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does Unsweet ice tea count as water?

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Old 08-06-2010, 05:49 PM   #1
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Question does Unsweet ice tea count as water?

I have read so many conflicting responses about wheither or not unsweet ice tea counts as water intake. Ive read yes and Ive read it dehydrates you. Does anyone know for sure and/or where I can look?
Thank you!!
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Old 08-06-2010, 06:40 PM   #2
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There's a common (and untrue) belief that caffeinated beverages are dehydrating. This is a myth that almost killed my mother. Her Weight Watcher's leader told the group that for every cup of coffee they drank, they needed to drink two cups of water to make up for the dehydrating effect, and they weren't to "count" anything but plain water.

So in addition to her 8 glassed per day, she was drinking 2 glasses of milk, 2 to 3 cups of coffee and an additional 4 to 6 cups of water, and the liquid in her fruits/vegetables, soups...

She ended up in the hospital with water intoxications (also called water poisoning - when drinking too much water diluting the blood and depleting electrolytes especially sodium, usually).

My mom was at increased risk because of her potassium-depleting blood pressure medication and a low-sodium diet. But the kidney specialist called in told us that water intoxication is on the rise among even healthy people on no medication, because of dieting water myths. He said that if coffee and tea were dehydrating, then people who drink nothing but coffee and tea (and there are a lot of them) would die of dehydration (and they don't).

He told us that anything with moisture "counts" towards your fluid requirements as the body has no problem using the liquid in foods and non-water beverages. He also pointed out that there really is no such thing as "plain" water - as drinking water contains minerals dissolved in it. Only distilled water contains nothing but water, and it's not recommended for drinking, because of the possibility of osmosis drawing minerals out of the blood (that is distilled water can leech minerals from the body).

Everything counts. Even watermelon, soup, milk and beer. In the middle ages no one drank water, because it was unsafe. Even children drank beer and cider (usually less fermented than adults - which is where the word "soft" in soft drinks come from. New beers were new or "soft" and "hardened" during the aging process).

Unless you're drinking quite a bit over a gallon of fluids per day, are on blood pressure medications or a low-sodium diet, you probably aren't going to have to worry about water intoxication, but regardless all fluids do count toward your fluid needs. Caffeinated drinks at worst are "almost" equivalent to plain water. That is you don't have to drink extra to compensate and the difference in hydration between them and plain water are pretty small (so at worst 8 oz of coffee is equivalent to 7 ounces of water. Probably not even this much, as the doctor said they were "virtually equivalent").

Unfortunately may people who believe the water myths, pass them on. Even the recommendation for 8 glasses can't be traced to an original source. The source it is believed to come from (I can't remember the source) didn't even recommend 6 to 8 glasses - it estimated the average fluid as the equivalent of 6 to 8 glasses INCLUDING that from food.

For dieting, water can diminish appetite, so the 6 to 8 glasses of non-caloric liquid in addition to food isn't a bad idea, but there's no science or truth behind the recommendation that the liquid be "pure water" or that caffeine (in beverages, I'm not talking about taking caffeine pills) is dehydrating.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:50 PM   #3
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According to Weight Watchers Good Health Guidelines, ANY liquid counts except alcohol counts as water and you need 6 cups per day. Did your mother read the materials? And how anyone counld injest that much liquid in a day is beyond me.
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:02 PM   #4
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Thank you Kaplods That is very very helpful as I also take blood pressure meds and am on a very low sodium diet. I drink 6-8 cups of coffee per day or more on top of at least 1 lrg unsweet tea from Mcdonalds (never the sweet. it has 59g of sugar and over 200 calories) and then try to drink water as well. I am one of the only coffee and tea drinkers you talked about, as I dont like soda, fruit juices or kool aid type drinks. When I drink a full 16oz bottle of water in only a short time it makes me sick to my stomach so I have been doing little at a time.. I will go back to my old way of relying on my body to "want" water now thanki you

QuilterinVa it is easier than you think..she said her mom in total drank16-19 8oz of liquids roughly. I drink about 8 cups of coffee and a day. If I have 2 lg unsweet teas ( each tea being 32oz) that is 16 8 oz servings right there not counting the water I have been drinking up to 40 oz per day since my diet started so now Im up to 21 8oz servings give or take and still not including and liquid from food!! Regardless if her mother read the guidlines or not is not the issue I think she said her mother took the advice of a leader there...
Thanks again KAPLODS!! Have a great weekend!!
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:44 AM   #5
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Weight Watchers has changed their official guidelines (possibly because of the risk of water intoxication), although at the time of my mother's illness, WW's "official position" was that milk, fruit juice and other beverages could only count for for half of your water requirements, and there was no upper limit. I don't remember if caffeinated beverages could count for that any of that half, although it was very common for leaders to say they didn't count. I have been a WW member during almost every decade beginning at 8 years old in 1972.


