Persistent low-level dehydration increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and temporary dips can trigger headaches fatigue and impaired physical and mental performance. But health claims around hydration are awash with myth and misinformation, a new study set to be published in Primary Healthcare reveals.
The review of published trials and scientific evidence authored by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) confirms that tea is terrific for hydration, aids weight control and delivers a host of other health benefits.
Commenting on Primary Healthcare, Dr Tim Bond of the Tea Advisory Panel notes: “We are routinely advised to drink eight glasses of water a day, but there is actually no scientific evidence to support this modern-day mantra - it probably began with a passing comment by American nutritionist Dr Frederick Stare in a book published in 1974.
“In fact, there is such wide variation between evidence-based estimates on our fluid needs that one study reported recommended daily intakes ranging from 0.419 litres (0.73 of a pint) to 4.316 litres (7.59 pints). ”
The new TAP review of evidence surrounding tea and hydration also debunks claims that drinks with caffeine don’t count - and outlines seven reasons why tea is a wonderful way to rehydrate.
It points to studies showing the great British cuppa protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. Tea also aids weight loss, strengthens bones and supports cognitive function and dental health.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, the review author, which has just been published in Primary Healthcare, says: “There is a lot of nutri-nonsense and misinformation around the subject of hydration and caffeinated drinks such as tea. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or nutritional therapist and dispense inaccurate and ill-informed advice.
“The truth is, our national love of tea makes it an important player when it comes to hydration, but it is also a hugely important source of health-enhancing polyphenols. All the evidence shows that tea ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to healthy hydration.”
There are a number of plant chemicals in tea which make it tops for health and hydration.
All forms of tea contain polyphenols, a family of plant compounds which appear to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties and almost half the UK intake of health-enhancing flavonoids come from tea.
Dr Tim Bond adds: “There is a lot of interest in flavonoids because there is now good evidence that they are associated with increased antioxidant activity, reduced lipid peroxide and improved resistance to oxidation of unhealthy LDL cholesterol.”
“Tea also contains caffeine at levels which appear to enhance cognition without harming hydration. Claims that caffeine causes dehydration are based largely on animal studies or human trials using high doses of caffeine pills rather than caffeinated drinks.
“When it comes to tea there are actually only two trials which specifically examine the impact of tea on hydration - and neither found any problem at all.”
TAP is a novel health group, bringing together experts in the areas of public health, general practice, nutrition and diet. Its objective is to provide informed ‘advice’ about the essential health, hydration and dietary role that black tea can provide in our daily diets. It also as a group will be commissioning a series of study reviews and market research initiatives investigating further the ‘natural’ well-being benefits associated with black tea.
TAP is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK Tea Council, the trade association for the UK tea industry.
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