Drinking This Popular Beverage Slashes Dementia Risk, New Study Says

It has multiple health benefits, and you may already be consuming it daily.

The inevitability of aging can feel scary at times—and the associated health risks make it that much more difficult to contend with. Dementia is top of mind for many of us, affecting nearly 55 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And with 10 million new cases each year, it has become a globally pressing concern.

The disease is characterized by memory loss, disability, and increased dependence on others, with Alzheimer's disease accounting for nearly 6o to 70 percent of cases. Research has found people develop dementia due to both genetic and environmental factors, but there are preventative measures to take. In fact, one new study has investigated the protective effects of a beverage many of us consume daily. Read on to find out which drink could help reduce your risk of developing dementia.

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Different drinks have previously been found to increase the risk of dementia.

different kind of drinks in glasses
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Considering the prevalence of dementia, several studies have investigated how certain foods, drinks, and lifestyle factors may contribute to individual risk. A 2017 study suggested consuming diet soda every day (compared to less than once a week) could triple your risk of dementia. In addition, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of California, San Francisco recently found that people who start abusing alcohol later in life may already have dementia. Data from the study showed that abusing alcohol after age 40 could be the first sign of a neurological condition, acting as a "presenting symptom"—also known as the time when a patient seeks out medical treatment.

While you may be thinking of sticking to water from here on out, another study suggests a popular beverage could actually protect you from developing dementia.

Drinking this beverage lowers dementia risk, according to a new study.

delicious green tea in a beautiful glass bowl on a table
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If you enjoy a cup of green tea in the morning to jumpstart your day or a relaxing cup of Sleepytime to wind down in the evening, you'll be happy to learn this practice could also benefit your overall health.

A study published April 26 in Translational Psychiatry found that people who drank tea were 16 percent less likely to develop different forms of dementia when compared with those who did not drink tea. Moderate tea drinkers, or those who consumed between one and six cups a day, had a 16 to 19 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, as well as a 25 to 29 percent lower risk of developing vascular dementia.

Researchers also found a "U-shaped association" between cups of tea and dementia risk, and three cups a day showed the strongest protective effect against developing the disease. Put simply, the ideal amount to stave off dementia risk was exactly three daily cups.

Interestingly, researchers did not observe a significant difference in dementia risk between those who consumed more than six cups of tea and those who did not drink tea at all.

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Researchers studied over 377,000 people in the U.K.

woman lounging and drinking a cup of tea
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The study included 377,592 participants from the U.K. Biobank (UKB), who had a mean age of 58.49 years. During the nine-year follow-up period, 5,122 participants developed incident dementia.

Information about tea consumption was collected when participants enrolled in the UKB between 2006 and 2010. Participants were asked how many cups of tea they drank each day (including black and green tea) via a touchscreen questionnaire, with approximately 85.1 percent reporting that they consumed the beverage. Based on responses, participants were divided into six groups—non-drinkers, drinkers consuming one to two cups per day, three to four cups per day, seven to eight cups per day, and nine or more cups per day.

Findings suggest tea could "play a pivotal role" in dementia prevention.

Putting tea bag into glass cup full of hot water
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This is not the first study to investigate the relationship between tea and dementia, as a 2016 study found that drinking tea every day could cut your dementia risk in half. Data from the present study lends further support to tea consumption as a "potentially modifiable lifestyle factor," meaning you can make changes to help control dementia risk.

Researchers believe the protective effects may stem from the antioxidative functions of tea (partially due to caffeine), as well as the potential to reduce neuroinflammation, which plays a role in dementia progression. The amino acid l-theanine is also extracted from tea leaves and has been suggested by previous studies as an intervention for cognitive improvement, researchers noted.

The study was not without its limitations, however, which could have affected the results. Tea consumption may have changed over the course of the follow-up period, as consumption habits were only reported at the start of the study. Also, asking how many "cups" participants drank did not require a universal measurement, and no information was collected on the type of tea, which investigators highlighted as an area for future research.

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