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Could Tea Give Your Brain And Mind A Gentle Wellness Lift

cup of tea amongst books

There has never been a better reason to pop the kettle on as new research just published in the Journal of Human Nutrition commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel shows how just 2-3 cups of black and green tea a day can help boost brain and mind health.

With the UK reporting 45 million cases of brain disorders annually and over a third of Europe experiencing a mental disorder, it’s time to take our brain and mind health seriously. 

This latest research review commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP; involving 557 study participants, explains that previous research focused primarily on green tea, however the latest studies analyse black, oolong and green tea, focusing on the benefits they provide for our brain, mental wellbeing and cognition.

Lead co-author, GP, Dr Gill Jenkins and an advisor to TAP adds: “All three teas contain thousands of different bioactive compounds, making them extremely beneficial for our mind. In fact, the aroma of inhaling tea can help reduce stress.

“In one study the inhalation of black tea aroma (Darjeeling and Assam) reduced salivary chromogranin-A levels (a stress marker) when participants were subject to 30 minutes of mental arithmetic stress.

“The various compounds within tea include alkaloids, flavonoids, amino acids such as L. theanine, vitamins A, C and K and phenolic acids.

“The amino acid L-theanine is a key component in black, oolong and green tea and works synergistically with caffeine, by thwarting the ‘jittery’ effect caffeine has on the body, whilst still helping to improve focus and reducing anxiety and stress.

“In fact, just 50mg of L-theanine was shown to provide benefits. As one cup of black tea provides around 20mg of L-theanine, just 2-3 cups of black tea a day led to participants showing improved attention and mental stimulation.  

“One study actually showed how higher levels of L-theanine and caffeine (100mg and 50mg respectively) lead to participants undertaking fewer errors during tasks than participants given placebo L-theanine and caffeine intervention.

Another amino acid, γ-Aminobutyric aminobutyric acid (GABA), is present in green tea leaves and has been found to reduce stress levels bought on by mental tasks.

Co-author, Dr Chris Etheridge adds: “Other Reviews say that green tea polyphenols can help reduce the risk of age-related neurodegeneration.

“An additional key component of tea, proven to help with mental wellbeing and brain health; epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

This is a type of antioxidant-filled polyphenol, demonstrated to provide anti-inflammatory actions, and is particularly prominent in green tea as well as oolong tea.

“According to research, the process of EGCG passing through the small and large intestine, could help in the reduction of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Plus, studies also show how EGCG could prompt a more attentive, relaxed state.”

A staggering two thirds of the world population are tea drinkers, so this promising research will be welcome news to most, who may now decide to reap the benefits of 2-3 cups of tea a day.

Especially as mental and neurological disease currently represent one of the greatest global burdens of disease.

Need more reasons to drink tea? Dr Gill Jenkins explains: “Studies have also shown how drinking 2-3 cups of tea a day has been linked to lower risks of type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease and cardiac death.

Dr Gill Jenkins does add that further work is needed with participants who have a diagnosed mental health condition such as clinical depression, before ‘firm conclusions’ can be made. Plus, the composition of teas can vary and fluctuate depending on climate, tea leaves, species, seasons and horticultural practices.

Despite this, the evidence is clear: 2-3 cups of tea a day may help alleviate stress and anxiety which is great news for our brain health, whilst keeping us focused and calm.

At a time when brain and mind wellbeing has never been a hotter topic, small additions like this to our day to day life could make a big difference.