Research: Tea Improves the Attention Span of Those Over 85-Years-Old

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According to a new study from Newcastle University inthe U.K., older tea drinkers who enjoyed more than five cups a day were shownto have more focus and sustained attention span. They also demonstrated betterpsychomotor skills – those linking brain and movement. In tests, theyshowed better accuracy and speed of reaction, which could help in dailyactivities such as completing a jigsaw, sewing or driving a car.

The researchers specifically studied the tea-drinking habits of those over 85year old who were living in their own homes or in assisted accommodation. Theresearchers found that those who drank more than five cups of tea a day – withor without milk – performed better at certain cognitive tests.

DrEdward Okello, principal investigator, Human Nutrition ResearchCentre at Newcastle University, led the research and study. He noted, “Theskills we see maintained in this group of very old may not only be due to thecompounds present in tea, but it may also be the rituals of making a pot of teaor sharing a chat over a cup of tea are just as important.”

The research used data from the flagship Newcastle 85+ Study, involvingmore than one thousand 85-year-olds from Newcastle and North Tyneside in theU.K. Started in 2006, studies are still continuing to this day with around 200participants as they become centenarians.

Research nurses gather information by visiting participants in their own homesto complete a health assessment made up of questionnaires, measurements,function tests and a fasting blood test.

Examining the consumption of black tea, Camellia sinensis, theresearchers were looking for evidence that it protected against memory loss(cognitive decline). They found that higher tea consumption was associated withsignificantly better attention (focused and sustained attention), andpsychomotor speed (complex tasks only) over the five years but there was noassociation between tea consumption and overall measures of memory (globalcognitive function) or performance on simple speed tasks.

The researchers suggest the findings mean that black tea should be consideredfor the very old in any diet, which aims to improve attention and psychomotorspeed.

“We now know that enjoying a cup of tea quenches your thirst and has benefitsfor over 85s attention span,” said Dr Okello. “What better excuse do we needfor enjoying a cuppa together?”

Reference:Tea consumption andmeasures of attention and psychomotor speed in the very old: the Newcastle 85+longitudinal study. Edward Jonathan Okello, NunoMendonça, Blossom Stephan, Graciela Muniz-Terrera, Keith Wesnes and MarioSiervo. BMC Nutr. doi: 10.1186/s40795-020-00361-8.