The health benefits of tea are many and varied. However, the near-medicinal beverage can be particularly helpful for older adults. Here, we’ll look at some of the reasons that this can be the case.
When you read about the health benefits in tea, one of the factors most frequently referenced is the high antioxidant count in various forms of the beverage. These ingredients themselves have numerous benefits, and as was pointed out in “4 Ways Antioxidants Benefit Your Body”, these include cardiac protection. Simply put, people with diets high in antioxidants are less likely to suffer from heart disease (as well as some chronic conditions such as arthritis). These benefits apply to all tea drinkers, but with the risks older adults face in this respect, cardiac protection is particularly appealing.
With that said, this particular benefit of tea consumption is most effective if tea is a regular part of one’s diet for an extended period of time. Comments from a Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences professor indicate that research shows “consistent habitual tea drinkers” to reap the most benefits. Because some of tea’s protective compounds aren’t stored in the body for a long time, the professor argues that “frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for the cardioprotective effect.” This doesn’t mean older individuals who haven’t regularly consumed their whole lives are missing out. But it does mean the sooner tea is incorporated into one’s diet, the better!
Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline
The notion that regular tea consumption can lower the risk of cognitive decline is one that’s mentioned almost fleetingly in plenty of discussions about tea’s benefits. However, the degree to which this may be the case is often left unstated, or misunderstood. According to findings from the National University of Singapore published in 2017, tea drinking can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in “older persons” by up to 50%. The same findings, furthermore, stated that older adults with genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease could experience an 86% reduction in risk. Clearly these are remarkable numbers, and further incentive for aging adults to work tea into their routines!
Protection Against Osteoporosis
Research has also shown that some of the compounds in tea — and white tea in particular — can be helpful in staving off osteoporosis. The specific compounds are known as catechins, and they’re known to fight against some of the types of cells that can lead to bone deterioration, and ultimately osteoporosis in some older adults.
This is an interesting benefit in part because we typically think of osteoporosis as a condition to be managed, rather than prevented. In fact, it is one of the conditions leading to more of a focus on certain types of nursing care that even qualified professional nurses are pursuing higher education and online degrees to practice. Maryville University’s rundown of nursing careers cites “geriatric nurses” as professionals devoted in part to “assisting the elderly” as they deal with conditions like Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. This is an honorable calling to be sure, and it’s wonderful that more nurses are studying for this specialty. But aging adults who heed the health benefits of white tea may be able to prevent themselves from ever needing this sort of care in the first place.
Improving Mental Wellness
Last but not least, various types of tea are also known to carry benefits that amount to significantly improved mental wellness. For one thing, we know from numerous studies that tea improves people’s moods in a general sense, helping to soothe feelings of unease and even release dopamine (which is almost literally the chemical that causes good feeling). Relatedly, we also know that the common refrain that tea reduces stress is actually scientific. In 2018, Elite Daily cited a study definitively proving that tea (and green tea in particular) decreases stress levels and improves sleep quality.
Combine all of these benefits, and you get meaningful boosts in mental wellness — and one more reason for older adults to make a habit of drinking tea!
Exclusively written for opendoortea.com by Patricia Cane