Reduce Dementia Risk by Drinking Tea Regularly

 tea for dementia

 

Are you one of those who enjoy a daily cup of tea? If so, you’re not alone. Tea is a popular beverage consumed daily in more than 160 countries.

And you’d be happy to know that drinking tea goes beyond a simple daily indulgence. Scientists are examining how tea exerts its effects on mood and cognition. They even concentrated on the neuroprotective benefit of tea and its potential to prevent dementia.

 

What is Dementia 

Dementia symptoms include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, or language. It also involves changes in mood, perception, or behavior. 

With the accelerated aging population in the world, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are increasing over time. The World Alzheimer Report has shown that the number of people with dementia worldwide was 46.8 million in 2015, and it will be 131.5 million in 2050. 

It is important to note that dementia is not a natural part of aging. All types of dementia are caused by diseases that affect the brain. And yes, there are risk factors that you can’t control, like genes; but there are still many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia. 

One such way is drinking tea daily. But how can tea help? To understand that, we must first look at the main tea components.

 

Main Tea Components 

 

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): 

The majority of catechins present in tea are epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which is a type of polyphenol. (1) 

Research has found that EGCG increases the production and activity of essential antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. (2)

EGCG has been shown to protect the brain and prevent cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s.


Caffeine: 

Caffeine can enhance aerobic athletic performance. It can also increase lipolysis, which is the breakdown of stored fat into free fatty acids that can be used for energy. (3) (4)

 

L-Theanine: 

L-theanine has anti-anxiety effects and can increase mental sharpness. (5) It can cross the blood-brain barrier via the leucine-preferring transport system.

Also, L-theanine improved neurotransmitters in the brain: GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. (6) 

In a double-blind, controlled trial, L-theanine improved stress response in 12 undergraduate men. (7) 

When L-theanine is combined with caffeine, it counteracts its adverse effects, increasing focus and reaction time and improving working memory. (8) (9)



Neuroprotective Effects and Mechanisms of Tea Polyphenols 

The brain, the most oxygen-consuming organ in the body, is easily damaged by oxidative stress, such as free radicals and redox-active metals (10). Tea polyphenols are natural antioxidants with radical-eliminating capacity. 

In addition, EGCG has been reported to scavenge free radicals by directly or indirectly blocking free radical chain reactions, activating intracellular antioxidant enzyme activity, chelating metal ions (11), reducing lipid peroxidation (12), and releasing intracellular calcium (13)

Also, much evidence has indicated that tea polyphenols exert a neuroprotective role in neurodegenerative diseases through their antioxidant properties and the regulation of signaling pathways.

A variety of intracellular signaling pathways play an essential role in the neuroprotective effect of EGCG, including protein kinase C (PKC). 

PKC is related to merging different kinds of memories (14) and activated PKC has been shown to prevent the toxic effects of induced amyloid-beta on hippocampal neurons. In other words, the activation of PKC by EGCG may serve as a treatment for the aging brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease. (15) (16)



Epidemiological Evidence 

Many population-based studies have shown that drinking tea is related to a lower risk of cognition impairment. 

A follow-up study for 5.7 years involving 13,645 Japanese over 65 years old showed that green tea consumption significantly reduced the risk of dementia. (17) 

Another study among 278 Parkinson’s disease patients revealed that the onset of Parkinson's was delayed by 7.7 years when tea consumption was more than 3 cups a day. (18)


Another study of people over 55 in Singapore found that those who drank as little as one cup of tea per week performed better at the memory and information-processing tasks than non-tea drinkers. (19)

Many meta-analysis studies have also shown that tea intake has neuroprotective effects. For example, data from 26 previous observations, including 52,503 participants, showed that daily tea consumption could significantly lower the risk of cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and mild cognitive impairment in the elderly. (20) 

A study including 34,4895 participants showed that daily consumption of 2 cups of tea a day decreased Parkinson’s disease risk by 26%. (21)



Conclusion 

The medicinal value of tea has been the subject of many studies to test its effects on everything from stress levels to diabetes

In addition, tea is easy to make, whether you brew tea leaves or use bagged tea. And you can easily find your favorite flavor and add it to your daily diet.

So if you’re a tea drinker, you can gain the potential of these excellent benefits. 


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References

(1)Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): Chemical and biomedical perspectives (nih.gov)

(2)Understanding the broad-spectrum neuroprotective action profile of green tea polyphenols in aging and neurodegenerative diseases - PubMed (nih.gov)

(3)Caffeine as a lipolytic food component increases endurance performance in rats and athletes - PubMed (nih.gov)

(4)The effects of different doses of caffeine on endurance cycling time trial performance - PubMed (nih.gov)

(5)L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state - PubMed (nih.gov)

(6)The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent - PubMed (nih.gov)

(7)L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses - PubMed (nih.gov)

(8)The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood - PubMed (nih.gov)

(9)The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood - PubMed (nih.gov)

(10)Free radicals and antioxidants in normal physiological functions and human disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

(11)Neuroprotective molecular mechanisms of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate: a reflective outcome of its antioxidant, iron chelating and neuritogenic properties - PubMed (nih.gov)

(12)Protective effect of green tea polyphenol EGCG against neuronal damage and brain edema after unilateral cerebral ischemia in gerbils - PubMed (nih.gov)

(13)EGCG attenuates AMPA-induced intracellular calcium increase in hippocampal neurons - PubMed (nih.gov)

(14)Protein kinase C overactivity impairs prefrontal cortical regulation of working memory - PubMed (nih.gov)

(15)Protein Kinase C Activation as a Potential Therapeutic Strategy in Alzheimer's Disease: Is there a Role for Embryonic Lethal Abnormal Vision-like Proteins? - PubMed (nih.gov)

(16)The aging brain, a key target for the future: the protein kinase C involvement - PubMed (nih.gov)

(17)Green tea consumption and the risk of incident functional disability in elderly Japanese: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study - PubMed (nih.gov)

(18)Smoking and tea consumption delay onset of Parkinson's disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

(19)Cognitive function and tea consumption in community dwelling older Chinese in Singapore - PubMed (nih.gov)

(20)Meta-Analysis of the Association between Tea Intake and the Risk of Cognitive Disorders - PubMed (nih.gov)

(21)Dose-response meta-analysis on coffee, tea and caffeine consumption with risk of Parkinson's disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

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