Good news for those of you who aren't fans of coffee (we don't understand, but to each her own) but still want to reap the potential brain-protecting benefits of a warm beverage: Drinking tea is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's — especially in people who are genetically predisposed, according to new research from the National University of Singapore.
In the March 2017 study, researchers looked at the tea consumption of about 950 Chinese volunteers age 55 and over between 2003 and 2005. The researchers then assessed the number of volunteers who developed neurocognitive disorders like dementia between 2006 and 2010.
After comparing the two sets of data, the researchers found that the volunteers who drank tea regularly had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia. What's more, carriers of the APOE e4 gene (aka those who have a greater genetic risk of developing Alzheimer's), had as much as an 86 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's.
The best part? The type of tea doesn't appear to matter: The reduced risk was linked to any tea that was brewed from leaves, including green, black, and oolong.
The study only found a correlation — rather than direct cause-and-effect — between drinking tea and lower risk of cognitive impairment, but the researchers speculate that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in tea may be what help protect the brain from damage.
"Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention," study author Professor Feng Lei said in a press release. "Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory."
"Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world," Lei continued. "The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person's risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life."
So go ahead, get sippin'!