For as long as I can remember, WW leaders have often recommended behaviors that went against the "official" policies, especially when it comes to water/fluid consumption. Caffeinated beverages have been discouraged at least since the mid 1980's.

Also, many times members will offer the information on "a better way to do things," and leaders will either agree or fail to disagree.

Water/fluid consumption is probably the area where I remember this occuring most often. In many WW meetings over the years I have heard a wide range of recommendations that went against the official policies when it comes to water/beverages. Including not counting caffeinated beverages or drinking extra water to compensate for caffeinated beverages (everywhere from 1/2 cup of extra water to 2 cups - over the years the amount recommended seems to increase).

I remember already as early as the 90's (and maybe before), members and leaders were recommending 1/2 ounce of water for every pound. That means a person at my starting weight of nearly 400 lbs, would be expected to drink 200 ounces of water - that is more than a gallon and a half of water - WAY too much water for many of us.

While my mom was hospitalized (it was a couple years ago, and she spent a full week in the hospital. She only spent 3 days in the hospital after her cesarean section in 1981), the kidney specialist told us that 3 quarts of water per day was sufficient for virtually anyone (except some extreme athletes, and they probably need electrolytes added to their water). Larger people don't need much if any more water than smaller people (which makes sense, it's not as though larger people have larger kidneys/ bladder capacities).


I'm on a similar blood pressure medication and I eat even less salt than my mother. The kidney specialist said I was at just as much risk and should consider 3 quarts of fluid my upper limit. I have to admit that I do exceed that fairly often. There were times in my life in which I would average about a gallon or more per day (I believed a lot of those myths), but I don't let myself go over a gallon anymore, and if I'm going past 2 quarts, I try to make sure that I have eaten a fair amount of salt.

My blood sodium levels are always on the lowest side of normal (occasionally under). I've even had to take sodium supplementations in the past, because of low sodium levels. I have to have my sodium tested before every surgery, because going into surgery with low blood sodium levels is extremely dangerous, especially for the heart. It's not something doctors generally test for, because the odds of dangerously low-sodium levels is pretty rare (especially given the typical American diet).

Even so, until my mother was hospitialized, I had always been taught, and continued to teach in the community college psychology and early childhood development and health classes that water intoxication was virtually impossible under normal circumstances, seen only in marathon and extreme athletes, mentally ill patients with water-drinking compulsion, and people trying to fake out a drug test. I even "corrected" a fellow Weight Watcher's member who raised the concern over the possibility "too much water," explaining that it was virtually impossible and how/where I had learned it (in graduate school psychology courses).

I was shocked to learn that this was no longer true. I felt really terrible that I was passing along dangerously inaccurate information.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jensmith72 View Post
I also take blood pressure meds and am on a very low sodium diet. I drink 6-8 cups of coffee per day or more on top of at least 1 lrg unsweet tea from Mcdonalds (never the sweet. it has 59g of sugar and over 200 calories) and then try to drink water as well.
My kidney doctor said everything, even milk is a liquid. 8 cups of coffee/day on blood pressure meds???!?!?!??!?! is what I would be more concerned with. Unless they're small cups or your doctor doesn't care.

Your body will tell you what it needs, and those large teas from McD's are like drinking 4 cups of water, it just tastes better. If you have a Culver's near you, their unsweetened iced tea is out of this world!
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:59 PM   #7
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I've always been told only water is water. But if you are talking about fluid intake then yes I think it counts as part of fluid intake.

I personally don't believe in the 64+ oz of ONLY water daily. I count all the fluids I drink, except for soup, I don't count soup cause of the amount of sodium in it. So, just as long as I'm getting the amount of fluids I need I feel ok about it and I don't care if it comes from coffee, tea, diet soda or what ever. BUT! I am mindful about it, I don't sit around and drink diet sodas all day or tea or coffee, water is my primary source of fluid.
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Old 08-07-2010, 11:12 PM   #8
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Only water is water sounds like good advice, until you realize that there is no "only water" drinking water. It all has (and should have) other stuff dissolved in it (mostly minerals). "Plain" water is actually a poor choice for drinking, because (at least in theory) it can leech minerals from your body, such as calcium from your bones.

Distilled water, which is the only "only water" water doesn't taste very good to most people - it tastes stagnant or flat.

I think the dieting water myths are fascinating, in that they've gotten more and more extreme over the years. The ounces recommended keeps going up, and the list of what "counts' keeps getting smaller and smaller.

