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How Japanese Green Tea and Matcha Tea Powder Benefit your Brain Health

Nicholas Noble | October 27, 2019

Matcha tea and fine Japanese loose-leaf teas may be giving the idea that “two heads are better than one” a run for its money.

A prominent study cited throughout the last year measured the brain health of tea drinkers is some of the latest evidence suggesting cognitive benefits and mental longevity from tea drinking.

Introducing: The Brain Benefits of a Daily Tea Habit

Not only did the research compare the brains of tea-drinkers and not, it similarly measured the benefits from tea-drinking compared to other caffeine sources like coffee [1], in order to control for whether it's solely caffeine.  

Types of Brain Benefits from Matcha Tea

The research was the first of its kind to use something known as “neuroscientific graph theory” to measure important changes in the brains of those who drink tea. Examples of those measurements included changes both: 

  • Functional – How the brain behaves and communicates with itself.
  • Structural – How the brain anatomically changes in response to tea drinking, ultimately influencing function (and vice versa).

Able to map out the brain in clearer ways than before, researchers were able to bring credence to cognitive benefits of tea (e.g. matcha and other fine Japanese teas) which were previously only suggested.

But first to be brief, it’s now thought that the regular consumption of high quality teas may improve the connectivity of the brain, as both structural and functional changes were suggested as long-term benefits [1].

Keep reading for the whole story:

Your Brain on Tea: Japanese Matcha Tea and Brain Health Benefits

Fueling more research just in the last year alone, these findings bring together numerous reports measuring the brain-health benefits of tea, especially the unique polyphenols found in green teas.

The compounds found in matcha are thought to improve connectivity in the brain, and potentially offer protections against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and age-related cognitive decline [2]. 

It’s also interesting, even more recent research which has expanded from the ‘neuro-graph’ findings; clinical research combining known benefits of tea and brain health, with elements of Japanese Tea Ceremony for example, may prove helpful in combating age-decline and social-isolation [3].

Moving on…

Why Brain Connectivity Matters | Tea and Brain Health

The newest research between brain health and tea drinking is predicated on the neuroscience of neuro-connectivity. For example, how density of connectivity, and how neurons connect to one another as predictors of behavior and cognitive health. 

Furthermore, the latest science brings in well-documented health properties of potent polyphenols in matcha and loose-leaf japanese teas. For example, how catechins found in matcha may increase sustainable neuronal energy levels [4].

In light of more technical findings from ‘neuro-graphs’ of tea-drinking (such as elevated symmetry, activity, and organization in the brain [1]), it’s thought-provoking how natural polyphenols in fine Japanese teas may help provide the necessary energy for positive brain changes – if not directly promote them.

Measuring Brain Health: How tea drinking may protect neurological health

Any given cognitive indicator is interconnected with most other measurements of brain health. Therefore, it often requires a complete approach to best understand cognitive diseases and decline, as well as disorders like schizophrenia [5].

In that same way, recognizing what benefits tea might bring to the brain means to look at the big picture: structure, function, activity, and more. Notably, the scientists found that nutrients found in Japanese teas had identifiable effects on regional ‘structural connectivity’ (i.e. the brain’s anatomical hardwiring) [1-4].

They also found how tea influences the ‘functional connectivity’ of the brain – in other words – the behavioral outcomes of how the brain connects with itself [1-4]. 

How Matcha Tea Boosts Brain Health – Japanese Green Tea and Brain Connections

Pointing out how both types of connectivity are involved with one another, it appears that tea drinking may make for positive changes in both areas and through one another.

Such research directly adds to the growing model for tea’s reported cognitive benefits, showcasing its influences within each of these systems of connection/activity.

Future research may thus better identify green teas, Japanese loose-leaf teas, and matcha as possible preventatives in the treatment of neurological disease.

Default Mode Network and Tea Drinking

As the study highlighted, some measurements of cognitive improvements were not as conclusive as others.

Some of tea’s positive correlations were found to include: the suppression of hemispheric asymmetry (an important marker of brain disease), improved structural organization, and elevated functional connectivity [1].

In particular, the benefits of tea were considered dominant within the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN is essentially the brain’s default mode of connectivity, activity, and behavior.

How Japanese Matcha Tea influences the Brain

Although compounds found in matcha tea and Japanese loose-leaf teas were not recently associated with significant improvements of ‘structure,’ it’s instead through the improved functional connectivity how sipping your daily matcha may drive long-term structural improvements [6-8].

The hypothesis that functional changes elicit structural ones is certainly exciting [6]. And while the latest research has focused on broad outcomes of tea drinking, other studies have evaluated possible mechanisms of how brain benefits may occur through daily tea drinking.

Examples include matcha tea as a source of necessary micronutrients involved in brain health, and how matcha tea may improve the microbiome – influencing neurological health through the gut-brain axis.

Furthermore, it’s suggested how L-theanine found in matcha, as well as unique polyphenols in tea may assist the ‘microglia’ of the brain, also known as the “brain’s immune cells.”

Matcha vs Brain Disease | Japanese Green Teas for Cognitive Support

That means matcha tea may directly boost the pathways your brain uses to keep itself free of toxic buildups. And if nothing else, technical details aside, we can rest assured how fine Japanese teas (matcha, loose-leaf tencha, etc) will bring us the benefits of a time-tested reputation for health. 

The Bottom Line

For centuries, tea drinking has been thought to safely boost longevity and sharpness of cognition through age. Plus, it makes you feel great – so what’s to lose?

It’s never too late to start drinking tea, and your brain might just thank you.

  

-Team Matcha.com

SHOP MATCHA

 

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References
[1] Li, J., Romero-Garcia, R., Suckling, J., & Feng, L. (2019). Habitual tea drinking modulates brain efficiency: evidence from brain connectivity evaluation. Aging (Albany NY), 11(11), 3876.
[2] Gomez-Pinilla, F., & Nguyen, T. T. (2012). Natural mood foods: the actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Nutritional neuroscience, 15(3), 127-133.
[3] Fink, K. (2020). Using a New Tea and Dialogue Mindfulness Practice (T&D) to Combat Community Dwelling Older Adults' Risks from Social Isolation.
[4] Hsueh, C. C., Wu, C. C., & Chen, B. Y. (2019). Polyphenolic compounds as electron shuttles for sustainable energy utilization. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 12(1), 271.
[5] Science Direct, Psychology, Functional-connectivity
[6] Tao, Y., Liu, B., Zhang, X., Li, J., Qin, W., Yu, C., & Jiang, T. (2015). The structural connectivity pattern of the default mode network and its association with memory and anxiety. Frontiers in neuroanatomy, 9, 152.
[7] Rudrauf, D. (2014). Structure-function relationships behind the phenomenon of cognitive resilience in neurology: insights for neuroscience and medicine. Advances in Neuroscience, 2014.
[8] Feng, L., Chong, M. S., Lim, W. S., Gao, Q., Nyunt, M. S. Z., Lee, T. S., ... & Ng, T. P. (2016). Tea consumption reduces the incidence of neurocognitive disorders: findings from the Singapore longitudinal aging study. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 20(10), 1002-1009.

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