Tea for the brain
Tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed globally after coffee. It is the caffeine content of tea that makes it a popular drink. Different varieties of tea exist in the market. Traditional teas include
- black tea,
- white tea,
- green tea,
- purple, and
- oolong tea.
Black tea has the highest caffeine content followed by oolong tea and green tea. White tea and purple tea generally have a lower caffeine level. All these teas are derived from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis. What makes them different from each other is how they are processed. The processing makes their caffeine content rank higher or lower.
All kinds of teas made from Camellia Sinensis are believed to be good for the brain. Besides, it is hard to say which one is the best. You may select any one of them based on your taste preferences.
A Japanese study that was published in 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effect of daily consumption of green tea on over 1,000 Japanese people 70 years of age and older. The participants were tested for their memory, orientation, ability to follow commands, and attention spans and scored accordingly. Those who had green tea the most times were less likely to have problems in their cognition than people who consumed less frequently or did not consume green tea at all. This was not observed in people who consumed coffee, black tea, and oolong tea instead of green tea. The effect of green tea has also been demonstrated in experiments conducted on animals. The natural compounds in green tea, especially a chemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) along with caffeine, have shown a positive effect on animal brains.
Another 2019 study published in the journal Aging also found positive effects on an individual’s cognitive functions. The National University of Singapore conducted this study in which 36 adults 60 years of age and older were recruited from 2015 to 2018. The research team gathered data about their health, lifestyle, and psychological well-being. The elderly participants also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, before and after the consumption of tea. The research team found that the participants who consumed either green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had improved brain organization. The MRI showed specific interconnections in the brain regions that made the brain work efficiently.
According to the studies, black tea and green tea are believed to give healthier brains and delay age-related cognitive decline.
- This may be attributed to the caffeine and L-theanine content of the tea that also increases the focus and alertness of the brain.
- Antioxidants, such as polyphenols, present in the tea also play a role in reducing inflammation in the brain. Thus, tea helps prevent brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- However, you need to pay attention to the amount of tea you consume in a day. It also has inherent stress buster properties. It is generally recommended to not go over two cups a day.
- A higher intake of caffeine can make it harder for you to sleep at night and trigger gastritis. Lack of sleep, in the long run, can also have a bad impact on your brain health.
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Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, et al. Green Tea Consumption and Cognitive Function: A Cross-Sectional Study From the Tsurugaya Project 1. Am J Clin Nutr. February 2006;83(2):355-61. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16469995/