Sunday, August 5, 2018

Are coffee and tea dehydrating?

Most people have heard about drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Why?  One reason is to stay hydrated.  And it is important to stay hydrated as it helps regulate your body temperature, prevent headaches and muscle fatigue, helps your brain.  But most people also think to stay hydrated you have to drink plain water or drinks like seltzer water or sports drinks like Gatorade.  But what about tea or coffee drinkers?  Are these drinks hydrating or dehydrating you?
A common myth is that coffee or tea dehydrate you.  And to some extent caffeine can be mildly dehydrating.  This means caffeine can act as a mild diuretic flushing out water along with sodium.  

So, does drinking tea or coffee with its caffeine lead to dehydrating you?
According to Dr. Daniel Vigil of the University of California Los Angeles the answer isn’t what you may think.  “When you drink a cup of coffee or you drink a glass of iced tea, you are necessarily taking in a volume of fluid along with that dose of caffeine”.  The caffeine does act as a mild diuretic but you won’t put out more fluid than you take in.  For that reason, the coffee and tea you drink are not really dehydrating your body.  Your body absorbs what it needs and gets rid of the rest of the fluid.  

Should coffee and tea count towards your “8 cups a day”?  Absolutely says Dr. Vigil.  Probably not surprising to those who live in the South.  Southerners are known for hydrating in summer by drinking iced tea.  Right now, I am enjoying a glass of Crystal Light Peach iced tea.  Add some fresh slices of peaches to this iced tea for a great summer beverage.  Tea and coffee not only hydrate but also provide those important antioxidants that are so good for our health. 
Peach iced tea - add fresh peach slices
What about sports drinks?
Sports drinks were designed for athletes involved in sports like football on a hot summer day.  Sports drinks provide electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that are lost in sweat.  They also have calories in the form of carbs to replace the energy used as fuel.  But the weekend warrior really doesn’t need sports drinks.  Consumer Reports notes that a man walking for 30 minutes and burning 150 calories who then drinks 100 calories easily in a sports drink., almost negates the benefit of a brisk walk to burn off some calories.  This guy could easily rehydrate with plain water or at least choose a no-calorie or low-calorie sports drink. 

What about vitamin water?
Sounds healthy doesn’t it.  Water + vitamins.   How could that not be good for you?  Often the vitamins added are ones you already easily get from the food you eat.  And if you are taking a vitamin pill or enjoy some vitamin fortified food like many breakfast cereals, you could be getting too much of some vitamins.  If you do want the vitamin water, look for water without all the added sugar.
WebMD notes that water “is the best way to rehydrate your body”.  However, they also note that “iced tea, coffee, and other drinks that contain caffeine are second best to good old-fashioned water when you’re trying to stay hydrated.”  

What are some other beverages that you may not be counting towards those “8 glasses a day”? 
Milk – milk is mostly water.  You not only hydrate with milk but you also add some important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D to your day.  Ben Desbrow, professor of sports nutrition at Griffith University in Australia says, “Milk is an ideal recovery beverage.”  Interesting research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 looked at various beverages including sports drinks, cola, juice, coffee tea and milk to find which beverage was the most hydrating.  Surprisingly, they found that milk was actually more hydrating than plain water or even sports drinks.  They did note that sports drinks are hydrating but milk actually performed better.  This is probably why many guys at the gym bring milk with them to drink post work-out. 
Juice – 100% juice is also mostly water.  Like milk, juice adds other important nutrients to your day like vitamin C and potassium.  Coming in from the heat?  Pour yourself some juice on ice.  Very refreshing. 
Smoothies – many people enjoy a smoothie for breakfast or a snack.  Full of vitamins and minerals and also you are hydrating your body with a smoothie.

How do you know if you are becoming dehydrated? 
Easy. If you are thirsty, you are becoming dehydrated.  Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration.

When trying to get your “8 glasses a day” include in your count that glass of milk, your smoothie, the cup (or two) of morning coffee, the glass of juice, the iced tea in the afternoon.  All count towards your “8 glasses a day”.  Or make your own infused water.  So easy to do with all the fresh fruit in season right now.  Add some watermelon or peaches to fresh water.  Culinary Hill recommends using infused water about 2-4 hours after you make it. Or they say you can infuse the water overnight in your fridge.  See their 8 Infused Water Recipes  such as:

Strawberry, Basil and Lemon
5 cups water
1 cup ice cubes
½ cup cut up strawberries
5 basil leaves, torn
1 lemon thinly sliced

Sources: hydrated, answer, WebMD, Desbrow, 2016, Thirst  Image sources:  iced tea, milk , coffee

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