This popular beverage may keep your brain healthy
Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water, and it’s found in almost 80% of American households. Its popularity is probably due, in part, to its well-known health benefits, such as a lowered risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore studied more than 950 Chinese adults 55 or older, looking at their health and tea drinking habits over a period of seven years. In the end, they found that regular tea drinkers had half the risk of cognitive decline as compared to their non-tea drinking peers.
The study also identified participants carrying a gene associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. These participants saw an even more dramatic benefit, with an 86% lower risk of cognitive decline, as compared to their non-tea drinking peers.
Today, nearly 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
“Right now, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and we still don’t know exactly what causes it,” says Sue Harvey, Advocate nurse and coordinator of the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders program at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “It is important to note that cognitive decline is not necessarily the same as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. While drinking tea may help promote general brain health, we cannot say at this time that dietary changes will prevent Alzheimer’s.”
Researchers did not determine exactly how tea drinking prevented cognitive decline in study participants and suggest further research is necessary.
“Once someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, our goal is to help them maintain a good quality of life through medication, lifestyle changes and a healthy diet,” says Harvey. “Just the same, if there’s a chance drinking tea may help reduce the risk of dementia or cognitive decline as people age, I suppose there’s no harm in putting the kettle on.”
About the Author
Amanda Jo Greep is the manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest. She has more than ten years of experience in communications and public affairs and has worked with a variety of nonprofits and health care organizations. Jo holds a master's of public administration degree in health policy and management from New York University. In her spare time, she is a Girl Scout leader, runner and amateur genealogist.