Regular Tea Drinkers May Have Better Brain Structure Than Non-Tea Drinkers

The health benefits of tea have long been known to promote better health, from mood improvement to preventing cardiovascular diseases. Now, there is a new reason to add the beverage to your diet. 

A new study, published in the journal Aging, found that tea could help people get better organized brain regions. Researchers said daily consumption could reduce the risk of cognitive decline in elderly by 50 percent. 

“Our 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,” Feng Lei, an assistant professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, said. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed the effects of tea on 36 adults, aged 60 and above, from 2015 to 2018. The team asked participants about their psychological well-being, lifestyle and health.

The elderly also took neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Analysis of their cognitive performance and imaging results showed that the people who consumed tea four times a week for nearly 25 years had better interconnected brain regions compared to non-tea drinkers. Drinking green tea, oolong tea or black tea provided the benefits, Futurity reported Thursday. 

“Take the analogy of road traffic as an example—consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads,” Feng said. “When a road system is better organized, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently.”

The latest study supports findings of a research Feng conducted in 2017. The researchers previously found that daily consumption of tea could help elderly delay or reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Feng said the new findings highlight the positive effects of regular tea drinking, which prevented disruption to interregional connections and improved brain organization. 

The researchers plan to continue the study to further understand the effects of tea. Future efforts will also focus on bioactive compounds found in tea and how they delay cognitive decline.

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