The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently put forth noteworthy advice regarding two of India's favourite beverages: tea and coffee. In their latest set of dietary guidelines, developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), the emphasis is on moderation and balance in consumption habits.

While acknowledging the cultural significance of tea and coffee in India, the ICMR is cautioning against excessive indulgence due to potential health implications. The top medical panel researchers explained that tea and coffee “contain caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system and induces physiological dependence".

Delving into specifics, the guidelines highlight the caffeine content present in various types of tea and coffee. For instance, a 150ml serving of brewed coffee packs anywhere between 80 to 120mg of caffeine, while instant coffee contains approximately 50 to 65mg. Tea, on the other hand, ranges from 30 to 65mg per serving. With a recommended daily caffeine intake capped at 300mg, it's clear that moderation is key.

One particularly noteworthy caution from the ICMR is to steer

clear of tea or coffee consumption for at least an hour before and after meals. The reason behind this advice lies in the presence of tannins in these beverages, which hinder the absorption of iron in the body. This interference could potentially lead to iron deficiency and related health issues like anaemia. Moreover, excessive coffee consumption has been linked to elevated blood pressure and cardiac irregularities, underlining the importance of mindful consumption.

However, not all is doom and gloom. The guidelines highlight that consuming tea without milk can offer various health benefits, including improved blood circulation and a reduced risk of conditions like coronary artery disease and stomach cancer.

In addition to the tea and coffee advice, the ICMR advocates for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and seafood. Simultaneously, they advise limiting the intake of oil, sugar, and salt.

In essence, while our beloved cup of chai or coffee may offer comfort and cultural significance, it's essential to approach consumption with awareness and moderation to safeguard our health in the long run.
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