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Is tea as hydrating and healthy as you think?

Dehydration is a common problem, particularly for individuals working in air-conditioned offices or have a physically demanding job. Recommendations state daily fluid intakes should be between 1.5 – 2 litres of fluid a day.

Water is sufficient to meet our daily fluid requirements and keep us hydrated however, many of us choose to consume other beverages such as tea, coffee and squash. Some of these beverages can provide additional nutrients such as flavonoid polyphenols, which are found in tea.

Tea is the most widely consumed drink in the world, after water. There is a widespread belief that caffeinated beverages cause dehydration and therefore don’t contribute to your daily fluid requirements. However, there is an ever-growing body of research to the contrary. The original research that showed a diuretic effect of caffeine, as a result of stimulated urine output, was conducted on animal trials and human trials using doses up to 600 mg per day – far higher than typically consumed.

Over 40 intervention studies have now shown that there is no detrimental effect on hydration with caffeine intakes up to 6 mg per kg body weight. In fact, there are even health benefits associated with drinking caffeinated beverages up to the equivalent of 9 cups of tea a day. So, the good news is, if you are one of the people that fall into the average consumption of 3 cups of tea a day, it would appear that it is contributing to your hydration.

We now know tea will keep us hydrated, but is it healthy? Research has shown tea consumers have a 16% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 34% lower risk of cancer, compared to non-drinkers. The flavonoids contained in tea are thought to be responsible for many of its health benefits.

Key facts