Matcha green tea is a very special type of green tea, with a high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immunostimulating power. But matcha tea, thanks to the manufacturing process, develops a particular composition of substances that work in synergy to reduce the harmful effects of stress on the brain, increasing attention and performance. This is what emerges from a recent scientific research published in the Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Japanese team (Baba et al, Nutrients, 2021).
The beneficial action of matcha tea
Matcha green tea is obtained, as well as other types of tea, from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Before harvesting, the tea plants are covered for twenty days to protect the tea from light. In this way, matcha develops a particular composition of substances beneficial for health. In matcha, in fact, catechins, theanine and caffeine work in synergy, which show an important action on the brain and on the body's reaction to stress.
Matcha and its action on the brain, the experiment
To better understand this action of matcha tea, the Japanese researchers decided to implement an experiment that involved 50 people, aged between 50 and 69 years. The volunteers were divided into three groups. The first group was asked to take a capsule containing matcha every day for all the duration of the experiment, namely twelve weeks. The second group was given a capsule of caffeine in the same amount as contained in the matcha tea capsule given to the first group, finally the third group took a placebo. Both the first day after taking the first capsule and at the end of the study, the study participants were subjected to a test that required great effort and concentration in order to recreate a stressful situation. Volunteers were then asked to undergo another test, this time designed to test cognitive function.
Matcha increases attention and performance
What emerged was that caffeine and matcha acted differently. In particular, caffeine intake has been shown to have benefits only in the short term by reducing response times to the cognitive function test. No other benefits in terms of attention and performance were noted. Instead, as far as matcha tea is concerned, this showed a lower ability than caffeine to reduce reaction times, but it acted effectively on attention and performance, despite the fact that stressful conditions had been induced. In particular, already after a single dose, the intake of matcha had increased the work capacity of the people and, after twelve weeks of taking the green tea capsule, attention, concentration and performance were further increased.
The synergy of active ingredients, conclusions
The explanation of what has been observed is that matcha acts on the one hand by stimulating neuronal activity, thanks to its caffeine content, but on the other, thanks to theanine, it counteracts the stress that is a condition that can cause cognitive decline. Matcha catechins also support cognitive function. Matcha therefore shows a more powerful action than caffeine alone in improving mental performance thanks to the synergistic action of active substances. Not only that, for an even more powerful effect, the consumption of matcha should be regular.