Nav: Home

Study led by NUS scientists show that drinking tea improves brain health

September 12, 2019

A recent study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that regular tea drinkers have better organised brain regions - and this is associated with healthy cognitive function - compared to non-tea drinkers. The research team made this discovery after examining neuroimaging data of 36 older adults.

"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 organisation," explained team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, who is from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

The research was carried out together with collaborators from the University of Essex and University of Cambridge, and the findings were published in scientific journal Aging on 14 June 2019.

Benefits of regular intake of tea

Past studies have demonstrated that tea intake is beneficial to human health, and the positive effects include mood improvement and cardiovascular disease prevention. In fact, results of a longitudinal study led by Asst Prof Feng which was published in 2017 showed that daily consumption of tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older persons by 50 per cent.

Following this discovery, Asst Prof Feng and his team further explored the direct effect of tea on brain networks.

The research team 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 analysing 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.

"Take the analogy of road traffic as an example - consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, 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," explained Asst Prof Feng.

He added, "We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections."

Next step in research

As cognitive performance and brain organisation 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 ageing process. Asst Prof Feng and his team plan to examine the effects of tea as well as the bioactive compounds in tea can have on cognitive decline.
-end-


National University of Singapore

Related Cognitive Decline Articles:

More amyloid in the brain, more cognitive decline
A new study from the Center for Vital Longevity at The University of Texas at Dallas has found that the amount of amyloid plaques in a person's brain predicts the rate at which his or her cognition will decline in the next four years.
Elevated brain amyloid level associated with increased likelihood of cognitive decline
Among a group of cognitively normal individuals, those who had elevated levels in the brain of the protein amyloid were more likely to experience cognitive decline in the following years, according to a study published by JAMA.
Cognitive decline after surgery tied to brain's own immune cells
After undergoing surgery, elderly patients often experience cloudy thinking that can last for weeks or even months.
Insulin resistance may lead to faster cognitive decline
A new Tel Aviv University study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease finds that insulin resistance, caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity, is also linked to a more rapid decline in cognitive performance.
Insulin resistance may lead to faster cognitive decline
A new Tel Aviv University study finds that insulin resistance, caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity, is also linked to a more rapid decline in cognitive performance.
More Cognitive Decline News and Cognitive Decline Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...