By Jim Leffman
A daily cup of tea or coffee can keep you stronger in old age, a new study claims.
Researchers say that drinking coffee and tea at midlife may be associated with a reduced likelihood of physical frailty in late life.
Caffeine is the key and those who drank four cups of coffee a day did best, though those who drank black and green tea also benefitted.
The team from the National University of Singapore looked at 12,000 participants, aged 45 to 74 years old, with a follow-up period of 20 years.
Professor Koh Woon Puay, of the Healthy Longevity Translational Research Programme at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the University, said: “Coffee and tea are mainstay beverages in many societies around the world, including Singapore.
“Our studies show that consumption of these caffeinated drinks at midlife may be associated with a reduced likelihood of physical frailty in late life.
“However, further studies are still needed to confirm these longitudinal associations, and to investigate if these effects on physical frailty are mediated by caffeine or other chemical compounds.”
Participants were interviewed for the first time at midlife, at average age of 53 years, and asked about their habit of drinking caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks and food such as chocolate in terms of frequency and portion size.
In follow-up interviews when the participants were of an average age of 73 years, they were interviewed and asked, amongst other things, their weight, and a specific question, “Do you feel full of energy?”
They were also examined for handgrip strength, and the time taken to complete the timed up-and-go (TUG) test.
Physical frailty was defined as having at least two of the four components of weight loss, exhaustion, slowness and weakness.
Coffee and tea accounted for 84 percent and 12 percent of total caffeine in the group.
More than two-thirds (68.5 percent)drank coffee daily. In this group, 52.9 percent of them drank one cup a day, 42.2 percent consumed two to three cups per day while the remaining 4.9 percent drank four or more cups per day.
Tea drinkers were classified into four categories according to their frequencies: never, at least once a month, at least once a week, and daily drinkers.
Results showed that drinking coffee, black tea or green tea at midlife was independently associated with a significantly reduced likelihood of physical frailty at late life.
Participants who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had significantly reduced odds of physical frailty at late life, compared to participants who did not drink coffee daily.
Those who drank black tea and green tea daily also had significantly reduced odds of physical frailty, compared to non-tea drinkers.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, concluded higher caffeine intake was associated with lower odds of physical frailty, regardless of the source of caffeine.
Amongst the four components of physical frailty, the associations were stronger for the measured tests of handgrip strength and TUG, getting out of a chair to a fixed point a few meters away, than for the self-reported measures of weight loss and exhaustion.
Other research has shown caffeine increases proliferation in muscle cells and improves muscle weight in mice.
In addition to caffeine, coffee and tea also contain rich bioactive polyphenols, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and have been associated with reduced risk for diseases that increase frailty, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases.
However, further research is necessary to identify the actual ingredients and mechanisms underlying the association between coffee, tea and physical function in humans
Produced in association with SWNS Talker