Did you know that drinking tea can improve brain health and help us live longer? Here’s what recent studies showed…
That morning cup of tea could be doing more for you than you realise – we all like a bit of a morning ritual and now there is even more reason for hitting the loose leaf than ever before. Previous studies on the effects of tea drinking have shown that habitual use can promote positive health effects such as cardiovascular disease prevention and mood improvement as well as longevity and lowered disease-caused death or illness. The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology published a study claiming that tea drinking three times a week, or more, is directly linked with living a longer, healthier life.
The necessity for the tea drinking to be habitual (three times plus per week) is that the beneficial properties, or bioactive compounds – polyphenols within the tea – cannot be stored within the body, and so need to be taken frequently to be continually effective.
A recent study shows that not only are the above benefits valid but tea drinkers also reveal better organised brain regions and healthier cognitive function. These results come from comparing habitual tea drinkers with non-tea drinkers via neuro-imagery.
Researchers from National University of Singapore alongside collaborators from the University of Essex and University of Cambridge, noted that “our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organisation.”
Team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, from the Department of Psychological Medicine at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, published a paper back in 2017 which showed that older people who habitually drank tea daily could reduce the risk of cognitive decline by as much as 50%!
Due to these results Asst. Prof. Feng and team went on to investigate the brain networks and how they may be affected by tea. They employed a 36 people-strong team of over 60 year olds and studied them over the course of three years.
The team’s results showed that “upon analysing the participants’ cognitive performance and imaging results, the research team found that individuals who consumed either green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way.”
“Take the analogy of road traffic as an example – consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently,” explained Asst. Prof. Feng.
He added, “We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.”
These are incredibly positive findings for those of us who worry that habitual tea drinking is potentially a bad thing, however, research does suggest that adding milk and sugar may dilute the effects, (some even suggest they negate them). The idea that we could be contributing to the longevity and effectivity of our brain function as well as reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and other negative physical issues, simply by having our daily cuppa, really will be making a lot of people’s day, literally! Put the kettle on….!
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