The Health Benefits of Tea vs. Water

Mugs of tea and water

The human body is roughly 60% water. Water keeps us alive and helps our overall health. It performs a number of essential functions, including regulating body temperature, aiding in digestion, removing waste from the body, and transporting oxygen.

Every day you lose water through sweat, breathing, urine, and bowel movements, which is why it’s important to drink water throughout the day. But drinking water isn’t the only way to replenish yourself. Instead, water can come from a variety of foods and drinks, such as watermelon, spinach, and coffee. The question is, how much water do you need?

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You may have heard the body needs roughly eight cups of water a day. This is somewhat true. However, scientists and nutritionists base their recommendations on total fluid intake rather than drinking water alone.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who have difficulty drinking enough water throughout the day, consider adding tea to your diet. Tea not only provides a flavorful thirst quencher, a problem commonly cited by self-proclaimed non-water drinkers, but also several health benefits.

What’s Exactly is Tea?

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All tea is derived from the plant Camellia sinensis. The three major tea types – black, green, and oolong – are categorized based on how long the plant is fermented (or oxidized) and dried. Tea is oxidized by crushing or tumbling the tea leaves. When damaged in this manner, cells within the tea leaves are exposed to surrounding oxygen. This chemical reaction produces the familiar tastes and colors of the teas you drink.

Health Benefits of Tea

A recent study conducted by researchers at King’s College in London claims tea is better for your health compared to water. Unlike water, tea contains a number of naturally occurring compounds, such as polyphenols, that have many health-promoting properties.

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Chemical processes throughout your body create byproducts known as free radicals. Although essential, too many free radicals can cause oxidative stress, a chemical process that is known for playing a developing role in several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, macular degeneration, and ulcers. Polyphenols found in tea act as antioxidants by neutralizing free radicals throughout the body.

There are four classes of polyphenols: phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, and lignans. One flavonoid found in tea – catechin – protects against heart disease and diabetes by reducing plaque buildup in your arteries and affecting glucose metabolism and insulin signaling.

The concentration of polyphenols in tea is determined by the fermentation process. While each of the major tea types contains enough polyphenols to benefit your health, several studies report that longer fermentation decreases antioxidant concentration. Following this general rule, unoxidized green tea contains the most antioxidants, while fully oxidized black tea contains the fewest. However, the difference between concentrations is minimal, and you’ll reap the benefits of tea no matter which type you choose.

The Disadvantages of Tea

Even with its reported benefits, drinking too much tea can harm your health.

1. Caffeine Overdose

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According to the mayo clinic, it’s safe for healthy adults to drink up to 400mg of caffeine a day. That’s roughly four cups of coffee, 10 cans of soda, or nine cups of tea. However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine compared to others. While you may not clinically overdose, too much caffeine can cause stomach aches, muscle tremors, dizziness, and jitters. If you enjoy the taste of tea but you are worried about your caffeine intake, consider switching to decaf tea.

2. Added Sugars

Many flavored or infused teas contain added sugar. Because sugar plays a major role in the development of diabetes and heart disease, try to buy tea that contains zero sugar, or consider adding a natural sweetener to your tea, such as honey.

3. Iron May Prevent Iron Absorption

Individuals with anemia should be especially cautious when drinking tea. Although polyphenols provide several health benefits, some evidence suggests the compound can reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron. However, these effects are only seen in cases where individuals consumed large amounts of tea.

Final Thoughts from USHEALTH Group

Water and tea are both healthy options, but if you struggle to reach the recommended fluid intake by drinking water alone, try adding healthy teas to your diet. Tea may be more beneficial to your health, and unless you’re anemic or have a low caffeine tolerance, there isn’t much harm. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your fluid intake or caffeine consumption.