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Can a daily cup of tea shield us from dementia?

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Drinking tea reduces the risk of cognitive impairment by 50 percent—and as much as 86 percent for older adults who have a genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease—a study of 957 Chinese seniors 55 and older shows.

“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well. Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory,” says Feng Lei, assistant professor of psychological medicine at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

“Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.”

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For the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, older adults provided information on the amount of tea they drank from 2003 to 2005. The researchers assessed them on cognitive function every two years until 2010. They also collected data on lifestyle, medical conditions, and physical and social activity.

Long-term benefits are due to the bioactive compounds in the leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine, Feng says.

“These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still very limited so we do need more research to find out definitive answers.”

Source: National University of Singapore