Time for another cuppa then? Tea-drinkers have better brains, say boffins with even better brains

Mine's a pint of oolong, please, love

Researchers from the National University of Singapore have found that drinking tea regularly really is good for you, especially your brain. They say they have also discovered why.

Previous studies on tea-drinking have revealed such positive effects as helping prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as confirming Dr Johnson's 18th-century claim regarding tea's propensity to improve one's mood.

This latest research led by Feng Lei, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine at NUS, builds on his previous work that found daily consumption of tea halves the risk of cognitive decline in older people. By then, he had already begun focusing more closely on the effects of tea specifically on the brain.

Working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Essex and University of Cambridge, Lei's team studied 36 adults aged over 60, analysing data about their health, lifestyle and psychological well-being. Participants also underwent multiple MRI scans and neuropsychological testing over a period of four years.

The results indicated the regular tea-drinkers had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way than those who avoided tea altogether.

It all comes down to the tea-drinkers having well-structured connections between the different regions of the brain. Such "improved brain organisation is brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections," said Lei, suggesting that it might be bioactive compounds in the tea that is doing the prevention.

So what kind of tea should you be drinking to ensure a long life with all your marbles intact by the end of it?

Green tea, oolong or good old black tea; fruit infusions and tisanes are not on the list. And you need to be drinking it at least four times a week for about 25 years.

A parallel study on the effect of scones, crumpets and digestive biscuits wouldn't go amiss. ®

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