Combination of Green Tea and Iron Limit Benefits in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Green tea loses its potential in IBD as an antioxidant after a meal rich in iron.

The consumption of both green tea and dietary iron could reduce the health benefits found in green tea for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a recent study found.

“If you drink green tea after an iron-rich meal, the main compound in the tea will bind to the iron,” said Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State. “When that occurs, the green tea loses its potential as an antioxidant. In order to get the benefits of green tea, it may be best to not consume it with iron-rich foods.”

The results of the study preformed on a laboratory mouse model of IBD were published in the American Journal of Pathology, where the main compound found in green tea called EGCG was found to inhibit myeloperoxidase, a pro-inflammatory enzyme that’s released by white blood cells during inflammation.

Although the inactivation of myeloperoxidase could be beneficial in alleviating IBD flare-ups, EGCG is unable to inhibit myeloperoxidase when it’s consumed simultaneously with iron.

Furthermore, EGCG can also become inactive by an abundant host protein found in inflammatory conditions.

“It is important that IBD patients who take both iron supplements and green tea know how 1 nutrient affects the other,” Vijay-Kumar said. “The information from the study could be helpful for both people who enjoy green tea and drink it for its general benefits, as well as people who use it specifically to treat illnesses and conditions.”

The results from the iron rich diet combined with green tea were found to apply with iron supplements as well.

In fact, many IBD patients will be prescribed iron supplements, but ingesting green tea and iron supplements at the same time would be counterproductive because both nutrients bind to each other and therefore cancel one another out.

“The benefit of green tea depends on the bioavailability of its active components,” said first study author Beng San Yeoh. “It is not only a matter of what we eat, but also when we eat and what else we eat with it.”