If you want a change from coffee, it might be a good idea to brew up some green tea. Green tea has been shown to be very good for your brain.
Green tea contains antioxidants. These include compounds called polyphenols, which give it its color and bitter taste. The polyphenols in green tea boost the brain chemical dopamine and make it work more effectively. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has important functions. It transfers reward and motivation signals in the brain. It promotes positive moods and helps us deal with life in a healthy, optimistic way.
Dopamine also helps muscles move smoothly. In Parkinson’s disease, dopamine is limited, causing tremors and muscle rigidity. Studies have shown that the polyphenols in green tea can limit these symptoms, and may help prevent Parkinson’s disease from occurring.
The polyphenols in green tea also help the brain maintain enough glucose. Glucose is the chief fuel of the brain. That’s why we like to snack while we’re studying. Polyphenols make the body more sensitive to insulin. This makes the insulin more efficient at allowing glucose into the brain cells, and provides a steady supply of glucose to the brain.
Studies have shown that polyphenols called flavonoids may prevent memory loss. Flavonoids may do this in two ways. They reduce beta-amyloid, which leads to deposits of protein and ultimately plaque in the brain, They also decrease neuron loss in the brain from MPTP, a toxic substance that attacks dopamine production and receptors.
Antioxidants like polyphenols are especially important to the brain because the brain is susceptible to free radical damage. The use of oxygen during its processes creates free radicals, which are molecules that have unpaired electrons. When these molecules try to bond to other molecules, it causes bonds in the second molecules to break in order to create electron pairs. This can lead to cell damage. The antioxidants in green tea donate an electron to stop the breakage.
Green tea may even come to the rescue if you have a stroke. It contains tannins, which protect the tea plant by making it taste terrible to animals. One of these substances, gallotannin, prevents the body from allowing brain cells to die during a stroke, and keeps the body’s DNA repair system working. Gallotannin has been used to treat stroke patients.
A study done in Japan in 2006 showed that older people who drink green tea may have better cognition than those who don’t. One thousand people age 70 and older took tests involving memory, attention, and ability to follow instructions. The participants who drank two cups of green tea or more every day scored the highest on the tests.
I’ll take those tests, but first I need some green tea.