Pop on the kettle

Tea drinking studies show lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes

Sitting down with a good cuppa is an enjoyable part of the daily routine for many of us. And now it even has the weight of science on its side with a new review of existing research showing tea can help prevent a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences examined more than 100 studies from around the world that have looked at tea consumption.

They found that black, white and green tea can reduce the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

The findings could offer some hope to the more than 65 million people expected to be living with Alzheimer’s disease by 2030.

Likewise, some 5.1 million deaths worldwide were attributed to diabetes in 2013, a figure that is growing annually.

Flavonoids key

ECU Centre for Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care Research Fellow Dr Fernando said the review offered new lines of enquiry for scientists.

“There is strong evidence that tea consumption can lower the levels of beta amyloid b (Aβ) in the brain, the build-up of which can cause Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

“In particular a number of studies have found that the flavonoid Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is found in tea, can reduce the levels of Aβ in the brain, which could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

Diabetes risk down

The researchers also examined the evidence that tea consumption could be protective against diabetes.

Both population-based studies as well as human clinical trials have shown a link between tea consumption and a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

One study found that drinking tea could result in a significant reduction in the symptoms of diabetes, including a 15-fold increase in insulin activity. Low insulin activity is a major risk factor for diabetes.

Next steps

“Overall, tea appears to offer a safe and acceptable approach toward lowering the risk factors associated with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr Fernando.

“What is needed now is more randomised, clinical trials which are placebo controlled using standardised doses to determine exactly the manner, type and amount of tea required to achieve these beneficial results.”

Lifestyle factors

ECU’s Centre for Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease Research and Care has also recently identified depression and trouble sleeping as potential risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Centre is also currently investigating if a combination of the spice circimun and fish oil can potentially delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.