Drink Tea to Boost Brain Function, Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

By Amelia Harris

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

Cognitive decline is a serious concern for many people as they age, especially with more than 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease. But one study suggests that drinking tea regularly can improve your brain health. (1, 2)

Tea Improves Brain Health for Seniors

In a study out of the National University of Singapore (NSU), researchers explored how regularly drinking tea affects brain networks. The study was published in the scientific journal Aging on June 14, 2019. (2) 

Collaborating with individuals from the University of Essex and the University of Cambridge, the NSU team recruited 36 adults over the age of 60 for the study. Between 2015 and 2018, researchers gathered information on their lifestyle, health, and psychological well-being. Study participants underwent neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). (2)

Brain Region Connectivity

Researchers analyzed participants’ imaging results and cognitive tests. They found that those who drank black, oolong, or green tea at least four times per week for about 25 years showed positive cognitive differences from non-tea drinkers. Their brain regions were more efficiently interconnected. (2)

Assistant Professor Feng Lei, team leader of the study, offered an analogy to ScienceDaily to demonstrate their findings. He explained, “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 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.” (2)

This is not the first time Assistant Professor Feng Lei has studied the health benefits of tea. He also led a longitudinal study, published in 2017, that found that drinking tea daily can reduce seniors’ cognitive decline by 50%. (2)

“We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers,” Assistant Professor Feng Lei added. “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 organization brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.” (2)

Besides its positive impact on brain function, drinking tea comes with many other health benefits. It has been linked to lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It even tends to improve the tea drinker’s mood too. (2, 3)

Research Next Steps

These results are likely promising for those concerned about their own potential cognitive decline. Drinking tea is already a daily ritual for many, and it’s an easy habit to pick up.

“Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure,” says Assistant Professor Feng Lei, “and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organization.” (2)

However, more research is needed to further prove and explain how tea improves brain health. On a larger scale, research is needed regarding how memory is connected to brain circuits. It would also be beneficial to study various interventions to preserve cognitive health during aging. In the future, Assistant Professor Feng Lei and his team plan to explore how tea and its bioactive compounds impact cognitive decline. (2)

Article sources:

  1. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190912100945.htm
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea

About the author:

Amelia Harris is a writer and eco-activist, interested in health and all things esoteric, with a passion for sharing good news and inspiring stories. She is a staff writer for Wake Up World.