Drinking Tea May Lower Dementia Risk

A very interesting study is being discussed in dementia circles right now. The National University of Singapore suggests that drinking tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50%.

drinking tea may lower dementia risk
Assistant Professor Feng Lei | photo credit: National University of Singapore

If that wasn't astounding enough, those who carry the APOE e4 gene (those genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease) may experience a reduction in cognitive impairment “risk” by as much as 86%. The research, led by Assistant Professor Feng Lei, was published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging back in December 2016.

Tea Drinking and Dementia

tea and dementia

The study involved 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years or older who were community-living, and their tea consumption volumes were documented between 2003 and 2005. Every 2 years following (until 2010), their cognitive functions were assessed/tested and those data were accumulated and published in this report. Other confounding factors such as exercise, medical conditions, social activities were also accounted for.

Based on current knowledge, this long term benefit of tea consumption is 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. -Assistant Professor Feng Lei, Department of Psychological Medicine at National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine


Interestingly, researchers 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.” Further follow-up is needed, and Dr. Feng's team will be looking further at breaking down the specific tea compounds, as well as the influence the asian diet has on healthy aging.

Which Tea is Best for You?

The Senior List® reached out to Dr. Feng to understand what surprises jumped out following the analysis of the data. “It was surprising that those who carry APOE e4, a risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease, benefit much more from drinking tea as compared with non-carriers. If this is true, we may use tea and bioactive compounds from tea as targeted prevention for APOE e4 carriers. However, we must do more research for a firm conclusion.”


Future Research

We were interested to hear about any future research that Dr. Feng and his team will be doing relative to healthy aging: “I am collaborating with my biochemist colleagues, Professor Barry Halliwell and Dr. Irwin Cheah, on a new cohort study that looks at the correlation between diet and healthy aging which will start soon in May 2017. We will measure bioactive compounds in tea and investigate how they are metabolized in the human body by studying their presence in the blood and urine of the participants, to find the correlation of these biomarkers to cognitive health. I also plan to conduct randomized controlled prevention trial to test whether tea consumption can delay cognitive decline among those who have high risk of future dementia.”

Are you a tea drinker? Does this research motivate you make tea part of your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. I have Cognitive Decline from 2015 by my Neurophysician. My Cognition Score last test was 20 on January 2020. 20 equal line between mild and moderate decline! I have been using black tea for some years. Currently drinking Blood Orange Tea.
  2. Very interesting articles, thanks a lot. I enjoy drinking Rooibus (or red bush) tea which is caffeine free, and I drink it without milk. Would this be within your categories of suitable teas too. Am I right in thinking that it will be as green tea is similarly caffeine free. Thanks

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