Healthy Living

Green Tea Improves Memory, Leading To Better Cognition: Brain Power Beverage For Dementia?

Woman drinking green tea
Is green tea the brain power beverage for dementia? Drinking a cup of green tea extract improves your memory by increasing connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In the morning, many tea drinkers consume black tea rather than coffee to achieve a caffeine high, as they benefit from its antioxidant-rich properties, but it may be time to trade in the black tea for some green tea. Known as the healthiest hot drink of choice, green tea, contains a high concentration of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Now, a recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found green tea isn’t just good for the body, but also for the mind, as it boosts brain power, possibly helping treat psychiatric disorders, such as dementia.

“Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain,” said Stefan Borgwardt, researcher, and professor from the Psychiatric University Clinics in Switzerland, in the press release. Green tea has been hailed for its many health benefits including its effects against cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, but Borgwardt and his research team along with Christoph Beglinger, professor at the University Hospital of Basel, and his colleagues believe green tea may have a beneficial impact on the brain’s cognitive functions. However, the exact mechanisms behind this claim have been unclear.      

The team of Swiss researchers sought to investigate whether the intake of green tea extract moderates effective brain connectivity during working memory processing and whether the connectivity parameters are related to task performance. Twelve healthy male volunteers received a milk whey-based soft drink containing 27.5 grams of green tea extract or a milk whey-based soft drink without green tea as control substances before they performed working memory tasks. The male participants also underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).                                                                                

The MRI was used to analyze how the green tea extract affected the brain activity of the men. The researchers used dynamic casual modeling to evaluate the effect of working memory on effective connectivity between the frontal and parietal brain regions. This would help the researchers identify the neural mechanisms that are responsible for the boost in brain power from drinking the extract.

The findings revealed the MRI showed increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain, according to Science Codex. In other words, the green tea extract increased the brain’s effective connectivity, which also led to an improvement in actual cognitive performance. The participants tested significantly better for working memory tasks upon drinking the extract.

The researchers noted, "modeling effective connectivity among frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing might help to assess the efficacy of green tea for the treatment of cognitive impairments in neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia.” This could revolutionize the way dementia and other similar disorders are treated.

In a similar 2012 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Chinese researchers found green tea affects the generation of brain cells, that can provide benefits for memory and spatial learning. The study focused on the organic chemical organic chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) a key property of green tea. EGCG is a known antioxidant, which the team believed can also have a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases.

As the world’s second most consumed beverage is gaining popularity for its health benefits, The Tea Association of the USA, has found annual supermarket sales have surpassed $2.2 billion and away-from-home consumption of tea has grown by at least 10 percent a year for a decade. The highly profitable product is consumed by 160 million Americans on any given day. When choosing tea, be sure to go for the green tea because apparently a cup of green tea a day can keep age-related degenerative diseases away.

 

Sources:

Beglinger C, Borgwardt S, Christin A, et al. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology. 2014.

Bai Y, Li M, Song M, Tao H, Wang Y. Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation and sonic hedgehog pathway activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2012.

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