A recent study by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that regular tea drinkers have better organized areas of the brain associated with healthy cognitive functions compared to those who do not drink tea.
The results of this study offer the first evidence of a positive contribution of tea consumption to brain structure and suggest that regular tea consumption has a protective effect against brain aging associated with brain loss.
The research was conducted with collaborators from the University of Essex and the University of Cambridge. The results were published in the scientific journal Aging.
Tea: areas of the brain are better interconnected
Previous studies have shown that drinking tea is beneficial to human health and its positive effects include improving mood, preventing cardiovascular disease and halving the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly.
For this new study, which examines in more detail the direct effect of tea on brain networks, the research team hired 36 adults aged 60 and over and collected data on their health, lifestyle and well-being. Older participants also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The study took place between 2015 and 2018.
After analyzing cognitive performance and imaging results, the research team found that people who consumed green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had more effectively connected areas of the brain.
Neural connections: as a road map
The results of the study can be understood using a simple picture. Take the example of road transport: think of brain areas as destinations, while connections between brain areas are roads.
When the road system is better organized, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when connections between areas of the brain are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently.
Previous studies have shown that tea drinkers have better cognitive function compared to those who do not drink tea. Current findings on the brain network indirectly confirm previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea consumption are: the result of improved brain organization resulting from the prevention of interregional connections.
Cognitive performance, memory, the more connections, the better
Because cognitive performance and brain organization are closely linked, further research is needed to better understand how functions such as memory originate in the brain, as well as possible interventions to better preserve cognition during the aging process. Professor Feng and his team intend to investigate the effects of tea as well as the bioactive compounds found in tea on cognitive decline.
Junhua Li et al. Usual tea drinking modulates brain efficiency: evidence from brain connectivity assessment, Aging (2019). DOI: 10.18632 / aging.102023
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