Older adults should not drink strong tea with their meals, according to new national recommendations for nutritional well-being.
The new guidance from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) notes that strong tea should only be consumed between meals as it can interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc if taken with food.
It was included in a new report aimed at helping people over the age of 65, “live life optimally to their individual potential.”
The recommendations will underpin new national guidelines being prepared by the Department of Health.
The report notes that the over-65s are a diverse group, and puts forward a range of different dietary approaches for people with different levels of health and fitness.
In addition to the new guidance on strong tea, the FSAI is advising older people to move to a more protein-dense diet, including foods like meat poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.
Men are advised to take in two litres of fluids every day, while women are advised to drink 1.6 litres.
Ita Saul, Chair of the FSAI’s Public Health Nutrition Subcommittee said there is a noticeable difference in functional ability of older adults alive today compared even with 30 years ago.
“On retirement, people in good health can look forward to entering the ‘golden years’ of their third age, filled with many possibilities and interests,” she said.
“The preservation of muscle mass and skeletal strength are both critical to maintaining functional autonomy and independence as we get older. This report looks at the positive role nutritional intake can have in this population group to enable them to live life, and to live it to the full.”
The report notes that the sense of taste diminishes with age and warns against eating too much salt. It recommends the use of herbs and spices to increase flavour.
It also encourages people who are not at risk of obesity to avoid weight-loss diets in order to prevent loss of muscle mass.