Do you want to help your brain function better? Get used to drinking at least one “tea for the brain” every day!
When it comes to energizing drinks, there are two main categories: coffee and tea drinkers.
I have to say I am more of a tea person. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, but not to the point of investing at least $1.000 in equipment to prepare a decent one at home. It is usually during weekends when I go out for a good coffee at a specialty coffee shop. On a day to day basis, I prefer to drink tea. I love green tea (not a big fan of black tea), and I do enjoy at least one every day.
A recent study led by scientists from the National University of Singapore, the University of Essex and from the University of Cambridge, revealed “the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organization”. The findings were published in the scientific journal Aging on 14 June 2019. You can read more about this research results on ScienceDaily.
Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years, both as a spice and as a medical plant. “It has proven properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, antiseptic, and antimutagenic. Due to these properties, it is quite useful in dentistry as well. It has a role in the treatment of periodontal diseases and oral cancers. Turmeric can also be used as a pit and fissure sealant, mouth wash, and subgingival irrigant in different preparations. It can also be used as a component in local drug delivery system in gel form.”, according to this article published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and it only makes about 3% of the root. This is why most studies and supplements use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself.
Unfortunately, curcumin’s absorption into the bloodstream is rather poor, so the body needs some help in this regard. Black pepper seems to be the best help in this case. According to this research, the piperine in the black pepper can increase curcumin absorption by up to 2.000%. The percentage sounds extremely high, but it is because without any help, there is almost no absorption at all. For this reason, the best curcumin supplements contain also black pepper.
Curcumin has many benefits for the body, but I will only mention here the ones related to our topic, the brain:
– it boosts BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)
– seems to be helpful in prevention and even treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
– helps fight Depression
– reduces inflammation and helps boost antioxidant levels
There are many research studies on this topic, so if you want to dive deeper I would recommend these: Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF, Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB, Alterations of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed patients with or without antidepressants, Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity.
There are many recipes for turmeric tea, but I usually make my tea this way: put 3 – 4 cups of water in a saucepan, and when it starts to boil, add 2 teaspoons of turmeric and stir. Add half a teaspoon of grounded black pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes and strain the tea into another container. You can add raw honey, freshly squeezed lemon, coconut oil or milk if you want. Often times I also add 1 teaspoon of grounded cinnamon, some finely chopped ginger or a few cloves along with the pepper.
Gotu Kola Tea
Gotu Kola is a herb used in ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. It is also called fountain of life. Its scientific name is Centella asiatica, and in recent times it has been gaining more and more attention along with the increased focus on plan research worldwide. Saponins (also called triterpenoids), the primary constituents of Centella asiatica are believed to help improving cognition, relieve anxiety, wound healing, treatment of various skin conditions, fever, etc.
According to this paper published by Kashmira J. Gohil, Jagruti A. Patel, and Anuradha K. Gajjar, Gotu Kola may help against depression, helps revitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration and combat aging.
Bring 2 cups of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of dried Gotu kola leaves, put the lid on and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Let it steep for a few more minutes with the lid on, then strain and drink. I love to drink this in the morning, or during the day after meals.
Ginger has also been used in Asian cultures as a medicine for thousands of years. In the western world, recent studies have revealed that ginger positively affects memory function and exhibits anti-neuroinflammatory activity, which could help prevent neurodegenerative diseases. It has also many other useful effects as being a strong antioxidant, an efficient anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity or even antidiabetic and antiobesity effects.
Some do not like the strong spicy taste of this tea, but I personally love it. I find it is extremely helpful when fighting colds, so during the winter I drink it more than usual and hotter than usual.
Take one piece of ginger root the size of a lighter. Peel it off and either finely chop it or use a fine grater. Add 6 – 7 clove and add everything to about 2 cups of hot water. Put a cover on top and let it steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Now you can add the juice from half a lemon, and if you want also some raw honey.
Green or White Tea
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong teas and black teas. It originated in China, but its production and manufacture have spread to many other countries in Asia.
The researchers from the University of Basel conducted a study covering published scientific papers related to green tea extracts effects on general neuropsychology, on the sub-category cognition and on brain functions in humans. They concluded that green tea reduces anxiety, improves memory and cognition and activates the working memory.
I prefer to buy higher quality green tea leaves, but if not available, normal pre-made tea-bags are good also (just make sure it’s organic tea). When you use dried leaves, the first time it is enough to pour some hot water over them and wait 1 – 2 minutes. You can keep the leaves and make several more cups of tea by pouring hot water over them.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I love drinking tea. Besides all the health benefits mentioned above, it can keep you away from carbonated beverages and all sort of chemically “rich” beverages that may tempt you throughout the day.