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Green tea catechins found to protect the brain from cognitive decline



An active ingredient in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) was found to inhibit memory impairment, brain insulin resistance, and obesity, a new study concluded. According to a study that was published online in The FASEB Journal, EGCG, the most abundant catechin and bioactive component in green tea, can contribute to addressing neuroinflammation issues and brain insulin resistance that is triggered by a high-fat, high-fructose diet (HFFD).

“Green tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and is grown in at least 30 countries. The ancient habit of drinking green tea may be a more acceptable alternative to medicine when it comes to combatting obesity, insulin resistance, and memory impairment,” said Xuebo Liu, Ph.D., a researcher at the College of Food Science and Engineering, Northwest A&F University, in Yangling, China.

Earlier studies have pointed out EGCG’s capabilities towards addressing disorders in the body, but until now, EGCG’s effect on more specific matters, such as on insulin resistance and mental function, has yet to be categorized.“

EGCG, the major polyphenol in green tea, possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective activities; however, few reports have focused on its potential effect on cognitive disorders. In this study, our goal was to investigate the protective effects of EGCG treatment on insulin resistance and memory impairment induced by HFFD,” Liu added.

Liu, who along with three colleagues did the experiment by placing three-month-old mice under three different diets: 1) a control group fed with a standard diet; 2) a group that was given an HFFD-rich diet; and 3) a group that was given an HFFD-rich diet with two grams of EGCG per liter of drinking water.

Researchers monitored the mice for 16 weeks. At the end of those weeks, the researchers tested for changes in the mice’s physiological and mental structures, such as in terms of genetic expression, body weight, and cognitive and insulin function.

They concluded that the mice that were given an HFFD-rich diet weighed more than the control mice, and weighed significantly more than the mice that were fed HFFD+EGCG. When it came to the Morris water maze test, the mice in the HFFD group took more time in finding the platform than those who were in the control group. The HFFD+EGCG, meanwhile, had a significantly lower escape latency and escape distance than the HFFD group.

Thoru Pederson, Ph.D. and editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, said that this study is a great contribution to the world of biology, noting, “Many reports, anecdotal and to some extent research-based, are now greatly strengthened by this more penetrating study.”

Green tea consumption and human health

Some studies suggest that regularly drinking green tea can lower the chances of developing certain cancers, such as breast cancer. Other research materials showed that regular green tea drinkers, or those who drink five cups or more daily, have a 28 percent less chance on incurring heart diseases. Drinking black tea, however, does not equate to the same results.

The new study also echoes some of the facts that are already accepted as general knowledge in the world of science. For instance, evidence had already been provided that in addition to weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a stereotypical Western diet contributes to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, because of its high antioxidant content, aids in establishing better cognition and reduces the risk of dementia in old age.

This does not mean that people can eat loads of junk food and counter the harmful effects with loads of green tea, researchers said. A balanced diet, ample amount of sleep, and exercise is still key to having a healthy and sound body and mind.

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