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Benefits of tea for mental health and cognition

Tea has been soaring in popularity, especially among those looking to boost metabolism or anyone wanting a java-free caffeine kick. Meanwhile, researchers have been exploring the possible benefits of tea for mental health and cognition.

Tea contains many plant polyphenols, catechins, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals, and while they’re usually associated with boosting metabolism and warding off cancer, in fact, they may be just as beneficial for the brain and cognitive health.

Caffeine is probably the best known brain-booster found in tea. It’s effects are immediate: increased alertness, wakefulness, and attention. Uniquely, tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine which is more calming — it relaxes without inducing drowsiness. Caffeine and L-Theanine are a naturally-occurring pair found only in tea, which is why tea has been the drink of choice for monks needing concentration and focus when settling into a long meditation.

Consuming this combination of caffeine and L-Theanine (in extract form) has been found to help reduce mental fatigue while increasing reaction time and working memory. When taken over time (e.g., 16 weeks) this combination also helped with improvements in memory and cognitive alertness.

But of course, caffeine and L-Theanine are not the only compounds present in tea that may boost brain function — various catechins exert a positive influence, as well. Some preliminary evidence even suggests drinking tea can decrease the risk of dementia.

Scientists have found that the green tea catechins can prevent cognitive dysfunction, improve working memory, and prevent negative changes in the brains. One specific tea catechin, known as Theogallin, was tested in conjunction with L-Theanine and was found to be cognitive enhancing and anti-depressive.

If you need to be focused, alert, have a quick reaction time, maintain short-term memory, accurately process information, and want to be in a good mood, opt for a few cups of tea. If, over the course of your life, you want to maintain cognitive function and memory, prevent a decline in brain function, and avoid memory loss, then drink tea regularly throughout your life. This may be particularly helpful if you have metabolic-related issues (such as Type-II Diabetes).


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