Drinking tea is linked to a dramatic reduction in the risk of cognitive impairment in older people, new research suggests.
A single daily cup of tea reduces cognitive decline in those over 55 by 50%, the Chinese study found.
Among those with a genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, though, this risk reduction increased to 86%.
It did not matter which type of tea people consumed: green, black or oolong.
The only thing that mattered was that the tea was brewed from tea leaves.
Dr Feng Lei, the study’s first author, said:
“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well.
Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention.
Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory.
Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.
The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.”
For the research, 957 Chinese people were followed from 2003 to 2005.
They were regularly tested for signs of cognitive ageing.
Dr Feng explained why tea is likely to be beneficial:
“Based on current knowledge, this long term benefit of tea consumption is due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine.
These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.
Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still very limited so we do need more research to find out definitive answers.”
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The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging (Feng et al., 2016).