This popular beverage could help prevent the onset of the neurological condition.
Aging happens differently for each person, but it's a common fear for most that they'll be affected by cognitive decline as they get older. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 55 million people worldwide have dementia, with the number expected to rise to 78 million by the year 2030 and 139 million by 2050. Unfortunately, unlike cardiovascular disease, the steps towards keeping your brain in good shape can be less clear. But according to one study, there's evidence that drinking this one popular beverage every day can cut your risk of developing dementia in half. Read on to see what you should be putting in your cup more regularly.
Drinking tea every day could cut your dementia risk in half.
In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging in Dec. 2016, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore set out to examine whether or not regularly consuming tea could have an effect on the onset of dementia. To do this, the researchers gathered 957 participants from China aged 55 or older to conduct a longitudinal study.
Results found that those who drank tea every day saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 50 percent. In the case of participants who carry the APOE e4 gene that puts them at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, daily tea drinkers saw their risk of cognitive decline drop by as much as 86 percent.
The researchers concluded that tea could be an easy, inexpensive way to reduce the risk of dementia.
According to researchers, the results suggest that drinking tea every day could provide an affordable, easy way to combat the onset of a majorly crippling disease. "Despite high-quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive, and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory," Feng Lei, the study's author and an assistant professor from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said in a statement. "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."
Feng concluded: "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."
Any type of tea that's freshly brewed can carry the health benefits found in the study.
Researchers also found that health benefits from drinking tea weren't just limited to one type. Any freshly brewed leaves—including black, green, and oolong—were shown to have the neuroprotective effects found in the study.
"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," Feng explained. "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."
Separate studies have found other daily beverages can majorly boost brain health as well.
Other research has found that brain-health-boosting properties aren't just limited to tea. A 2018 study from the Krembil Brain Institute, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, set out to investigate the theorized connection between coffee consumption and a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's. The researchers decided to test the compounds found in different beans, including light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated coffee.
The team discovered that the beans contained phenylindanes, a chemical compound that prevents the buildup and clumping of proteins known as beta-amyloid and tau, which are known to lead to Alzheimer's. Since a longer roast leads to an increase in the amount of phenylindanes, the researchers concluded that dark roast coffee provided better protection against the neurological condition.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that the amount of caffeine—which has long been theorized to aid in preventing the onset of dementia—did not affect the outcome. "The caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests," Ross Mancini, PhD, a research fellow in medicinal chemistry, said in a statement. "So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine."