A new study from Chonquing in China has now revealed how green tea boosts brain cell production in an area of the brain called the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain is associated with memory, especially in encoding from short to long-term memory. It is also the area often affected early in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease where one of the earliest symptoms manifested is memory loss.
The brain's ability to produce new brain cells is called neurogenesis. So far only a couple of areas of the brain have been shown to be able to do this: the hippocampus and the olfactory bulbs (associated with our sense of smell).
In this study the researchers examined the role of a particular chemical in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate for short). EGCG was found in mice, to boost the production of neural progenitor cells, those cells, which can differentiate into new brain cells.
So enjoying a few cups of green tea every day may be a good way to help maintain your memory and enhance your brain's natural ability to produce new brain cells.
Yanyan Wang, Maoquan Li, Xueqing Xu, Min Song, Huansheng Tao, Yun Bai. Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation and sonic hedgehog pathway activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2012; 56 (8): 1292 DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201200035