Since I have been drinking a lot of tea this month, and I am deep in research mode right now, I started looking into the health benefits of tea. Tea drinking was mentioned in the seminar I took that was put on by Universal Health Solutions called The Evolution of the American Diet: The Inflammation Super Highway. The speaker, Dr. David Johnson, mentioned that green, herbal and oolong tea are all really good for an anti-inflammatory diet.
My Personal History of Drinking Tea
My relationship with tea has been lifelong. I started drinking tea as a kid. We always had Lipton’s Blackberry tea in the house, and that stuff was good! I suspect my mom thought it was unusual for a kid to drink tea, but since it wasn’t sugary or bad for me, they just let me go.
In college, I turned from tea to coffee. My gateway coffee was the Black Cat at Kava House. (Oh, Kava House, we miss you.) It was a mocha with peppermint, whip cream, and chocolate sprinkles. It was far more like dessert than coffee but oh, so good! I can’t say I did the whole “stay up all night with tons of coffee cramming for a test thing.” Mine was more social. It was hanging out with college friends at coffee shops as long and as late as we could.
But perhaps I should have turned to green tea back then. I found some fascinating studies specifically on green tea and cognitive ability. (Remember when green tea was all the rage a while ago? I feel like you don’t hear about it as much, but the research is still out there.) For example, there was a study looking at green tea extract and its ability to help with memory tasks:
Our findings provide first evidence for the putative beneficial effect of green tea on cognitive functioning, in particular, on working memory processing at the neural system level by suggesting changes in short-term plasticity of parieto-frontal brain connections.
As reported in Psychopharmacology
It seems like I should have looked into green tea extract before all that college test taking!
After college and in my first real job, I moved away from coffee and back to my love of tea. In particular, I liked loose leaf tea in a French Press. I drank all kinds of teas, white, black and green, flavored, herbal – I like them all. I even bought a book on how to read tea leaves. (Something like this one.)
As I got older and moved into my late 30s, I went back to coffee drinking. I tend to like flavored coffees, but I drink them black. I have a cup in the morning and then one on the way into work.
Now I have added a cup of tea in the evening. My evening tea is typically a herbal blend, but I admit, some of this research is making some decaffeinated green tea look very appealing instead.
The interesting thing is that it doesn’t just seem to be anti-inflammatory. Tea, regardless if it is green, black, or oolong is good for the brain, no matter what your age.
The longitudinal study involving 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years or older has found that regular consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50 per cent, while APOE e4 gene carriers who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may experience a reduction in cognitive impairment risk by as much as 86 per cent.
Now, granted this was done in China on Chinese seniors. And I’m a long way from being considered a senior! Plus, as I have been learning in my Personalized Medicine class, it is would be a mistake to assume that just because this was true there that it would be true in other ancestries as well. More studies would have to be done, but it is interesting isn’t it?
I am blessed, I don’t have a history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in my family. However, who doesn’t know how devastating that disease can be? If tea can help, that would be wonderful. I love the idea of using natural remedies.
So, who knows? When my little experiment is done, I may stick with my evening tea habit.