Whether consumed to calm the nerves, unwind or aid meditation, tea has long been celebrated for its relaxing and invigorating qualities. Nevertheless, scientists are only just now beginning to learn how tea exerts its effects on mood and cognition.
An article published by “Nature” outlines research that suggests that tea can lift mood, improve focus and perhaps even ward off depression and dementia.
Below are eight key takeaways from the studies mentioned.
- Reduces stress: Drinking tea lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Lowers risk for dementia: Drinking at least 100 milliliters (about half a cup) of green tea a day seems to lower the risk of developing depression and dementia.
- Improves focus: Tea’s antioxidant EGCG is thought to make people feel calmer and improve memory and attention.
- Promotes calm: L-theanine, another antioxidant in tea, has a similar effect to EGCG when consumed in combination with caffeine.
- Reduces risk for depression: In a recent study of a healthy Korean population, those who habitually drank green tea were 21 percent less likely to develop depression over their lifetime than those who were non-drinkers. This suggests that drinking tea is on a par with that of 2.5 hours of exercise per week.
- Improves memory: Long-term habitual consumption of green tea may reduce the risk of dementia. One study of people aged over 55 in Singapore, for example, found that those who drank as little as one cup of tea per week performed better at memory and information-processing tasks than did non-tea-drinkers.
- Relaxes the mind and body: In addition to tea’s nutritional components, simply preparing tea or enjoying it in a social setting can have relaxing effects on the body.
- Promotes recovery from stress: Tea can help people to recover more quickly from a stressful task.
The article stresses that though there is clear evidence of moderate improvements to mood in healthy populations, many studies are limited in a way that they have yet to clearly demonstrate that tea can help people with mental illness.
That said, in a world where access to mental health therapy is limited, and approximately around one-third of all people with anxiety and depression never find an effective therapy, tea could be a healthy and natural solution to improved mental wellness.