Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory

It has long been believed that drinking green tea is good for the memory. Now researchers have discovered how the chemical properties of China’s favorite drink affect the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning. The research is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

“Green tea is a popular beverage across the world,” said Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China. “There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.”

Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memoryProfessor Bai’s team focused on the organic chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) a key property of green tea. While EGCG is a known anti-oxidant, the team believed it can also have a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases.

“We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” said Bai. “We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.”

The team found that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt, or differentiate, into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning.

“We ran tests on two groups of mice, one which had imbibed ECGC and a control group,” said Bai. “First the mice were trained for three days to find a visible platform in their maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform.”

The team found that the ECGC treated mice required less time to find the hidden platform. Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.

“We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice,” concluded Bai. “This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss.”

This paper is published as part of a collection of articles bringing together high quality research on the theme of food science and technology with particular relevance to China. Browse free articles from Wiley’s food science and technology publications including the Journal of Food Science, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

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  3. Blog is absolutely fantastic! All great information can be helpful in some or the other way. Green Tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Regular green tea drinkers have lower chances of heart disease and developing certain types of cancer.

  4. Another benefit of green tea! According to Natural Standard, green tea has been studied in different areas from anxiety to fertility to hypertension to common cold prevention. All of these indications have been given an evidence grade of C, meaning we still need more information. Its great that they are conducting studies on natural products for memory benefits. Green tea is one of the most common drinks in the world, and many people may be more apt to try a natural product than a brand new pharmaceutical. Keep up the great research! I would love to see green tea and other natural supplements used for memory aids in humans.

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