Cup of tea with your meal? … Not such a good idea…

I am not an anti-tea drinker. I enjoy my tea (in a reasonable amount) but what I pay attention to, as well as the quantity, is the time when I drink tea. Specifically, I try and avoid mealtimes. Why?

Because if you drink tea, or any other liquid for that matter, during your meal, you dilute the acid content of your stomach . Why is that bad? Because the stomach’s acidity is required to break down food properly. Stomach glands produce a gastric juice rich in acid (Hydrochloric Acid) and enzymes which through the contractions of the stomach muscles will be mixed to the food. This will result in breaking down the food and reducing it to a solution called the chyme which will then go to the small intestine.

It is recommended to drink (any liquid) 15 minutes before your meal and 1 hour after. A few sips are OK during the meal but not full glasses.

Another reason why tea, specifically this time, might be bad during mealtimes is that tea is suspected to prevent the absorption of certain minerals in our food. Consequently you get less nutrients if you drink tea while you eat. Tea contains phenolic compounds which inhibit iron absorption. Iron deficiency ultimately causes anemia. People with a poor iron status (infants, toddlers, teenage girls, pre-menopausal women and people aged 75 and over) should avoid drinking tea at meal time and up to 1 hour after (i.e. when iron is being absorbed by the body from the ingested food).

Think about it next time you eat and enjoy your tea or drink before you eat. Another added benefit of drinking before your meal is that it takes the edge out of your hunger. As a result, you eat slightly less…perfect if you’re trying to watch your weight. By the way, if you are trying to watch your weight, don’t drink sugary drinks, it would be counter-productive.

On this note, it’s 10:30am and I’m going to enjoy a nice cup of tea!

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