Drinking tea may improve your brain health

In a new study, researchers found regular tea drinkers have better organized brain regions—and this is associated with healthy cognitive function—compared to non-tea drinkers.

The researchers made this discovery after examining neuroimaging data of 36 older adults.

The research was led by a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS)

Past studies have shown that tea intake is beneficial to human health, and the positive effects include mood improvement and cardiovascular disease prevention.

For example, one study in 2017 showed that daily consumption of tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older persons by 50%.

Following this discovery, the team further explored the direct effect of tea on brain networks.

They recruited 36 adults aged 60 and above, and gathered data about their health, lifestyle, and psychological well-being.

The elderly participants also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The study was carried out from 2015 to 2018.

Upon analyzing 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.

The 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 organization.

As cognitive performance and brain organization are intricately related, more research is needed to better understand how functions like memory emerge from brain circuits, and the possible interventions to better preserve cognition during the aging process.

The team plans to examine the effects of tea as well as the bioactive compounds in tea can have on cognitive decline.

The lead author of the study is Assistant Professor Feng Lei.

The study is published in JAMA Cardiology.

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