A new study claims that 1-4 daily cups of caffeinated coffee or tea during your forties and fifties may help keep you stronger and less fragile later in life.
What are the key findings of the study?
The results highlighted that middle-aged individuals who regularly consumed caffeinated green tea, black tea, or coffee daily — even just one cup of coffee or tea — had a notable reduction in their risk of physical frailty compared to non-daily caffeine drinkers in their 70s and beyond.
These findings are aligned with previous research that has found caffeine may help stimulate muscle cell proliferation and enhance muscle weight in animal trials.
Furthermore, both tea and coffee are highly potent sources of polyphenols, which have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that both support healthy aging.
Though the study yielded promising results, the research team from Singapore has voiced further studies are needed to identify the specific chemical compounds and mechanisms responsible for this connection between drinking tea and coffee and physical function later in life.
What is physical frailty?
Physical frailty is an age-related medical syndrome often characterized by diminished endurance, speed, strength, height, and physiologic function that increases an individual's vulnerability to developing increased dependency.
How did the study work?
The National University of Singapore's Healthy Longevity Translational Research Program research team examined over 12,000 Chinese adults ages 45 to 74 over twenty years.
The first round of baseline interviews with participants took place at the average age of 53 with an age range of 45 to 74 years, in which they were asked about their drinking habits of caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee.
Tea drinkers in the study were classified into four categories according to how often they consumed tea or coffee: never, at least 1x per month, at least 1x per week, and daily tea and coffee drinkers.
Participants who consumed four or more cups per day had significantly reduced odds of physical frailty in later life compared to those who did not drink anything caffeinated daily.
How was fragility measured in the study?
A participant's state of fragility was based on a combination of answers to questions such as their perceived weight loss and exhaustion and physical strength tests.
In the follow-up interviews completed twenty years later, researchers asked the participants with a mean age of 73 and an overall age range from 61 to 96 about their overall health. They conducted two strength tests: A handgrip strength test and a timed up-and-go (TUG) test.
A TUG test is a common test used to assess a person’s mobility. It requires both dynamic and status balance. In the test, individuals are timed sitting up from a chair to stand, walking three meters, turning around 180 degrees, walking back to the chair and sitting back down, turning 180 degrees.
It's worth noting that the strongest correlations for daily tea drinkers having substantially lower odds of physical frailty came from the objective measurements vs. the self-reported metrics such as their perceived exhaustion or weight loss.
What’s the best tea to combat fragility?
Matcha green tea has some of the highest caffeine content among teas, with 20-45 mg of caffeine per serving.
Plus, the combination of bioactive ingredients found in matcha green tea may help alleviate the discomforting symptoms associated with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and help you build stronger bones.
Since it's non-oxidized and non-fermented, matcha green tea also contains a notably higher number of polyphenols than other teas. In fact, polyphenols make up about 40% of the solids extracted from green tea leaves.
Consuming 2-3 servings of high-quality matcha that has around 45 mg of caffeine per serving daily may be one of the best ways to support healthy aging. Learn more about how drinking matcha daily may be particularly beneficial for helping you stay strong and supporting bone health with age.
The bottom line
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association in July, concluded a regularly higher caffeine intake — even just one cup of coffee or tea a day — is linked to lower odds of physical frailty.
This has been the first study of its kind, specifically focused on looking at the intake of caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea.
This study's findings support an ever-emerging body of evidence showing just how vital the role of nutrition and diet may be in preventing physical frailty.
Learn more about the potential benefits of green tea compared to coffee.
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Disclaimer: These statements in this blog post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. It's essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
Chua, K. Y., Li, H., Lim, W. S., & Koh, W. (2023). Consumption of coffee, tea, and caffeine at midlife, and the risk of physical frailty in late life. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2023.06.015