Many people are in the habit of drinking tea first thing in the morning. In fact, they cannot imagine starting their day without taking a sip of the piping hot beverage, which is extremely popular in India and among the Indian diaspora.

But, have you ever wondered if it is a good idea to have tea on an empty stomach?

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According to Dr Rohini Patil, MBBS, nutritionist and CEO of Nutracy Lifestyle, tea is the ultimate comfort drink with many health benefits; it has antioxidants that boost immunity and metabolism.

But, drinking it empty stomach every morning may upset your tummy or trigger stomach acids and wreck your digestion, she warns, adding that morning tea can affect the washing out of bacteria from your mouth to your gut, which can “disrupt your metabolism and cause indigestion and heartburn” — solid reasons to drink tea while eating something.

Patil lists the following side effects; read on.

1. Headaches: You may have had a cup to reduce your headache, but it may be the very reason behind it, due to the presence of caffeine in tea. Drinking plenty of water before going to bed can help with this.

2. Indigestion and dehydration: Drinking tea on an empty stomach can form gas in your digestive system. Tea is diuretic, it causes you to constantly urinate and frequent urination, if not replenished with frequent hydration, can cause dehydration.

“Your body is already dehydrated due to hours of sleep at night and when you drink tea in the morning as soon as you wake up, it causes dehydration. Theophylline, a chemical substance in tea, can have a dehydrating effect on coprolite, which might also lead to constipation,” says the expert.

3. Inhibit absorption of nutrients: Tea has an element called tannin, which hampers the absorption of iron from food; caffeine can reduce the absorption of nutrients.

Morning tea can affect the washing out of bacteria from your mouth to your gut, which can “disrupt your metabolism and cause indigestion and heartburn”. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

4. Acidity: Tea disrupts the acid base of your stomach fluids, and the alkaline balance, which causes acidity. With acid reflux, you can feel pain in your lower chest, referred to as heartburn. Heartburn is a part of that acidic tea reaction in your stomach.

Instead of drinking tea on an empty stomach, do the following:

According to Patil, you can have it along with your breakfast, or with some snacks. Alternatively, you can have nuts before having tea. You can even replace sugar with jaggery, which is healthier and contains a number of vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium. Jaggery also has a positive effect on digestion.

“A warm glass of water can keep you healthy. The best time to drink tea is around 3 pm, as it can improve the immune system and prevent flus and colds,” the expert concludes.

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