Tea has had a long history of being kind to the body. From improving sleep to boosting metabolism to even reducing cancer risks, this beloved pastime is thought to provide a ton of health benefits. Now tea drinkers have one more reason to be happy.
A new study suggests that drinking tea or coffee can lower the risks of developing Parkinson’s disease, linking this effect to the “neuroprotective properties” contained in caffeine and urate.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 10 million people worldwide. The most common symptoms are tremors and balance problems, with largely unknown causes.
The research, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, involved 369 people with PD and 197 people without measuring their caffeine and urate levels.
Findings show that the higher the caffeine and urate levels, the lower the odds of having Parkinson’s.
Tea and Parkinson’s: a Shared History
This is not the first time scientists explored the effects of green tea on early PD. The Michael Jay Fox Foundation talked about it once, discussing the ability of green tea and the substance called polyphenols in slowing down the progression of the disease.
In 2012, a team of scientists engineered files to develop PD and treated them with an antioxidant found in green tea. Compared to the control group flies, the treated flies moved faster and had better-preserved neurons. The treatment also activated an effect that kept their neurons from dying when exposed to stress.
In 2016, the Parkinson’s Foundation revealed in a study that drinking one cup of black tea a day lowered the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Still, the organization claimed that if you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you can’t alter your risk profile, no matter how much time you spend in Starbucks.
The most recent study, conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School, showed that the prevalence of Parkinson’s was 70% lower in participants who consumed the most caffeine compared to those who consumed the least. Apart from caffeine consumption, researchers also considered factors like weight, sex, and BMI.
To this day, the causes of Parkinson’s remain a medical mystery. According to author Prof. Bas Bloem, seeing the link between caffeine consumption and PD presents a unique opportunity to understand the disease better and see if the connection is causal.
A Cup a Day for the Healthy Heart
It’s mostly unclear whether the tea (or caffeine, for that matter) is the direct cause of these effects, and if so, how it works its magic. There’s an attempt to rule out factors like higher levels of physical activity or healthier lifestyles in tea drinkers, but one can never be too sure.
That being said, tea seems to have no adverse effects on the body, except for a case of the jitters if you have too much. When in moderation and without the added sweetener, drinking tea fits right into a healthy, heart-loving lifestyle. A cup a day is just the perfect amount.
So when you buy your next pack of jasmine tea, take additional pleasure in knowing it’s helping you live healthier while helping millions of people everywhere.