If your idea of optimal hydration comes in the form of water, sports drinks, juices and smoothies — not coffee and tea — you aren’t alone. For whatever reason, many people around the world assume the morning pick-me-ups are dehydrating and would never consider counting them toward those recommended eight cups per day.
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Sure, caffeine is a mild diuretic (i.e., it forces your kidneys to excrete extra water and sodium from the body via urination). Hence, the reason you pee more when drinking them. It makes perfect sense this process could leave you dehydrated, right? Not according to Dr. Daniel Vigil, an associate clinical professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “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],” Vigil told Time.
While you will be losing more urine by drinking a cup of coffee, it won’t be more than you are taking in. Your body simply absorbs as much fluid as it needs and expels the rest, he explained. Even better? Your daily dose of caffeine actually hydrates you and totally “can and should” count toward those recommended eight cups of water per day.
If you still aren’t convinced by this too-good-to-be-true-sounding news, science backs it all up. In fact, coffee’s dehydration myth was formally debunked back in 2014 by a study published in PLOS ONE.
In addition to being hydrating, drinking coffee has other health benefits because it is packed with high amounts of antioxidants, flavonoids and other protective chemical elements. Moderate intake has been linked to the reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and, even better, a recent study found that those who drink a cup of coffee a day are 12 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory and kidney disease than people who don’t drink any. Add another cup or two of daily java, and the risk of death from those diseases is reduced by 18 percent. Awesome, right?
Tea also has plenty of health-boosting properties. It is high in flavonoid antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of cancer. It offers cardiovascular benefits too. One study found green and oolong teas reduced the risk of hypertension, while another found the antioxidants in green, black and oolong help lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and improve artery function.
If you start getting a headache or suffer any other symptoms after your morning dose of caffeine, it’s likely not due to dehydration, says Vigil. You might just be sensitive to caffeine. The FDA has cited 400 milligrams per day as a safe amount for healthy adults. The average cup of coffee contains around 100 milligrams, while a cup of caffeinated tea can range from 26 milligrams for green up to 120 milligrams for black.
So, no, coffee and tea aren’t bad for you after all. Just make sure to keep your caffeine consumption in check and you should be good.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised that coffee and tea can actually be hydrating? Do you drink coffee and tea for hydration? How many cups do you consume per day?