Tea Protects Cognitive Function in the Elderly

A new paper has  highlighted the role of tea drinking on protecting brain function. Researchers tracked 957 people aged over 55 who all had normal cognitive function at the start and then assessed them a few years later as part of the Singapore Longitudinal Aging Study. They found that non-tea drinkers had almost twice the risk of developing neurocognitive disorder as consistent tea drinkers (11.1% vs 5.9%), and protection could start with just a few cups per week.

Interestingly, this study also looked at people who were carriers of the APOE ε4 gene, which is a gene variation that is linked with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers found that women and APOE ε4 carriers benefitted most from the protective effects of tea consumption.

As an important side note, in this paper cognitive decline was associated with higher rates of heart disease, depression and lower levels of social and productive activities, which previous research indicates might all share stress as an influencing factor.

Though the participants in this research were older Chinese adults the results are consistent with results with people from different backgrounds. As yet there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and much of the focus of research in this area is on understanding its causes and finding preventative strategies. Encouraging people to drink a daily cup or two of green, black or oolong tea could be an effective and affordable way to help protect brain function in aging.



L. Feng, M-S. Chong, W-S. Lim, Q. Gao, M. S. Z. Nyunt, T-S. Lee, S. L. Collinson, T. Tsoi, E-H. Kua, & T. -P. Ng. Tea consumption reduces the incidence of neurocognitive disorders: Findings from the Singapore longitudinal aging study. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 2016; 20 (10): 1002 DOI: 10.1007/s12603-016-0687-0