Over 15% of people over the age of 60 suffer from a mental disorder. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, with 7% of seniors throughout the world suffering from it.
As the ageing population continues to grow, scientists are looking to understand more about these illnesses and uncover their root causes.
Genetics, socioeconomic status, and family relationships are among a handful of areas researchers are exploring. But one group of scientists is zeroing on a common daily habit: drinking tea.
The link between tea and the brain
Two studies by researchers from the National University of Singapore and Fudan University in Shanghai have discovered a strong association between mental health and tea.
Junhua Li, lead author of a study published last June, suggests that certain properties of tea may help the brain’s cognitive function in older age. “Our study offers the first evidence of the positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure and suggests a protective effect on age-related decline in brain organisation,” says Junhua.
As a follow-up, researchers from Fudan University set out to explore this theory further. Taking into account different variables, such as gender, education, health and lifestyle habits, the researchers divided up tea-drinkers into four different categories, based on their frequency and consistency of their tea consumption.
The study found that only “consistent day drinkers” who had drunk tea almost every day since age 60 could benefit in mental health.
Analyzing the data of 13,000 individuals, the study found a universal link between tea drinking and lower reports of depression, with the benefits strongest in males aged 65 to 79.
Several other factors seem to play a role in reducing depression, such as living in an urban setting, being educated, socially engaged and financially comfortable.
While the results don’t yet support a definitive connection between tea and depression, researchers are looking to understand more about the benefits of tea.