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Lowering Coffee Consumption: Does Coffee Dehydrate You?

Reviewed by
Date published
25/05/2022
Date last updated
27/04/2022
Length of read
5 Minutes

While we’re often reminded and encouraged to drink 8 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated, it can sometimes be unclear as to whether or not we should include hot drinks such as tea or coffee within that daily count.

There’s been a lot of debate in the past as to whether or not coffee dehydrates you – leading to the question, should you be lowering your coffee consumption? Here’s all you need to know about your coffee intake, as well as some handy tips and tricks to prevent dehydration every day.

Will Drinking Coffee Dehydrate You?

Despite being a fairly common misconception, a cup of coffee doesn’t actually dehydrate you. Although the caffeine itself isn’t hydrating, the fluids you’ll consume with your cup of coffee will be enough to count towards your 8-a-day water intake.

It has been shown, however, that caffeine can have a diuretic effect – though this is very mild. Diuretics help the body get rid of both sodium (salt) and water and do so by causing the kidneys to flush out extra water from the body through the urine. Other natural diuretics include:

  • Black cumin
  • Alcohol
  • Dandelion
  • Parsley
  • Ginger.

Though coffee itself won’t dehydrate you, it’s important that it’s not your only source of fluids throughout the day. Although your hot drink will include water, you need to be drinking enough to avoid dehydration, not just drinking when you need a caffeine pick-me-up.

Ways To Keep Hydrated

Dehydration is more common than you may think, with many ordinary activities such as urinating or sweating contributing to a lot of water loss from the body. When we sweat or urinate, we also lose electrolytes, too, which contain minerals that help our muscles and nerves function and work properly. It’s really important that these electrolytes are replaced in the body, so we’re not without them. Some people find it more difficult than others to keep hydrated, so here are a few ways to ensure you’re drinking enough.

1. Keep a bottle of water with you when out and about

Keeping a refillable bottle of water with you at all times will remind you to take regular sips and will also be more convenient than getting up and constantly going to the staffroom for a drink when at work. Whether you’re completing jobs around the home or are out running errands, keeping a bottle by your side will remind you to stay hydrated.

2. Drink a glass of water if you start to feel hungry

It’s very easy (and common) for our brains to confuse hunger with thirst, and often when we think we want a snack, it’s actually a drink that our bodies need. Try drinking a glass of water when you start to feel hungry to check if it's not the hydration that you require.

3. Drink a glass of water before and after each meal

If you’re someone who often forgets to drink enough water, try to get into the habit of having a glass before and after each meal. This will mean that even if you forget at other stages of the day, at least you’ll still be getting a couple of glasses in at each mealtime, which can encourage your water intake.

4. Try adding fruits or botanicals to your water

If you’re not a big fan of water or find it too boring to drink 8 glasses of it throughout the day, try adding fruit or other flavours. Lemon and lime slices, strawberries, mint or berries can all help make the taste of water more exciting, not to mention more delicious! You could also try adding sugar-free fruit juices and cordials to your water to make them more flavourful, with plenty of choice and variety available in supermarkets.

5. Use reminder apps to help you keep track

There are lots of different apps available to help you keep track of the amount of water you’re drinking each day, helping you avoid dehydration. If you often forget to drink enough, there are apps that will also send you a reminder in the form of a notification or alarm, to remind you to stay hydrated.

Signs Of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when our bodies lose more fluids than they gain, which is why it’s so important that we’re drinking enough to keep fluid levels up and healthy. The condition can be extremely dangerous, especially to those who are vulnerable such as babies, children and the elderly. Here are some of the signs of dehydration to look out for:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Having dark yellow urine that has a strong smell
  • Having a dry mouth, dry lips and dry eyes
  • Urinating less often than normal (fewer than 4 times a day).

As we’ve seen, you don’t need to completely eschew coffee from your diet, but consider how your consumption impacts your health and stay alert to signs of dehydration.