Many people believe that taking caffeinated substances will dehydrate them. Thus, people end up relying on pure water alone as a source of fluids, brushing off tea intake.
The question is, will tea dehydrate you, and is there any truth to these claims? Tea is not likely to dehydrate you. Tea is a beneficial drink for the most part in that it comprises antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming tea should thus benefit you more than it can harm you. Sugars and creamers take away from the benefits of this drink and could dehydrate you.
How can tea dehydrate you?
Well, many people believe that the only right way to hydrate is by taking water. It probably owes to the message passed on by doctors. They insist that you should have at least eight glasses of water each day. And with this information, you may think that tea does not help matters.
You will even come across sources stating that a cup of tea does not add to your fluid intake. Some even state that you should add one more glass of water to your fluid intake for every cup of tea.
Suppose you drink five cups of tea, would you end up drinking thirteen cups of water every day? That would be quite a lot. The interesting thing is that tea and water have pretty much the same effect on your hydration levels.
The caffeine content in tea is often in question when it comes to the hydrating properties of this beverage. You see, caffeine is a stimulant that has diuretic effects on the body.
When you consume it in large amounts such as those found in energy drinks, you end up urinating more than usual. With this basis, people believe that tea can also have this effect owing to the presence of caffeine.
But that is not quite the case. For the diuretic effects to take place, two things have to be in place. One, the caffeine content should be higher than 350 mg. That is about six cups of tea, which is quite high.
Secondly, you should not have built up a tolerance to the stimulant. If these factors are not present, the diuretic effect is not likely to take place. Thus, getting dehydrated would be a long shot.
Also, you do not only get your hydration from water. You can also get hydrated by eating fruits and other watery foods—these work in adding to the fluids in your body. Thus, anyone telling you that the only way to stay hydrated is by drinking pure water is lying to you.
Your kidneys can filter fluids and extract water, which goes into accomplishing several tasks in the body. So tea can be part of your fluid intake without harming you.
Why tea is thought to dehydrate you
To understand why people think that tea dehydrates the body, you have to know where the caffeine-effect myth originated. It all comes down to a study conducted in 1928.
According to the results, caffeine led to more urination and put the subjects at risk of dehydration. The funny thing is that the study involved three male subjects who consumed caffeine over two winters.
During the study period, the men would consume high amounts of tea over short periods. They also drank coffee as well as water laced with caffeine extracts. All this while, their urine output was under test.
The research also went into the effects of tolerance. When the subjects went on a pause, they recorded more urine output than when they continually consumed caffeine.
This study’s results were widely accepted, with people believing that caffeine could dehydrate the body. Even now, people still believe these results, without knowing how they came about.
However, what they do not know is that tea has the same effect as water. If you drink a pint of water, you will urinate as much as you would have had you taken tea. After a while, you will feel thirsty, regardless of what you consumed.
And you will reach for something to quench that thirst. It is a cycle. Thus, the results shown in the study regarding urine volume output do not hold much water.
As for tolerance, there is a simple explanation. When you introduce caffeine to the body, the system takes a while to adapt to the presence of the stimulant. That is why people report jitters and excitement after having a cup or two of coffee in their first instances.
Over time, the body gets accustomed to the presence of the stimulant. You find that one cup no longer has much of an effect on your system, and you end up needing more to get going. That is the effect of tolerance.
The same happens regarding diuretic effects. At first, you will experience the need to pee more often than you did in the past. Over time, this effect reduces and disappears. In some cases, the frequency increase may last only a day.
With the information from this study, people started becoming wary of caffeinated drinks. It did not help that they had a bad rep to them. The psychoactive nature of caffeine did not help matters, and people started shunning the stimulant.
They believed that among the risks associated with drinking it was its effects on fluid balance. But what they did not consider was the amount needed to have an impact.
In the study, the researchers used high amounts of caffeine over a short time. In the same way, you need to drink large doses for the effects to show. Caffeine is a mild diuretic and will not affect you in small doses.
So, will tea dehydrate you?
The results from these studies show that tea is not likely to dehydrate you. However, these results are consistent with moderation, which you should have in place.
Tea is a beneficial drink for the most part in that it comprises antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming tea should thus benefit you more than it can harm you.
But there is a catch to this which lies in how you consume it and how much you drink. You see, sugars and creamers take away from the benefits of this drink and could dehydrate you.
Thus, for every teaspoon of sugar you add, you get closer to the dehydration mark. Also, the more caffeine you consume, the more likely you are to suffer dehydration.
It helps to be careful with quantity and additives. That way, you can maintain fluid balance; enjoy a boost in mood and some weight loss benefits.
Water as a sole hydration product can get boring fast. Instead of working with two liters of water, work with two liters of fluids, including tea. Hitting your daily goals will be much easier. Stay hydrated!