Posts tagged: cognitive health

Study Finds Daily Consumption Of Tea May Protect The Elderly From Cognitive Decline

Study Finds Daily Consumption Of Tea May Protect The Elderly From Cognitive Decline
Study Finds Daily Consumption Of Tea May Protect The Elderly From Cognitive Decline. Graphic © Image – Pixabay (PD)

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. In 2016, Americans consumed more than 3.8 billion gallons [1] of tea, with black tea being a favorite. This is good news – due to the numerous possible health benefits of tea consumption, which have been well researched.

Recent data from a Singaporean human trial has reaffirmed the role of tea drinking in reducing the risk of cognitive decline in older persons.

Led by Feng Lei, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, the study focused on 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years or older. Lei and his team discovered that the neuroprotective role of daily consumption of tea is not a bailiwick of one tea variety and is not limited to one race. They published the research outcomes [2] in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, & Aging.

The research team noted that drinking “real tea” – tea that is brewed from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, such as green, black (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Assam, etc) or oolong, reduces a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders later in life. The authors gathered information on the participants’ tea drinking habits, lifestyles, medical conditions, and physical and social activities. They attributed the neuroprotective effect of brewed tea to a combination of bioactive compounds which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.

The neuroprotective cognitive effects of tea have been widely explored by scientists: A study that first appeared in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [3] confirmed the association between regular tea consumption and lower risks of cognitive impairment and decline. A Japanese study [4] determined the link between consumption of green tea and reduced risk of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. A Chinese study [5] also presented evidence on the relationship between tea consumption and reduced cognitive impairment.

Cognitive disorders refer to mental health issues that affect learning, memory, perception, and problem-solving. The most common types of cognitive disorder include amnesia, dementia, and delirium. Data from the World Health Organization [6] estimate that around 47.5 million people are living with dementia which is a major neurocognitive disorder. This medical condition registers 7.7 million new cases every year. The main risk factors linked to dementia include advancing age and family history of dementia. By 2050, the number of people with dementia is expected to reach 135.5 million.

As of this writing, there are no medications [7] approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which likely leads to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. However, there are coping strategies that may help delay or prevent the progression of MCI to dementia.

As posited by Lei’s team, drinking tea is a simple and inexpensive measure which may protect yourself from cognitive decline. Regular exercise [8] is another way to combat MCI since it benefits your blood vessels – including those that nourish your brain. Having a diet rich in flavonols and omega-3 fatty acids [9][10] could also reduce the risk of dementia.


[1] Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. Tea Fact Sheet – 2016-2017

[2] Feng L et al. 2016. Tea consumption reduces the incidence of neurocognitive disorders: Findings from the Singapore longitudinal aging study

[3] Ng TP et al. 2008. Tea consumption and cognitive impairment and decline in older Chinese adults

[4] Noguchi-Shinohara M et al. 2014. PLoS One. Consumption of Green Tea, but Not Black Tea or Coffee, Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Cognitive Decline

[5] Shen W et al. 2015. PLoS One. Tea Consumption and Cognitive Impairment: A Cross-Sectional Study among Chinese Elderly

[6] World Health Organization. Dementia Fact Sheet

[7] Alzheimer’s Association. Mild Cognitive Impairment

[8] Geda YE et al. 2010. Archives of Neurology. Physical Exercise and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study

[9] P.J. Smith and J.A. Blumenthal. 2016. The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

[10] Colin R. Martin and Victor Preedy. Diet and Nutrition in Dementia and Cognitive Decline

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia
Image © (under license)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults typically need seven hours or more of sleep to be healthy. However, statistics from a study conducted in 2018 by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine (which is part of the University of Pennsylvania) found that about 25 percent of Americans were affected by acute insomnia. Out of these people with acute insomnia, 75 percent were able to recover without their condition developing further into chronic insomnia while 25 percent developed poor sleep habits and chronic insomnia. [1]

How Do You Know If You Have Insomnia?

