Green Tea: Protecting the Brain
When it comes to tea, there is a vast and flavorful array of different varieties. In this article, we’re putting the spotlight on green tea. Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet, and not only is it loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but it also contains properties that act as protective barriers against brain damage.
1. Green tea protects brain cells from free radical damage.
Green tea is a mixture of unfermented leaves that contain the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants called polyphenols fight free radicals by damaging compounds in the body that are known to alter cells, harm DNA, and even cause cell death.
In 2007, Salk Institute researchers also found that a substance in tea called flavonoid epicatechin promotes blood vessel growth in the brain. Another study by King’s College backs the 2007 claim when they found that the same substance can protect brain cells through mechanisms unrelated to its antioxidant ability. This is because epicatechin is one of the few flavonoids that can successfully cross the blood-brain barrier.
2. Green tea protects the brain from developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Green tea may also possess the ability to protect the brain in old age. Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and is the leading cause of dementia, while Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease that involves the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.
Studies claim that the catechin compounds found in green tea can have many protective effects on neurons, which potentially lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
3. Green tea can make you smarter.
One of the key active ingredients in green tea is caffeine, which is known for being a stimulant. So not only does green tea keep you awake and energized, but it can also make you smarter. Green tea does not contain nearly as much caffeine as actual coffee, but it has enough to produce a response without causing jittery effects associated with consuming too much caffeine.
In the brain, caffeine works by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. It increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Caffeine has been extensively studied, and results consistently show improvements in various aspects of brain function, including the improvement of one’s mood, vigilance, muscle reflex, and memory.
Presence of L-theanine
Green tea contains more than just caffeine, it also has the amino acid L-theanine which can cross the blood-brain barrier. This amino acid increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It’s also known to increase dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.
A Combo that Boosts Brain Function and Energy
The combination of caffeine and L-theanine is particularly potent at improving brain function. If you are struggling to cope with some of coffee’s side effects but desperately need a morning pick-me-up, green tea is an excellent alternative. The healthiest drink in the world not only gives you more stable energy, but it can also increase your productivity throughout the day.