Daily tea consumption reduces risk of cognitive decline


It looks like a cup of tea a day may keep dementia away.  This news is from a recent longitudinal study involving 957 Chinese men and women aged 55 and older who participated in the Singapore longitudinal aging study lasting for two years. 

Specifically found was that regular daily consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50%.  Even better news was that those who are carriers of the APOE e4 gene that places a person at a genetically higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, could possibly experience a reduction in cognitive impairment risk by as much as 86%.

Another important discovery was that it didn’t matter what type of tea a person consumes as long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black, or oolong tea.  Therefore, the neuroprotective role of tea consumption on cognitive function was not limited to a particular type of tea. 

At this time, the exact cause of most neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, remains unknown.  This study is not the first to suggest that tea appears to be excellent for brain health.  Other past studies have also found the benefits of drinking tea for protecting the brain.  What is different about this study is that it finds that all tea – green, black or oolong - produced the same effect of reducing neural degeneration whereas past studies have always advocated the positive effects of just green tea.

During the research, scientists measured tea consumption for two years. They then measured cognitive function using a standardized tool for seven years. Confounding factors such as physical activity and medical conditions were controlled in statistical models.  The researchers believe that even though only Chinese elderly were studied, that most likely these results would apply to all races. Scientists at the University of Leeds found that treating proteins with green tea stopped amyloid clumping, which is a believed mechanism that causes brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients to die.  Another 2016 Spanish study found that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound in green tea, improved brain function in those with Down Syndrome. 

The Singapore Longitudinal aging study led by assistant professor Feng Lei, believes that the bioactive compounds in tea leaves such as theaflavins, catechins, and L-theanine, produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the brain, which help protect the brain from neurodegeneration and possible vascular damage. 

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.  The consumption of this beverage on a regular basis is a good habit for the vast majority of people as it has almost no harmful side effects. 

In the meantime, it should motivate all of us to brew ourselves a cup of tea each day for preserving and protecting our brain health.