Drinking tea makes your brain healthier, according to NUS study

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SINGAPORE — Drinking tea can lead to a healthier brain, according to a recent study by the National University of Singapore (NUS).

According to a media release by NUS on Thursday (12 September), the study – led by Assistant Professor Feng Lei from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Department of Psychological Medicine – revealed that regular tea drinkers have better-organised brain regions compared to non-tea drinkers.

“Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organisation,” said Asst Prof Feng.

Past studies have demonstrated that tea intake is beneficial to human health, and the positive effects include mood improvement and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Examining data from 36 adults

The research was carried out from 2015 to 2018 by examining neuro-imaging data of 36 adults aged 60 and above, and was done with collaborators from the University of Essex and University of Cambridge. The findings were published in the Aging scientific journal on 14 June.

The research team gathered data about the older adults’ health, lifestyle, and psychological well-being. Participants also underwent neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Upon analysis, the research team found that individuals who consumed either green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way.

“When the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently,” explained Feng.

“We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. 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 organisation, brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.”

Next steps in understanding tea’s effects on brain

Following this discovery, Feng and his team plan to examine what effects tea and its bioactive compounds can have on mental decline.

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