Think about the world, and think about coffee. The world consumes at least 1.6 billion cups of coffee on a daily basis. When you consider tea, that figure nearly doubles. As such, it is easy to conclude that people generally enjoy drinking tea and coffee, probably due to the taste or the fact that the drinks stimulate the brain to keep people awake for longer.
Normally, we are encouraged to drink 8 glasses of water a day. The water in coffee or tea is not considered as part of these 8 glasses because there are beliefs that these drinks have dehydrating properties.
This article aims to set the record straight by clearly looking at the evidence and drawing conclusions. When you get to the end of this article, you should have figured out whether tea and coffee are actually diuretics.
Most people don’t believe tea and coffee consumption add to your daily liquid intake as these drinks are assumed to be dehydrating. However, the question is whether evidence exists to prove the same.
Well, although there’s a variety of substances contained in tea and coffee, the one researchers put most emphasis on is caffeine. Even so, there are not nearly enough studies conducted on the same.
What Does Diuretic Mean?
Diuretics are commonly found in natural compounds, and their effect when consumed is normally to increase urine formation and output. As such, they provide a healthy way for your body to dispose of excess fluids and salts.
Prescription diuretics, commonly known as water pills, are a scientific invention (tablets) designed to help increase your urine production and overall urination. These prescription tablets are mostly used in the treatment of heart conditions, kidney disease, blood pressure, and edema.
There are certain herbs and plants that are regarded as natural diuretics. These include ginger, dandelion, hibiscus, parsley, and caffeine. If you have been prescribed diuretics pills, it is not ideal to replace your prescription with these substances, and it is important to always consult with your doctor about any concerns you may have.
What Does Research Say?
In a study conducted to compare the hydration levels between a group of people drinking pure water and another drinking the same amount of tea for 12 hours, the hydration levels in both groups remained the same throughout the day.
A similar study with one group taking coffee against another taking pure water showed that those taking coffee exhibited a 41% increase in the amount of urine produced and a consequent rise in their overall sodium and potassium secretion.
It is worth noting that these people stayed off caffeine in the days leading to the study. As such these results cannot be considered fitting for people inured to coffee consumption.
In another study, the hydration levels between people who consumed water and those who took coffee remained the same. The men in the study consumed 4 glasses of coffee on a daily basis, which is quite a lot compared to the amount consumed by the average coffee drinker.
The results showed no evidence of dehydration for these subjects when compared to those who consumed pure water. These conflicting results from the two studies leave us stranded on which findings to actually go with.
Considering these results, it is accurate to say that although we happen to visit the loo quite often when we drink tea or coffee, it is no different from the times when we drink water.
The problem comes in when we try to compare our urination habits post-coffee or tea consumption to when we have not been consuming any water or otherwise any hydrating liquids whatsoever. If you were to drink water instead of tea, you’d likely notice the same results.
Is Tea a Diuretic? Why is it Believed to Cause Dehydration?
In a 1920s study, researchers came to the conclusion that caffeine was a diuretic. As such, since tea contains a considerable amount of caffeine, it was automatically assumed to fall in the category. Before coming to this conclusion, it is important to understand how diuretics work.
Ingesting high volumes of caffeine automatically creates a loophole for the caffeine to pass from your gastrointestinal tract into your bloodstream and then straight to your liver. The enzymes in the liver then break it down into a variety of compounds that change the manner in which your organs function.
Normally, once in the liver, the caffeine increases the flow of blood into your kidneys, which in turn makes your body produce increased amounts of urine. As such, your body excretes more water, which could otherwise be vital for keeping your body hydrated, through urination.
Diuretics draw water from your bloodstream and pass it out through urination. As a result, they reduce the fluid volume of your veins to decrease your blood pressure. If not carefully consumed, they can easily lead to dehydration. Always consult your doctor before starting on any diuretics.
When you assess the studies on caffeine and its potential to cause dehydration, the diuretic effect is barely definitive, especially when dealing with the consumption of realistic amounts of this substance. In this case, coffee and tea barely contain enough amounts of caffeine to cause the diuretic effect.
