’s response to psychological stress, L-theanine works to reduce our inflammatory load and keep those stress hormones at bay - which ultimately takes a huge burden off our immune system, and allows our body’s natural fighters to do their thing if and when it’s necessary.
Immune-boosting plant compounds
Because of the unique way that matcha is harvested, the end result means that matcha powder is naturally packed full of potent plant compounds that are incredibly beneficial for our health. Chlorophyll is the powerful plant compound that is responsible for more than just providing matcha with that bright green pigment. Chlorophyll is rich in minerals, it’s an incredible detoxifier and it works to effectively stimulate the immune system. Matcha is one of the richest sources of chlorophyll you can find - so your morning brew might just double as your wholefood multivitamin!
Keeping your immune system in top-top shape year round will give you the best chance at fighting those infections when the cooler seasons roll around. Our immune system protects our body as a whole, and doing what you can to support your immunity in your every-day is one of the best things you can do for your health!
Learn more about how to uplevel your wellbeing with matcha here