Singapore: Drinking a cup of tea daily can reduce the risk of dementia, especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the debilitating disease, a new study has claimed.
The study involving 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years or older found that regular consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50 per cent, while those genetically at risk of Alzheimer’s disease may experience a reduction in cognitive impairment by up to 86 per cent.
Researchers at National University of Singapore (NUS) also discovered that the neuroprotective role of tea consumption on cognitive function is not limited to a particular type of tea – so long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black or oolong tea.
“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well,” said Assistant Professor Feng Lei from NUS.
“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,” said Lei.
Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from the 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, researchers said.
They said this long term benefit of tea consumption may be due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine.
These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.
In the study, tea consumption information were collected from the participants, who are community-living elderly, from 2003 to 2005.
At regular intervals of two years, these seniors were assessed on their cognitive function using standardised tools until 2010.
Information on lifestyles, medical conditions, physical and social activities were also collected. Those potential confounding factors were carefully controlled in statistical models to ensure the robustness of the findings.
The research was published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.