Does Tea and Coffee Dehydrate You?
The issue of tea and coffee and whether they hydrate or dehydrate you is quite easy to understand. The problem comes in from the numerous content easily available online that’s quite misleading. Once you understand all the factors, then it is easy to know whether your coffee or tea drinking habits contribute positively or negatively to your body’s hydration.
That said, research shows that for caffeine to have a diuretic effect you must consume it in very high doses. Some sources say 250-300 mg of caffeine is what you must consume to experience its diuretic effect, while others claim that you need to ingest at least 500 mg.
When converted to coffee cups, it translates to about 4-12 cups. This figure also varies depending on the coffee or tea you consume and the concentration of caffeine it contains.
It goes without saying that if you are an ardent coffee consumer, and you can easily ingest anywhere between 250 to 500 mg of caffeine daily then it is likely that you will experience its diuretic effects.
It is also important to note that the level of diuretics experienced varies per person depending on their lifestyle and factors such as physiology, health status, diet, and even genetics.
However, there’s a difference between experiencing the diuretic effect, and actually suffering from dehydration. Normally, caffeine won’t cause serious diuretics to the extent that you actually face the risk of dehydration. It is simply likely to increase your urine production, but not really make you dehydrated.
When you consume any liquids, your body automatically ingests as much fluid as it needs and excretes the rest through urine. As such, teas and coffee consumption can cause your body to produce more urine, but that doesn’t mean that you lose fluids that your body still needs.
In a recent study, researchers found that consuming 300mg of caffeine, or approximately 3.5 to 8 cups of coffee or tea, increases your urine production by a mere 109 ml as compared to when you ingest a similar quantity of non-caffeinated drinks.
In another research in the British Journal of Nutrition, where participants drank only tea for the entire12-hour duration of the study, the results showed them to have similar hydration levels to participants who consumed the same amount of pure, boiled water.
It is important to understand that adequate fluid volume is essential for supporting effective body function. Every part of your body needs water, starting from your cells to your organs.
Besides, healthy volumes of water in your system allow you to lead a healthier, more productive lifestyle. Body fluid content helps nourish your body, energize you, lubricate your joints, maintain a balanced electrolyte level, safeguard your tissues, and get rid of bacteria.
What’s The Recommended Volume Of Fluid Intake Per Day?
It is commonly believed that 8 glasses of water a day, serves your body’s liquid needs effectively. However, the question is whether this amount is standard for all people regardless of other factors.
Well, you already know that your body needs plenty of fluids on a daily basis. And even more so during hot days and on those days when you are particularly active. As such, keeping hydrated should be part of your daily routine as your body generally needs it.
As much as water is vital for the normal functioning of your body, you don’t necessarily have to drink plain water to stay hydrated. Your body can easily draw water from everything you consume starting from food to beverages.
In fact, 20 percent of your overall fluid content comes from food and the rest from beverages including tea and coffee. As such, it is vital that you maintain a healthy diet and consume a lot of fluids.
Definitely, most researchers and medical personnel recommend the consumption of enough amounts of pure water on a daily basis. However, it is important to note that coffee and tea are mainly 80-90% water if not more.
As such, consuming these drinks is effective in increasing your body’s overall hydration. Besides, the amount of water you consume when taking tea or coffee far outweighs the caffeine and the possibility of experiencing any diuretic effects.
Drinking a glass of water or a large coffee mg would probably have the same effect on your hydration. This is especially accurate if you are a healthy individual without any underlying conditions that have to do with your body’s water volume.
Also if you generally lead a healthy lifestyle and constantly engage in healthy diets and overall healthy feeding habits. In most cases, however, you don’t even have to be a health freak. As long as you are not overboard unhealthy, coffee consumption should not pose diuretic effects to your body.
Well, you know now that caffeine is not a threat to your health, but it gets even better. Studies have shown that men and habitual caffeine users are even more immune to the diuretic effects of the substance.
