Green tea may protect against dementia

Drinking green tea may be a way to stave off dementia, according to a new study. Scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts in the US found that chemicals called catechins that are present in the drink reduced the plaques in the brain that are strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The effects were similar to those associated with resveratrol, which is a compound found in blueberries, grapes and red wine. It’s possible that the anti-inflammatory properties of catechins and resveratrol are what’s responsible for their abilities to clear plaques.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and results in unusually high levels of proteins clumping together in the brain. Despite these proteins occurring naturally, it’s the volume of them that’s a problem and as they join up they form plaques that disrupt the functions of cells.

Dementia causes memory loss, confusion, mood swings and a loss of independence. A report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with the condition by 2040.

Scientists all over the world are conducting research into possible treatments, but so far no cure has been found. This has led to increased interest in lifestyle choices that can help reduce the chances of developing dementia in the first place.

The Tufts scientists looked at a range of compounds, including curcumin from turmeric, the diabetic medication Metformin, and citicoline, all of which helped to prevent plaques. In total, 21 different compounds were tested using a 3D neural tissue model.

Dr Dana Cairns, a research associate in the Tufts School of Engineering and leader of the study told the MailOnline: “We got lucky that some of these showed some pretty strong efficacy. In the case of these compounds that passed the screening, they had virtually no plaques visible after about a week.”

Green tea is known to be rich in flavonoids, which are known to reduce free radicals and improve blood flow in the brain. Since upping flavonoid-rich foods and drinks doesn’t have side effects, it’s something individuals can easily do to reduce their risk of developing dementia in the future. For those who don’t like the taste of green tea, berries and grapes are good alternatives.