Can Green Tea help protect against Alzheimer’s disease?

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According to recent research conducted by Newcastle University in the UK, drinking green tea on a regular basis may help protect against the devastating brain disorder known as Alzheimer’s disease as well as slow down the progression of cancer. Now this is all very exciting news but is it as good as it sounds?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease resulting in problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. The disease is incurable, progressive, and ends in death. Anything that could help protect against, or even prevent this, would be welcome news indeed.

We’ve probably all heard that Green Tea can be good for us as it supposedly helps to neutralise free radicals thanks to the antioxidants in green tea. Now scientists are starting to shed more light on both how green tea can benefit health and why it just might be effective against Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous studies have shown a link between an accumulation of a protein known as beta-amyloid and dementia. In the Newcastle study they found that digested green tea appeared to offer protection against the effect of beta-amyloid on nerve cells, hence the assumption that it would protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s all down to the polyphenols of which there are different kinds including “Flavonoids” and “tannins”. Polyphenols are antioxidants which are found in plants, fruits and vegetables and which contribute to health by helping to eliminate toxins in the body.

However, although certain foods, and in this case green tea, may contain polyphenols, what happens to them after they are consumed and are they still as powerful? This latest study took into account the effect that the digestive system can have on green tea and found that the polyphenols were still active after having been digested. In other words, their beneficial effect was still there.

It’s important to note that the research which has been published in the journal Phytomedicine, does not prove conclusively that green tea will protect against Alzheimer’s and nor does it prove that it will slow down the progression of cancer.

We have to remember that this study was conducted in a laboratory and we have no way of knowing yet whether the same results will apply to humans directly. However, it is progress and it is promising in that it does pave the way for more research into this area.

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