The Best Drink to Prevent The Effects of Aging, New Study Says
While most of us aren't going to be as sharp in our old age as we were when we were younger, there are actions you can take to slow the process of cognitive decline. You can get daily exercise, stay connected with your friends and family, and make dietary choices that promote a healthy mind.
Now, new research finds that drinking tea could help fight off cognitive impairment and protect you from memory loss.
In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine's Department of Geriatric Psychiatry examined more than 1,500 Chinese residents ages 60 and up, comparing the results of cognitive assessments to information about how often they drink tea in a typical week. Researchers found that those who drink tea were less likely to experience cognitive decline.
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Additionally, over 100 of the participants underwent MRI scans in which researchers looked at how the size of different parts of their brain compared to their tea-drinking habits. They found that in the corpus callosum, the region of the brain that connects the left and right hemispheres and plays an important role in cognition, the posterior part was smaller in tea drinkers than non-drinkers.
The smaller this area was, the less participants' scores on an associative learning test changed as they aged—i.e., the less participants' associative learning abilities declined. So, tea may play a role in preserving brain function by affecting the size of the posterior corpus callosum.
"Studies like these – though helpful at expanding our knowledge – should never be taken as the gospel truth," SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD, cautioned in an interview with Eat This, Not That! "So many other lifestyle factors play a role, and adding tea won't overcome suboptimal lifestyle choices. Some other things you can do to help take care of your brain include exercising regularly, eating a nutritious, antioxidant-rich diet, and limiting free radical exposure from highly processed foods and smoking."
Plus, experts have identified a range of other lifestyle choices that could help you keep your mind sharp. You can make a point of continuing to learn new things throughout your life and participating in evidence-based brain training, you can treat hearing loss, and you can do your best to get a full night's sleep.
For more on how your diet affects your cognition, be sure to learn about the 30 Best & Worst Foods for Your Brain.