by William I. Lengeman III
Can a cup of tea be good for your brain? There have been a number of studies published over the course of the past few years that suggest that drinking tea might be beneficial to brain functions in a number of ways.
According to one recent study, the results of which appeared in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers found that some components of green tea could aid in preventing cognitive deficits that occur with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Rats with intermittent hypoxia (IH), which mimics OSA, were given green tea polyphenols. They performed “significantly better” at spatial learning and memory tasks than rats that weren’t.
In another study carried out in Singapore, researchers conducted a four-year project that looked at the effects of tea on brain functions. They discovered that the catechins in tea help protect brain cells from damaging protein accumulations and in the process helped to maintain cognitive capability. The study was carried out on 2,501 Chinese tea drinkers aged 55 and up.
A Japanese study, the results of which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, discovered that the catechins in green tea extracts helped to improve reference and working-memory related learning ability. Another Japanese study took a look at 1,000 Japanese people aged 70 and older. These test subjects were tested on a variety of tasks that indicated mental status. Those who reported drinking the most green tea were the least likely to show any cognitive impairment.
Additional research on the role of tea in brain functioning has centered on l-theanine or theanine, an amino acid found in tea. A study headed by John Foxe, a professor at the City University of New York, found that this particular component helps increase alpha brain-wave activity. The latter tends to induce a calmer and yet more alert state of mind. Which may help to explain why tea drinkers often experience a feeling of calm, in spite of the fact that the beverage contains caffeine.