Academic argues coffee should be included in daily fluid intake recommendations

An Australian academic has challenged the recommendation that people should drink large volumes of water a day, saying water from food, tea, coffee and juices should be taken into consideration. Tsindos argues that while water is important for health, the recommendation of eight glasses of water a day has been exaggerated, and that all fluids are important in meeting fluid requirements: even coffee. “We should be educating the general public that beverages like tea and coffee, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration,” Tsindos writes. “And will contribute to a person’s fluid needs, something worth considering when discussing fluid requirements.”  In an editorial published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Spero Tsindos argues that health authorities have misinterpreted the historical evolution of fluid requirements, and exaggerated the health benefits of water. Following on from 19th Century ‘hydropathists’ – alternative practitioners who considered that water could cure any ailments – Tsindos points to the roots of scientific endorsement of minimal water requirements as a footnote in a 1945 US dietary guideline. It said the average male diet of 2500 kilocalories would require 1 millilitre of water per kilocalorie. This led to the eventual guideline that each person should drink 2.5 litres of water a day, with no reference or authority cited in following calculations. Taken to extremes, this recommendation went on to say that as soon as one feels thirsty, one is dehydrated, and that drinking tea or coffee will only prevent the absorption of water in the beverage and lead to additional loss of water. “Institutions that establish dietary needs including intakes of water do not acknowledge this,” writes Tsindos. “Research has suggested the diuretic effect of some beverages, such as tea or coffee, is somewhat overrated.”

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