If you’d like your brain to function more effectively—and who wouldn’t?— I’ve got some good news for you.
There’s an easy, enjoyable, affordable, at-home way to improve memory and cognition. Even better, it takes only a few minutes of your time, a few days a week.
In addition, this simple brain booster can lift your mood, help prevent heart disease, reduce the likelihood of cancer, and even extend your life. Sound good?
Here’s what to do…
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is far from impossible, it’s very simple – drink tea.
Ancient Health Remedy Popularized by Kings
The tea-drinking habit dates back to the Shen Nung dynasty in China over four-and-a-half thousand years ago. According to legend, Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. Tea quickly grew in popularity, especially when Chinese healers discovered tea’s medicinal properties.
Later, Chinese healers brewed tea with other plants and herbs, such as onion, ginger, orange or peppermint. Not to mention a number of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs unheard of in the U.S.
In fact, if you visit a Traditional Chinese Medical Doctor (TCM) today for an illness, you’ll likely receive bitter tasting tea as part of your prescription!
When modern science ushered in research on the health benefits of tea, scientists quickly proved tea’s value as an ancient medicinal remedy. Science linked consumption of black, green and oolong teas to a lower risk of disease, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, when it comes to memory loss, most tea studies performed to date use neuro-psychological tests alone to measure changes in cognition. So recently, researchers at the National University of Singapore, together with two English universities, decided to go one step further.
Their study would include brain scans to evaluate the effects of tea on brain networks that direct different systems of the body. What they found is remarkable…
Reduces Brain Aging in Clinical Study
Researchers recruited 36 men and women aged 60 or more, and assembled data on their health, lifestyles and psychological well-being. Then researchers performed a range of cognitive tests and MRI brain scans.
The research team found those who drank either black, green or oolong tea at least four times a week for 25 years had brain regions that were interconnected more efficiently than those who rarely or never drank tea.
“…our study…provided the first compelling evidence that tea drinking positively contributes to brain structure, making network organization more efficient. [This] suggests that tea drinking is effective in preventing (slowing) or ameliorating cognitive decline and that tea drinking might be a simple lifestyle choice that benefits brain health.”
To make clear the implications of these findings, lead author, Assistant Professor Feng Lei, put it this 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 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.”
He also added that reductions in these “road systems” or inter-regional connectivity are linked to brain aging.
Lowers Cognitive Decline by Half
This is not the first tea study carried out by Professor Feng, but one of many over more than a decade.
In 2016 he led a study showing that daily consumption of tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older persons by an incredible 50 percent.
And for those folks who carry the APOE e4 gene that gives them a greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, the news is even more exciting: Their risk was lowered by as much as 86 percent. All from drinking a few cups of tea each week!
I have to say, this research is more promising than anything I’ve seen from Big Pharma drug studies. What’s more, tea doesn’t have any of their terrible side effects! The worst that can happen is that you may feel too wired, or have trouble sleeping, if you drink too much.
So, Exactly How Does Tea Improve Brain Health?
Studies suggest tea’s positive effects on the brain come from three key ingredients:
Caffeine – shown to enhance cognitive performance.
L-theanine – an essential amino acid that helps lower stress and supports healthy motor function.
Catechins – a class of antioxidants that reduce inflammation and improve different aspects of memory.
This research begs a question on the value of tea extract supplements. Over the last couple of decades natural health doctors have prescribed tea extracts – mainly from green tea – to aid in immune function, cardiovascular health, and yes, stress reduction and memory improvement. Among the most popular and well-researched is EGCG, an antioxidant catechin found in green tea.
Test-tube, animal, and a few human studies indicate that extracts of EGCG provide numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved heart and brain health.
When it comes to an L-theanine supplement, there is some concern one class of medication used for Alzheimer’s disease, called NMDA antagonists, could interact with L-theanine and lose its potency.
I’ve seen some studies suggesting that green tea supplements may carry some risk of toxicity because the active ingredients are too concentrated. This is no problem at all with the beverage.
Whether you choose to add tea extract supplements to your daily regimen or not, I think we can all agree that drinking tea is a good thing for the brain. In fact, it’s time for me to go fill the kettle and enjoy a nice, hot cup of green tea.