A regular tea drinking habit contributes to improved brain structure, making the organization of nerve cell networks more efficient, according to a study.
The researchers, including those from the National University of Singapore (NUS), recruited healthy older participants and divided them into two groups according to their history of tea drinking frequency. They investigated both functional and structural networks to reveal the role of tea drinking on brain organisation.
The study, published in the journal Aging-US, revealed that tea drinking suppressed asymmetry of the two brain hemispheres in their structural connectivity network.
However, the researchers did not observe any significant effects of tea drinking on the networking of nerve cells across functionally related centres in the two brain hemispheres.
The researchers said that individual constituents of tea have been related in earlier studies to the functions maintaining cognitive abilities, and to the prevention of cognitive decline.
However, they said that when a constituent of tea was administered alone, there was a degraded effect, or no effect, and a significant effect was observed only when the constituents were combined.
A review of tea effects on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, found that the neuroprotective role of herbal tea was apparent in eight out of nine studies, the researchers said. They added that while tea effects were well studied from the perspective of neurocognitive and neuropsychological measures, its direct effect on brain structure or function was less-well represented in scientific literature.
“In summary, our study comprehensively investigated the effects of tea drinking on brain connectivity at both global and regional scales using multi-modal imaging data and provided the first compelling evidence that tea drinking positively contributes to brain structure making network organization more efficient,” said Lei Feng, co-author of the study from NUS.