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Does tea count towards daily water intake? How to stay hydrated in winter

The days are getting colder and greyer, and we're starting to load up on cups of tea to help keep us warm and energised throughout the day.

But, while we tend to up our hot drink intake in winter, most of us let the number of glasses of water we're drinking slip. So, do hot drinks count towards our recommended daily water intake?

We should be drinking six to eight cups or glasses of fluid every day.

While it may seem obvious that drinking enough water is important, you might not be aware just how many bodily functions it helps with. This includes preventing sores or ulcers and maintaining good skin, removing waste products and toxins through the kidneys, preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs), aiding brain function and concentration and blood pressure and heart health, maintaining muscle and joint movement, allowing medications to work properly and preventing falls from dizziness.

Just a 2% reduction in hydration status can impact on both physical and mental performance. By the time we are feeling thirsty we are already dehydrated so it's important to consume fluids regularly throughout the day

So does tea count?

The good news is that your even your classic breakfast tea counts towards your daily six/eight glasses of fluid a day, even if you add milk to your brew. In fact tea may even have some added benefits to drinking just plain water all the time.

While water is hydrating, research shows tea offers the same hydrating properties as water, while offering other health benefits such as reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Of course, the caffeine in tea is a stimulant, which can make you feel more alert or drowsy for periods of time, affecting some more than others, and also depending on how much you consume. Pregnant women should limit the amount of caffeinated drinks they have, while they are unsuitable for toddlers and young children.

While it's okay to drink tea as part of a balanced diet, it's important to remember that they can make the body produce urine more quickly for some, which might not be wise if you have urinary incontinence. If you're drinking hot drinks to stay hydrated, you should also stay sugar and syrup free, to avoid damaging your teeth and adding unneeded calories to your diet.

Of course if you change your brew choice to a caffeine free herbal infusion such as peppermint or rooibos, then you can avoid some of these health risks while reaping their nutritious benefits. Just like a healthy diet, a good tea hydration diet involves a range of different teas and herbal infusions.

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