A study of 14,000 aging adults concludes that tea drinkers retain greater independence and agility than non tea drinkers.
The Japanese research paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that “green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability.”
A team led by researcher Yasutake Tomata of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai tracked the activities of 13,998 adults aged 65 or older for three years.
Researchers speculate antioxidants in green tea contribute to a lower incidence of frailty and disability as adults grow older. Those who drank the most tea received the greatest benefit and those who drank at least three cups a day were much less likely to become functionally disabled.
Researchers found that 13 percent of subjects drinking less than a cup of tea a day became unable to dress and bathe without assistance during the three year period, compared to 7 percent of heavy tea drinkers. Those people who averaged three or four cups a day had a 25 percent lower risk, remained mobile and could perform household chores and go for walks.
Tomata and his colleagues were not able to determine the direct link to the chemicals in tea and noted that many tea drinkers consume more fish, vegetables and fruit and they had lower rates of smoking, fewer heart attacks and strokes as well as a more well-rounded social life. Discounting these factors the tea drinkers still did better than their non tea-drinking peers.
In designing the study, Tomata noted that previous research suggests green tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of diseases that cause functional disability such as stroke, cognitive impairment, and osteoporosis.
“Although it is expected that green tea consumption would lower the risk of incident functional disability, until now this has never been investigated directly,” he wrote.
Abstract: First published January 25, 2012, doi: 10.3945/?ajcn.111.023200 Am J Clin Nutr March 2012 ajcn.023200 Green tea consumption and the risk of incident functional disability in elderly Japanese: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study1,2,3, Yasutake Tomata, Masako Kakizaki, Naoki Nakaya, Toru Tsuboya, Toshimasa Sone, Shinichi Kuriyama, Atsushi Hozawa, and Ichiro Tsuji