The advice to drink “enough” fluid every day is confusing. We hear that eight 8-ounce glasses or more of water a day should be a goal, but what if you drink tea or coffee every day? Does that count? Is one beverage better than the other? Let’s sip on some infused water while we explore these questions.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), about 20 percent of the fluid we take in every day comes from food and the rest from beverages. Generally, the NASEM recommends women get about 2.7 liters of fluid daily and men about 3.7 liters per day. Naturally, intake also depends on weight (a 95-pound woman needs less than one who weighs 160 pounds), activity level, and life stage. You can refer to a hydration calculator to help you determine your specific needs.
In addition to water, many other beverages can count toward your daily fluid needs. Some of them include tea, coffee, sparkling water, milk and plant-based beverages, kombucha, and coconut water. Alcohol is dehydrating, so it doesn’t count as a fluid. Soda is a fluid and does count, but since it is an unhealthy choice we try and steer clear of it.
The 20 percent or so that you get from foods can come from a variety of sources. Many vegetables have a 90 percent or greater water content, and fruits are also high. Some of the top foods for hydration, ranging from those containing about 85 percent water to 96 percent, are apples, pineapples, oranges, carrots, peaches, broccoli, kale, honeydew, cantaloupe, soy milk, skim milk, strawberries, spinach, watermelon, zucchini, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, celery, iceberg lettuce, and cucumbers.
Coffee Versus Tea
According to the NASEM, “caffeinated beverages can contribute as much as noncaffeinated options when it comes to counting fluids. But not everyone agrees. According to Catherine Waldrop, M.D., coffee is not as hydrating as drinking a glass of water. “Because it acts as a diuretic, I would count coffee as about half as much liquid as it really is.” Therefore an 8-ounce cup of coffee counts as 4 ounces of fluid.
If you are concerned about caffeine, however, brewed regular tea contains less caffeine than brewed regular coffee plus it contains l-theanine which won’t leave you jittery, and herbal teas typically are caffeine-free. Research shows that caffeine may not show its diuretic effects until you consume about 500 milligrams or more daily. That equals about 10 or more cups of caffeinated tea daily.
For the best hydrating benefits, therefore, herbal teas could be your best choice when considering coffees and teas, followed by decaf tea and coffee. Herbal teas are not made from tea leaves and so technically not teas, but they are made from dried flowers, roots, leaves, and seeds and are naturally free of caffeine. Therefore your cup of herbal tea can be counted the same as a cup of water for purposes of hydration.
Other Benefits of Tea
Numerous health benefits have been attributed to both hot and cold regular teas and herbal teas. Black, green, white, and oolong teas contain potent antioxidants called catechins that may help decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues.
Research shows, for example, that the polyphenols (plant compounds) in green tea can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 22 percent. Drinking three or more cups of green or black daily can reduce the risk of stroke by 21 percent. Herbal teas can provide a wide range of health benefits, depending on the tea you choose.
And Then There’s Water
Yes, water is the best hydrating fluid you can drink. Remembering to drink throughout the day is challenging for many people, so we suggest you bring an eco-friendly water bottle with you to work, in your car, to school, and on errands. If regular water is too boring for you, add lemon or lime slices, strawberries, or mint to liven it up. If you want to bypass the work of cutting up fruit, you can try Bigelow Botanicals Cold Water Infusions, which puts all the fruity goodness into one convenient infusion tea bag that you can add to your cold water.
Staying well-hydrated is essential for overall health. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to function properly. Even a 2 percent decline in hydration can cause symptoms such as mental confusion, weakness, dry mouth, fatigue, heart palpitations, headache, and dark urine. Know your fluid needs and follow them by drinking water, choosing tea over coffee at least part of the time, and eating foods high in water.
Republished from NaturallySavvy.com
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