Dementia: Doctor outlines changes to help prevent disease
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“Interesting enough there are studies saying the tea reduces inflammation, oxidative stress and there’s evidence from studies that tea catechins improve the clearing amyloid proteins that start to cause dementia,” said Dr Ruxton of the Health and Food Supplements Information Service.
A study carried out in 2018 by Kyoto University into the health benefits of tea catechins found: “Catechins known antioxidative effects may contribute to protection from neurodegeneration [and that] three out of four studies demonstrated positive effects of tea and tea-based dietary supplement treatments.”
As a result, Dr Ruxton said that tea could play a role in reducing the risk of someone developing dementia.
“I think we’re looking at prevention because what you’re trying to do is keep your brain as healthy has possible.”
This is reflected by a study in 2021 by University of Leeds and Central South University of Forestry and Technology in China, that looked at the effect of caffeine, also present in tea, on the brain.
This study concluded: “[B]ased on the results of epidemiological and experiment studies, moderate and regular caffeine consumption may help to prevent or delay the onset of AD [Alzheimer’s Disease].”
Part of tea’s potential for reducing the risk of developing dementia is it’s benefits for the cardiovascular system.
Dr Ruxton explained: “What we find is what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain because the brain is a very complex vascular system.”
“If you have poor vascular health in your brain that will contribute to cognitive decline and things like depression.”
This opinion too is reflected in recently published academic research.
Published earlier this year in the journal Nutrition and Food technology, the British study judged: “A reasonable conclusion from the available evidence is that including daily tea intake as part of a healthy habitual dietary pattern could be associated with lower cardiovascular risks.”
While this scientific research into the health benefits of tea has resulted in positive results, in most cases the teams behind this data have come to similar conclusions.
While the data suggests that tea can provide large scale health benefits, that more data is required as it requires a large burden of proof to say that a food stuff can or will provide a health benefit.
Furthermore, it requires a large burden of proof for a health body to say that people should consume or not consume a food to reduce their risk of a condition.
For now, the data is positive, and every study tells the scientists and the public something new, moving both closer future positive treatment outcomes.
What these studies do tell us with regard to the mental health benefits of tea is that they are more than just a cultural placebo.
Dr Ruxton said that this causes its own set of challenges: “The interesting thing about tea because it’s kind of part of our psyche so it’s very difficult when you’re studying tea to say is it the fact that it’s this familiar taste and ritual that then causes the psychological effect [but] it’s definitely physiological rather than societal.”
This raises a key question, which is healthier, tea or coffee? The question is put to Dr Ruxton.
“I wouldn’t want to pit them against each other, the only risk with coffee is having too much caffeine because you can get away with four to eight cups of tea depending on how strongly you make them.”
In the field of caffeinated competition, it’s even between coffee and tea. However, the health benefits they could provide mean that soon the tide could be turned on the conditions some think they could help treat.
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