The researchers involved with this particular study defined acute insomnia as difficulty falling or staying asleep for a minimum of 3 nights a week for two consecutive weeks within three months. Chronic sleep, on the other hand, was defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep three nights a week for two consecutive weeks for more than three months. The University of Pennsylvania’s study is one of the first of its kind to include data from good sleepers: people who need less than 15 minutes to fall asleep and/or people who wake up during sleep but only for 15 minutes or less. They used this data to study the transition of good sleepers to people with acute and chronic insomnia. Apparently, 75 percent of the people affected by insomnia were able to recover good sleep within 12 months. 21 percent continued to experience poor quality sleep with episodes of acute insomnia, and six percent developed full blown chronic insomnia. [1]

What Can You Do To Improve Your Sleep?

Reports from a study conducted by Northwester Medicine and Rush University Medical Center found that living a ‘purposeful’ life leads to few sleep disturbances during the night, therefore improving overall sleep quality in the long run. This study was based on older adults aged 60 and older but the researchers are confident that the data they were able to collect could likely be applied to the general public. The actual number of participants in the study was 823 non-demented older adults who were aged between 60 and 100. To give you an idea of the study’s demographics, more than 50% of the participants were African-American while 77% were female. [2]

While there are many factors that are related to poor quality of sleep, one of the more common among the aging population is sleep apnea – and it becomes more prevalent with age. This kind of sleep disturbance can cause excessive tiredness during waking hours. Restless leg syndrome interrupts sleep because of uncomfortable sensations in the legs that make falling asleep more difficult.

Out of all these participants, those who believed they had a purpose in life were 63 percent less likely to experience sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless less syndrome: two factors which contributed to moderately better sleep quality. [3]

Dr. Jason Ong, one of the senior researchers of the study who is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern says that having purpose could potentially be an “effective, drug-free strategy” for a population that is being plagued with sleep problems and insomnia. Through various therapies, this purpose in life could be developed and turned into an actual treatment modality for this condition. [3]

Mindfulness therapy is what lead author Arlene Turner suggests, which can be used to specifically target purpose in life and sleep quality. Specifically, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT uses cognitive-behavioral therapy and stress reduction in a set number of sessions, usually in group therapy. This type of therapy was initially used to manage depression but can be used for a variety of other conditions as well. Stress-reduction plays a big role in mindfulness therapy; since stressors can hinder the formation of a life purpose. Therapeutically, MBCT encourages participants to “adopt a new way of being” by focusing their thoughts and feelings which can improve emotional regulation and help develop a sense of purpose in one’s life. [4]


[1] Penn Medicine News. 1 in 4 Americans Develop Insomnia Each Year.

[2] Turner, A., Smith, C. & Ong, J. (2017). Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults?

[3] Paul, M. (2017). A purpose in life by day results in better sleep at night.

[4] Sipe, W. & Eisendrath, S. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: theory and practice.

Health Benefits Of Glutamic Acid

Health Benefits Of Glutamic Acid
Graphic ©

Aside from being a protein building block, glutamic acid is physiologically reputed for being the most common excitatory neurotransmitter existing in the human central nervous system and the most vital neurotransmitter at that, playing a major role in the activation of neurons and to a large extent in learning and memory. [1] Glutamic acid is a polar nonessential amino acid with an additional methylene group in its side chain. It can conveniently pass through the blood-brain barrier via a high-affinity transport system to support many brain functions and is involved in energy metabolism upon entering the Krebs cycles and through its conversion to glutamine, which is another amino acid implicated in nitrogen metabolism. [2] The salt or ester of glutamic acid is referred to as glutamate, a non-alien term to those very familiar with the food seasoning monosodium glutamate.

