Adopting Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: Can Drinking Tea Make a Difference?
When was the last time you could not find your keys, your wallet or your smartphone? After the age of 40, many of us notice a that our memory is not what use to be...welcome to aging!
Did you know that some simple lifestyle habits have been proven to delay memory loss and the other effects of aging on our brains? Just exercising regularly, managing our weight, reducing stress, sleeping better, and increasing our social connections can make a difference in how our brain functions. Adopting these healthy lifestyle habits also appears to reduce the risk of developing the most common forms of dementia.
Following a healthy diet appears to also be important and there is growing research that following the principals of the Mediterranean Diet, with increased daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and other seafood, virgin olive oil, and nuts can reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease.
There is also new research that indicates that individuals who consume at least a couple of cups of tea daily may have an increase in life-expectancy and a reduced risk of developing dementia. The increased life-expectancy is a very recent finding just published in 2022. The benefit associated with drinking 2 or more cups of tea a day appears to be due to a reduction in cardiovascular disease (heart disease and strokes). Some of the benefit may be due to other healthy lifestyle habits among moderate tea drinkers such as not smoking. However, even after accounting for healthier lifestyles, tea drinking was associated with approximately a 10% reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Even if one has not been a tea drinker in the past, there are also several clinical trials that confirm that starting to drink tea regularly lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. The results were consistent for both black and green tea.
Suffering from cardiovascular disease; or being treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol are all associated with an increased risk of developing dementia earlier in life. Accordingly, it should not beSuffering from cardiovascular disease; or being treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol are all associated with an increased risk of developing dementia earlier in life. Accordingly, it should not be surprising that if tea drinking appears to reduce cardiovascular disease or reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels there should also be increased protection from dementia.
New research completed by our team at McGill University demonstrates that among risk factors associated with developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, drinking tea on a regular basis is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia even among individuals who already have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
In other words, it appears there is something else that is important about tea drinking beyond this earlier research. Is it something in the tea, drinking tea instead of a can of soda loaded with sugar, or just the healthy lifestyle habit of taking a few minutes for yourself each day? No one knows.
If you would like to estimate your Healthy Brain Age, a new calculator based on the McGill team’s work will be available October 1, 2022. The calculator is free and registration is not required.
Hopefully, knowing how much you can reduce your risk of developing dementia will help you to exercise daily, sleep better, socialize more, and consider a cup of tea when you need a break.
- Written by Steven Grover, M.D, Professor of Medicine, McGill University.