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Originating as a medicine, and evolving into one of the world's most popular beverages, green tea is of the most well-researched natural substances in the world. New research adds to an increasingly impressive body of science showing the consumption of this herbal beverage has profoundly neuroprotective properties.
Drinking tea holds wide-ranging benefits to human health, with over 450 distinct conditions researched in the medical literature thus far and indexed on the GreenMedInfo Green Tea database. Neuroprotection is one of its most well known benefits, as evidenced by over 50 studies which you can view and share with others here. A new study conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS), evaluated brain imaging data of senior subjects. The researchers sought to add to the existing literature linking green tea consumption to improved brain function and found that regular tea drinkers had better organized brain regions - an established factor in healthy cognitive function - compared to non-tea drinkers.
Regular Tea Intake and Brain Organization in the Elderly
The NUS team, along with collaborators from the University of Essex and University of Cambridge, collected data on the health and lifestyles of 36 adults ages 60 and above. The elderly subjects also participated in neuropsychological tests and MRI during the study, which ran from 2015 to 2018.
The results: those who consumed green tea, black tea, or oolong tea at least four times weekly for around 25 years had their brain regions interconnected more efficiently.
The researchers considered their results the first evidence of tea consumption's positive impact on brain structure, suggesting a protective action against age-related cognitive decline.
To better understand this brain process, think of road traffic: the brain regions are the destinations, while the connections lying between those regions are the roads. A better organized road system makes for faster, more efficient movement among vehicles and pedestrians.
"Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently," said Feng Lei, assistant professor at NUS and the group's team leader.
The team plans to conduct further research on the intricate workings between cognitive health and brain organization, such as how memory and similar functions emerge from circuits in the brain, and how cognition can therefore be better preserved during aging.
Previous Studies Echo the Brain-Related Perks
Scientific findings regularly echo what has been known for so many years about tea, which has transitioned from medicine to a beverage enjoyed by billions of people worldwide.
A 2009 study vouched for the link between tea and better cognitive performance in elderly men and women. Results from more than 2,000 participants showed dose-dependent improvements in cognition among subjects who habitually consumed flavonoid-filled wine, tea, and chocolate.
In February, Japanese researchers discovered that long-term supplementation with Sunrouge, a Japanese green tea cultivar, helped prevent age-related cognitive decline in mouse subjects.
Sunrouge is green tea rich in flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant effects. A majority of green tea's health benefits is attributed to flavonoids such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and other bioactive components such as quercetin, myricetin, cyanidin, and delphinidin.
Besides being widely studied for its ability to slow the aging process, green tea has also been found to induce programmed cell death or apoptosis in different cancer cell lines, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, skin, gastrointestinal and, unsurprisingly, brain cancers.
Black tea is oxidized green tea, retaining significant medicinal properties including powerful antioxidant activity. Like its more celebrated cousin, black tea boasts of its own lineup of evidence-based health benefits.
In a previous article written by GreenMedInfo founder, Sayer Ji, titled, "Green Tea May Have Brain Healing Properties," an interesting mechanism was identified to account for some of the beneficial effects observed for green tea's neurologically enhancing effects. It has been theorized that polyphenols in green tea known as catechins boost our endogenous production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a so-called "neuritogenic" compound essential for the growth, maintenance and survival of neurons.
GreenMedInfo.com contains a wide range of studies on substances which have neuritogenic properties. You can see the full list here: https://www.greenmedinfo.health/pharmacological-action/neuritogenic
1. Junhua Li et al "Habitual tea drinking modulates brain efficiency: evidence form brain connectivity evaluation" Aging. 2019 Jun ; 11:3876-3890.
2.National University of Singapore. Retrieved October 8, 2019 from https://news.nus.edu.sg/research/drinking-tea-improves-brain-health
3. Eha Nurk et al "Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance" J Nutr. 2009 Jan ;139(1):120-7. Epub 2008 Dec 3.
4. Masafumi Wasai et al "Long-term dietary supplementation with the green tea cultivar Sunrouge prevents age-related cognitive decline in the senescence-accelerated mouse Prone8" Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2019 Feb ;83(2):339-347. Epub 2018 Oct 8.