Despite its unarguable importance in neuronal functioning, glutamic acid is considered a nonessential nutrient since the body can naturally synthesize it. A number of foods also are known to be rich in glutamic acid, such as turkey, pork, chicken, lupines, soybeans, egg whites, wheat, and nuts like almonds. [3]

Glutamic Acid And Intelligence

Various ongoing studies have revealed that the function of glutamic acid goes beyond just the generation of excitatory postsynaptic currents. This amino acid also affects neuronal migration, neuronal differentiation, axon genesis, and neuronal survival, which have all spawned interest in glutamic acid regarding its role in memory and other related cognitive functions. Most notably, patients with both acute and chronic brain injuries and several neurodegenerative disorders such as brain ischemia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease have been observed to manifest multiple alterations in the glutamate system and its metabolism. Such findings have triggered research on the development of drugs for the recovery of glutamate metabolism system as a potential therapeutic approach for neurodegenerative diseases. [4]

It should be mentioned however that results from earlier studies investigating the effect of glutamic acid on mental retardation are rather contrasting. In the study of Foale (1952), fifteen 10- to 15-year-old boys described as “feeble-minded” and maladjusted and whose intelligence quotients (IQ) ranged from 54 to 76 were treated with glutamic acid for 10 months; eight boys out of the fifteen demonstrated improvement in general adjustment, four of whom achieved an 8- to 11-point increase in IQ. [5] On the other hand, administration of glutamic acid (three daily doses over four months) in sixteen 7- and 15-year-old children with IQ ranging from 42 to 77 was shown to produce no significant effect in the study of Oldfelt (1952). [6]

Glutamic Acid and Blood Pressure

Glutamic acid consumed from one’s diet has been reported to independently lower blood pressure. In the cross-sectional epidemiological study by Stamler et al. (2009), which involved 4,680 40- to 59-year-old individuals from random population samples in China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, blood pressure was inversely associated with an intake of glutamic acid, to which vegetable proteins have higher levels of than animal proteins do. The researchers also had pointed out that people who consumed principally vegetable protein compared with animal protein and therefore had higher intake of glutamic acid and, to a lesser extent, other amino acids studied (including cystine, proline, phenylalanine, and serine) have lower blood pressure. [7]

Glutamic Acid and Cancer

Glutamic acid’s importance in the treatment against cancer lies on its being a source of endogenous derivatives with established anticancer properties, particularly glutamine and glutamate. For instance, L-glutamic acid-γ-(4-hydroxyanilide) isolated from the mushroom Agaricus bisporous has been reported to inhibit B16 melanoma cells in culture, and synthetic amides of L-glutamic acid appear to exhibit anticancer activity against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. Glutamic acid can also act as a promising conjugate to other anticancer agents because of its ability to increase efficacy of anticancer drugs and decrease these drugs’ toxicity on normal cells. All-trans retinoic acid, an active metabolite of vitamin A used as part of the therapy against acute promyelocytic leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, is often paired with glutamic acid or its sodium salts to achieve better solubility, transportation, and bioavailability. Furthermore, paclitaxel, a well-known chemotherapy drug for ovarian, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers, is conjugated with water-soluble polyglutamate, which according to studies results in more antitumor activity than free paclitaxel alone. [8]


[1] R. Sapolsky. (2005). Biology and human behavior: the neurological origins of individuality, 2nd edition. The Teaching Company.….pdf

[2] The Biology Project. (2003). Glutamic acid E (Glu). Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, University of Arizona.

[3] Glutamic acid(g). USDA Agricultural Research Service: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27.

[4] Kanunnikova N. P. (2012). Role of brain glutamic acid metabolism changes in neurodegenerative pathologies. Journal of Biology and Earth Sciences. 2(1).

[5] Foale M. (1952). The treatment of mental defectives with glutamic acid. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 98(412): 483-487. doi: 10.1192/bjp.98.412.483.

[6] Oldfelt V. (1952). Experimental glutamic acid treatment in mentally retarded children. The Journal of Pediatrics. 40(3): 316-323.

[7] Stamler J., Brown I. J., Daviglus M. L., Chan Q., Kesteloot H., Ueshima H., Zhao L., Elliott P. (2009). Glutamic acid, the main dietary amino acid, and blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study (International Collaborative Study of Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Blood Pressure). Circulation. 120(3): 221-228. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.839241.

[8] Duttaa S., Rayb S., K. Nagarajan K. (2013). Glutamic acid as anticancer agent: An overview. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. 21(4): 37-343. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2012.12.007.