I have noticed the trend is starting (slowly) to reverse. Weight Watchers has now changed their policy so that all fluids count (previously non-water beverages could only count for half of your 6-8 glasses).
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Old 08-07-2010, 11:55 PM   #9
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My Uncle...was very extreme in his water drinking.
He was a big man..I mean a big man..just about 5'7" ...over 400 pounds.
One day he...he sobered up..gave up the drink for good and never touched a drop of it after that day.
Then..he gave up candy.....tea....everything but some food...and WATER.
He went from 400 pounds..to about 140...in MONTHS..about 10 months. he confessed to me one day he got to where he was drinking 8 gallons of water a DAY. "That can't be possible." I said. "Oh it is" He said. He got sick because of such rapid weight loss. He was getting too skinny...starving himself and drinking only water to keep away the hunger.
I think he was replacing the alcohol with water...it became his habit.

IMO- Water is good for you..any water..even the water in foods should be counted. But I do know that you can have too much water. I hear that over hydrating yourself puts a strain on your kidneys. But unless you're drinking to the extreme, you don't have much to worry about.
I think many of us get that uncomfortable feeling when we drink water. That bloated, sloshing around feeling when we have a lot of water at once. It's just fine to sip your water all day long. ^.^
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:14 AM   #10
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This is all super fascinating... I get the whole water intoxication thing. I think that fluid consumption should be looked at in consideration to ones environment and activity level. I'm an Arizonan and I know, as do most desert dwellers how vital hydration is, and that juices and teas do not compare to water in our heat (and nothing compares to AC! lol) .I get debilitating headaches if I neglect to drink at least 42 ounces of water a day. But, if I lived in say, Portland, OR. my outlook on carrying around a water bottle 24/7 may be different.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:33 AM   #11
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HI all!
Kaplods That is something I didnt know about distilled water ( I always thought that water was for humidifiers and vaporizers. My aunt uses it in her machine for sleep apnea.. I have never tasted it and now I never will!

SuchAPrettyFace he does know howw much I drink and they are small tea cup sizes but Ive been on blood pressure meds for about 5 years now and the my blood pressure is normal now and he said it is ok. I have been drinking coffee and tea only for ever (well my early 20s..im 38) I am addicted to caffeine and it has no effect on me what so ever, except if I dont drink it, then I get a bad headache. But he is aware Ive never heard of Culver's, i am in VA.

Sakai Oh my gosh that sounds frightening.. Is he ok now? Did he gain back any of the weight? Thats what I do I sip or my body will actual crave water and I can down a whole bottle with no problem but liquids have never made me feel full.

Hpnodat I am mindful as well. Some people enjoy sodas and other carbonated drinks...I dont.. I drink my coffee with minimal powder creamer and 1 equal and my tea with no sugar or sweetener at all..I also drink water but I dont force myself to..(well I have been for about a month) But no more will I do that.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:47 AM   #12
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I agree with you Sarah Im here in Northern Va (20 min from D.C) we have very high humidity with our summer months and water bottles outside are very necessary from June to Beginning September! I drink more now than I would in say November or January but I still drink water all year just like I will go to get a cup of coffee in August when the heat index is 110.. I like water, it just makes me feel sick if I make myself drink more than I want (tea does the same thing too by the way) Im glad I asked this question because the responses are great information!
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:21 AM   #13
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HI all!
Kaplods That is something I didnt know about distilled water ( I always thought that water was for humidifiers and vaporizers. My aunt uses it in her machine for sleep apnea.. I have never tasted it and now I never will!

Distilled water is often used in appliances like humidifiers, vaporizers, steam irons, and even old coffee and tea pots because it wouldn't leave minerap deposits behind.

I do want to clarify that drinking distilled water isn't harmful in small quantities or in the short-term. I believe some desalinization techniques/kits produce distilled water for drinking (for example if you were shipwrecked or otherwise stranded without potable water). Distilled water would be preferable to dehydration.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:24 AM   #14
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LOL well as long as I dont get ship wrecked or otherwise stranded or they run out of " bottled drinking water" (as I do not like spring water or the taste of my and many others tap water)... I probably still wont, simply because you are not the only person who has said it tastes stagnant or flat. That was the reason I said that.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:00 PM   #15
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According to Weight Watchers Good Health Guidelines, ANY liquid counts except alcohol counts as water and you need 6 cups per day. Did your mother read the materials? And how anyone counld injest that much liquid in a day is beyond me.
This is a fairly recent change at WW. Before that only water counted as water, however, I've never heard of any other liquids counting against your water consumption. But my first time joining was in the late 90s. My leader sometimes talks about the program back in the 70s and 80s. It sounds hellish!
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