Ask the Dietitian: Hydration

Jessica Jones-Hughes
June 6, 2011
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Recently at Equal Exchange, we received the question, "Is it true that coffee dehydrates you?" Water is one of the most essential nutrients for your body. So, pour yourself a glass of your favorite chilled Equal Exchange drink and read on!

First, let's talk water basics.

Why is hydration important to my health?
Drinking water or water equivalents has many health benefits. Water equivalents is a term I use to refer to any liquid substances that are not 100% water, but provide water/hydration to the body. These include: 100% fruit juices, decaffeinated coffees/teas, caffeinated coffees/teas (up to three cups), coconut water, electrolyte drinks, fruits and non-starchy vegetables (ex: leafy greens, peppers, etc). Staying hydrated helps to:

  • decrease appetite and control food cravings
  • maintain the balance of body fluids (up to 75% of your body is made of water!)
  • rid the body of waste products
  • keep your energy levels high
  • avoid constipation
  • keep your skin healthy

How much do I need?
Most people need about 8 glasses of water or water equivalents a day (one glass = 8 ounces or 1 cup). This amount varies, though, depending on your weight, gender, age, activity level, diet, health, pregnancy, and the climate you live in. You can calculate your specific needs here.

Do all liquids count?
Not all drinks are created equal. Caffeinated drinks (such as coffee, caffeinated tea and regular and diet soda) and alcohol (such as beer, wine, and spirits) actually cause water to be lost from your body if you drink more than three cups per day. If you are like a lot of people at Equal Exchange who drink more than three caffeinated beverages per day, do not despair! Although moderation is best, remember that the fourth cup of coffee you drink does not count toward your water or water equivalent recommended cups for the day. If you are having less than three cups per day, the antioxidant and other benefits of coffee and tea outweigh the slight diuretic affects of caffeine.

Tips to Help You Stay More Hydrated

  1. Make an iced or hot tea with any of the non-caffeinated Equal Exchange teas: yummy peppermint tea, rooibos, vanilla rooibos, or chamomile.
  2. Drink a glass of water right when you get up in the morning.
  3. Keep a glass at your desk and refill it throughout the day.
  4. Keep a water bottle with you in your car, at your desk, and in your bag.
  5. Eat more fruits and vegetables. (They have a high water content that contributes to your hydration needs.)
  6. Feeling hungry? Drink a glass of water or iced tea and see if you are still hungry. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger.

Check out this video for an Iced Rooibos Tea with Mint recipe!