Therefore, if you have been a fervent tea or coffee taker and have been practicing the habit for a while, it is likely that you won’t visit the loo as much as a new consumer would. Keep enjoying your caffeine, and stop worrying about diuretics or dehydration.
There Are Many Types Of Teas… Are They All Potentially Diuretic?
Herbal teas are quite diverse; from chamomile to rosehip, to peppermint. They all bring different flavors and benefits to the body. However, they have one thing in common. They contain 0% Camellia sinensis leaf extract.
They mostly comprise extracts from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, fruits, and seeds of different plants. As such, they lack caffeine and are mainly recognized as herbal infusions as opposed to types of teas.
Since they have 0% caffeine, they are unlikely to impose any diuretic effects on your body. Quite the contrary really, as they tend to have similar hydrating effects as pure water.
Black tea and green tea are both categorized as traditional teas and normally they comprise somewhere between 5-20 mg and 40-80 mg of caffeine for decaffeinated and caffeinated teas respectively.
Considering the amounts of caffeine, you would need to consume a considerably high volume of caffeine on a daily basis to experience the mildest diuretic effect. The best part is always that the benefits of the liquid consumed together with the caffeine heavily outweigh the potential detriments.
Different Types Of Teas
1. Caffeinated Teas
The various oolong teas, black, white, and green teas are all caffeinated. The caffeine in these teas normally comes from Camellia sinensis leaves. Each gram of tea contains between 16-19 mg of caffeine.
The average teacup has 2 grams of tea leaves, which means 240 ml cup of tea contains approximately 33-38 mg of caffeine. These specifics mainly apply to white and green teas; black and oolong teas tend to contain a higher caffeine quotient.
It is important to understand that the caffeine quotient in various types of teas varies considerably, some providing up to 120 mg caffeine in a 240ml cup. Longer brewed tea tends to contain a higher amount of caffeine.
For better understanding, note that a 240 ml cup of coffee delivers 102-200 mg of caffeine. While the same amount of energy drink provides at least 160 mg of caffeine.
Of all caffeinated drinks, tea provides the least amount of caffeine into your system. However, if consumed in high quantities, it is likely to affect your body’s hydration status.
2. Herbal Teas
There are so many varieties of herbal teas. The most common are chamomile, rosehip, and peppermint. Herbal teas are made from the leaves, stems, roots, seeds, flowers, and fruits of different plants.
These tinctures, however, contain 0% Camellia sinensis plant leaf extract (source of caffeine). Since they are mostly free of caffeine, they are considered more herbal tinctures than teas. Also, they will never make you dehydrated.
3. Hybrid Variations
Normally, herbal teas don’t contain any caffeine whatsoever, but there are a few cases of mixes that add caffeine-containing ingredients. Yerba mate, for example, is a traditional South African drink that is continuously increasing in popularity across the globe.
Produced from the Ilex paraguariensis plant’s dried leaves and twigs, it provides 85 mg caffeine per 240 ml cup of tea. This specific infusion contains a higher caffeine quotient than a normal cup of tea but less than what’s contained in a normal cup of coffee.
Although these hybrid variations are not so common, they normally contain caffeine. A few examples include guarana, yaupon, guayusa, and coffee leaves. Drinking large quantities of any of these drinks could easily cause an imbalance in your body’s water levels.
Generally, different types of teas and coffee contain caffeine, which when consumed in large amounts can easily cause a diuretic effect. However, it is important to understand that just like any other fluid, coffee and tea consumption will definitely increase your urge to urinate.
That doesn’t mean you are experiencing diuretics, it is a normal process that happens when you consume liquids. Besides, the caffeine content in coffee and tea is basically too minimal to have any dehydrating effect. Unless your consumption is very high.
But even then, you will realize that you are still taking a lot of water to caffeine ratio. Thus if you experience any diuretic effects, they are likely to be minimal at best. Bottom line, don’t be too afraid of consuming tea or coffee because it does more good than harm. It hydrates your body a lot more than it has the potential to dehydrate it!