World Mental Health Day: how tea and talk may be more beneficial than you think!

A ‘nice cup of tea’ has been, for decades, associated with healing; for making things better or just as an excuse to sit down and talk. In fact, ‘tea and talk’ is the theme for this year’s awareness of World Mental Health Day, an international event which is annually held on 10th October. The event aims to bring general awareness to, and about, mental health issues, and this year’s focus surrounds the association between mental health disorders and chronic illness.

If you are participating in an organised tea and talk event this year, you might want to choose your tea wisely. Whilst ‘milk and two sugars’ may well be a common favourite way of drinking your brew, swapping to green tea this Sunday may help the way forward to feeling a little more cheery! Green tea has been, for a long time reported to have various beneficial effects (eg, anti-stress response and anti-inflammatory effects) on human health. It is these functions that are thought, in part to be associated with the development and progression of depressive symptoms. Regular consumption of green tea not only has benefits in reducing stress and therefore and depressive symptoms (Niu et al, 2009), but may even help reduce cognitive impairment by helping to protect from neuronal damage (Kuriyama, et al, 2009). Green tea is a favourite with populations such as the Japanese. Probably best known for their high intake of omega-3 from fish and other seafoods, alongside low intake of red meat, diet and lifestyle within the Japanese population plays a major role in contributing towards their low incidence of depression, as well as chronic diseases.

However, if the green type is not your cup of tea, and you prefer to stick to something more familiar like PG tips, then worry not. Green tea extract, probably more noted for its use in slimming products is widely available in supplement form. As is often the case, supplements can provide a useful alternative when the real deal just simply isn’t on the menu.

Niu K, Hozawa A, Kuriyama S, Ebihara S, Guo H, Nakaya N, Ohmori-Matsuda K, Takahashi H, Masamune Y, Asada M, Sasaki S, Arai H, Awata S, Nagatomi R, Tsuji I. (2009) Green tea consumption is associated with depressive symptoms in the elderly. Am J Clin Nutr. 90:1615-22.

Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, Shimazu T, Matsui T, Ebihara S, Awata S, Nagatomi R, Arai H, Tsuji I. (2006) Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. Am J Clin Nutr. 83:355-61.