Green tea: maintaining a good quality of life as you age

Green tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Its beneficial effects for the health of seniors continue to be reported. Even though life expectancy has made a prodigious leap over the last century, the quality of life of the elderly is too often compromised by various illnesses that impose functional limitations. A recent study indicates that regular consumption of green tea is a simple and effective way to prevent these limitations and maintain a good quality of life as you age.

Over the last century, the dramatic improvement in hygiene conditions and the treatment of infectious diseases has led to a phenomenal increase in the life expectancy of the population. While in 1900, barely 1% of the world’s population was aged 65 or over, this proportion was 10% in 2000 and could reach 20% in 2050, with no less than 2 billion “old people” populating then the planet.

Unfortunately, living longer does not necessarily guarantee a healthy life; in fact, the increase in longevity is often associated with a parallel increase in many chronic diseases that counteract the benefits that a longer life could bring. These diseases lead to a significant deterioration in the state of health of the elderly, which is reflected in the appearance of numerous functional limitations in the performance of daily activities.

For example, the World Health Organization estimates that a person who lives to be 80 years old will lose on average almost ten years of healthy life due to these chronic diseases. The loss of autonomy and the many sufferings associated with these diseases cause a substantial reduction in the benefits that an increase in lifespan can provide.

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Green tea protects the heart, brain and certain cancers

Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, with no less than 3 billion kilos of tea leaves produced annually. An impressive number of studies have shown that drinking tea, particularly in the form of green tea, is associated with a host of beneficial health effects including a reduction in cardiovascular disease, certain cancers as well as neurodegenerative diseases. like Alzheimer’s disease.

Japanese researchers recently sought to determine whether these beneficial effects translate into longer-term protection from the functional limitations encountered by the elderly. The researchers followed nearly 14,000 people over the age of 65 for 3 years and examined the relationship between their consumption of green tea and their “functional disability”, i.e. difficulty in performing certain tasks. such as shopping, housework or even basic needs such as washing or dressing alone.

The results are very interesting: the elderly who regularly consumed green tea were much less at risk of being affected by functional limitations. The data shows that 2 times less people are affected by these limitations in the population consuming green tea on a regular basis. Remarkably, these people were on the whole less frail, more agile and endowed with better autonomy, all factors that play a vital role in maintaining a good quality of life.

These observations remind us that we must not confuse old age with illness. Even if the incidence of the vast majority of chronic diseases increases significantly with age, it is entirely possible to age in good health by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. In addition to a good diet, regular physical exercise and maintenance of a normal body weight, regular consumption of green tea represents an interesting modification for those who wish to age in good health.

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Tomata Y et al. Green tea consumption and the risk of incident functional disability in elderly Japanese: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr; 95: 732–739.

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