People over the age of 65 should not drink strong tea during meals, advises a report published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in April 2021. 

The report, titled Scientific Recommendations for Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for Older Adults, provides comprehensive dietary recommendations to enhance the nutritional well-being of people over 65 and improve health.

Written by the FSAI’s Scientific Committee at the request of the Department of Health for scientific advice, the report offers guidelines that, as part of an overall lifestyle approach, enable older adults to live life optimally.

One of the report’s recommendations was that older individuals should only drink strong tea between meals and not while eating because the beverage can interfere with the absorption of both iron and zinc, reports.

Other guidelines include avoiding the consumption of salty foods, drinking adequate amounts of fluids to avoid dehydration, and eating a more protein-dense diet to stimulate muscle protein.

Because older adults represent a diverse group, the guidelines are meant to accommodate differences in health status and differences in the needs of those living independently, semi-independently or in residential care.

“This report sets out a number of science-based recommendations that will underpin national guidelines being prepared by the Department of Health, to support optimal nutritional status and health of older adults in Ireland," said Dr. Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the FSAI.

"Due to considerable variations in the aging process, food-based dietary guidelines are best tailored to functional capacity rather than chronological age."

According to the report, people over 65 are the fastest-growing age group in Ireland.

Ita Saul, Chair of the FSAI’s Public Health Nutrition Subcommittee, said: “On retirement, people in good health can look forward to entering the ‘golden years’ of their third age, filled with many possibilities and interests.

"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."

You can read the full report here.

*Originally published in April 2021. Updated in January 2023.