50+ health * Mental wellbeing

Green tea could help prevent Alzheimer's

Green tea could protect against Alzheimer s May also protect against cancer, UK study says

A new study by scientists at Newcastle University has found that drinking green tea could help prevent Alzheimer's and protect the body against cancer.

Significantly, the researchers found that the health benefits of green tea were actually enhanced by the actions of the body's digestive system.

This is an important finding because although previous studies had found that green tea contains chemicals known to help protect brain cells, these same chemicals are broken down by the body when the tea is digested.

In order to investigate the effects of green tea after digestion, the Newcastle researchers worked with a team at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee, who have developed technology which simulates the human digestive system.

Study leader Dr Ed Okello said: "What was really exciting about this study was that we found when green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals are actually more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer's development than the undigested form of the tea."

About the study

Two compounds are known to play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer's disease – hydrogen peroxide and a protein known as beta-amyloid. Chemicals found in green and black tea, known as polyphenols, are known to protect brain cells by binding with the toxic compounds.

These polyphenols are broken down into other chemicals by the body's digestive system. The researchers exposed tumour cells to varying concentrations of the different toxins and the digested green tea compounds.

Dr Okello explained: "The digested chemicals protected the cells, preventing the toxins from destroying the cells. We also saw them affecting the cancer cells, significantly slowing down their growth."

The study results are published in the journal Phytomedicine.

This article was published on Thu 6 January 2011

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