Dr. Feng at the University of Singapore conducted a study of 957 elderly Chinese people who were screened for their ‘brain fitness’ before the start of the process. They were monitored from 2003 and it is thought that his findings could apply to other races as well. It showed that a regular consumption of tea (even just a couple of cups a day!) could reduce the risk of developing dementia by 50%. Also in people who carry the genetic variant APOE-e4 (which puts them at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease) their risk reduced by a staggering 86%. The study showed that it didn’t matter which variety of tea was drunk as long as it was brewed from the leaves (green, black or oolong). The bioactive chemicals found in tea leaves are catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine. These chemicals are known to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. It is also believed that the polyphenols found in tea could work in combination with these chemicals in two ways: firstly by preventing oxidation of brain cells; and secondly by blocking the build-up of brain deposits, called plaques. These plaques are thought to be the main inhibitors to proper brain function and lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s. The coffee drinkers didn’t show any significant brain benefits.
So not only could the caffeine give you a boost in the morning but the other potential benefits could keep your brain functioning better well into old age! Good news for us Brits who consume 168 million cups of tea a day!