Are herbal teas as good for hydration as plain water?
Great question. I have been asked this lots and it comes up on our challenges. To be blunt - plain water is always best. Preferably filtered if we can but there is nothing wrong with general tap water either (depending on the sewerage system where you live).
But tea is fine. Herbal teas will be better than black tea - but please don’t split hairs over it. Herbal teas are things like green tea, peppermint tea, fruit teas (strawberry tea, cranberry tea, etc), chamomile tea - none of those add calories to your day and for some people it breaks up the monotony of drinking plain water. In some of those teas, there may even be trace nutrients from the fruits, which is good. It won’t be much and certainly not enough to count, but they can have properties that have an effect on our bodies. For example, some people find chamomile tea relaxing, others find green tea a real 'pick me up’.
So, long story short, I don’t see any issue drinking herbal tea instead of water for some of your daily intake, but it is always best to drink plain water for at least 50% of your intake, if not more.
Black tea, and coffee, while also calorie free, can have a dehydrating effect on the body and while they are not necessarily a poor choice, please don’t count them as water intake! They can actually have a more negative impact on your hydration rather than adding to it. Not for everyone, but for some people.
While we are on the topic of water, unflavoured sparkling, mineral or even soda water are generally the same as plain water - just note that if it’s bubbly it has had chemicals (mainly oxygen but you never know what else) to make it that way so up to you if you want that in your system. Not a huge deal at all, in my opinion, if it means you are getting more water in your body.
I want to know by eliminating milk, are we getting enough calcium?
This is a great question and one that I feel many women need answered. You see, calcium is a very important mineral for the human body. It makes up our bones, teeth, nails and even hair to some extent. It is always an important mineral to have in the body; as we are growing we need it to develop properly and as we are older, we need it to maintain bone health, strength and size and prevent bone breakage and related diseases like osteoporosis.
Now, the question is about milk and if we cut it out are we getting enough calcium. The answer is yeah probably because it will be in other foods, like yoghurt, cheese, etc., But I wonder if the underlying question here is “if we give up dairy, are we getting enough calcium?”. So this might be what I address, if that’s ok?
The answer could be no, if you are not eating other foods with calcium or you are not taking a calcium supplement. You see, women are recommended to get at least 1200mg of calcium into their bodies everyday, and can go anywhere up to around 2500mg. This level is just to maintain your current calcium levels in your bones. Once you hit the age of 35, your body’s ability to increase calcium levels significantly decreases, and from here it’s more about maintaining those levels, and your bone health.
Now, this level of calcium is relatively simple if you have dairy products as a regular part of your daily diet. But if you don’t, don’t despair. There are other foods that have calcium that you can eat/drink to keep your levels up. These are:
Calcium Fortified Orange Juice (this is actually one of the highest calcium products!)
Canned Sardines in oil
Calcium Fortified breakfast cereals
Spinach/Kale - pretty much all the green cruciferous vegetables
So you can see that there are many foods that have calcium that are dairy free. In fact, looking at this list we can see that many of these foods are in our 8 week challenges and our Innerfit programs, which is good! So your calcium levels should be up if you’re on those - and if you eat dairy then you are winning on those programs!
But if none of those foods are really in your diet and you do not see yourself adding them in, you can always take a calcium supplement in tablet form. There are plenty on the market, just make sure you are taking 1000mg in tablet form (no more) each day.
Now - here is a really important thing that you MUST know if you want to maintain your calcium levels. Your body CAN NOT absorb calcium if you do not have enough Vitamin D! Let me say that again!
Your Body Will Not Absorb Calcium If You Are Vitamin D Deficient.
You see, the two act together. Calcium and vitamin D work together to protect your bones—calcium helps build and maintain bones, while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium. So even if you’re taking in enough calcium, it could be going to waste if you’re deficient in vitamin D.
Did you know this? Tell me in the comments if you knew this!
Now Vitamin D has so many other benefits for your body, and the best way to get it is regular sunshine. But if you are looking for foods with Vitamin D to help keep your levels up, try:
Vitamin D Fortified Foods
If you are anything like me and don't eat fish, and have no idea what fortified foods there are, you can grab a Vitamin D supplement to take each day. That’s always a safe bet!
My personal recommendation for getting Vitamin D is:
Time outside every day
Balanced diet of essential fatty acid foods
Regular Vitamin D supplement
While we are on the topic of Vitamin D, let’s have a quick look at what it does for the body.
Vitamin D boosts your mood, boosts your immune system, helps to fight and stave off infections, improve brain function and focus, assist with staving off body fat accumulation (Hello!? Who doesn’t want that!!), and can lower the risk of high blood pressure, arthritis and even type 2 diabetes.
So what’s my recommendation on Vitamin D? Get some. Include plenty of foods with it in it and/or take a supplement.
Now this is a valid segway because I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while about supplements and which ones I recommend taking. So here you have 2 that I think are an absolute must. I take a Vitamin D tablet regularly because my body barely has any - something to do with the birth of my first child. They literally suck the life out of in utero, don’t they! And I now take a calcium tablet because arthritis is a genetic trait in my family.
But there are two other vitamins that are essential for women's health.
The first one is iron. When you are iron deficient, you feel like crap. You have no energy, you get sore in different parts of your body and you just don’t feel like yourself.
Iron has many benefits, including:
Improved energy levels. Iron is responsible for carrying oxygen to your muscles and brain. ...
Enhanced athletic performance. ...
Boosts the immune system. ...
Improves cognitive function. ...
Promotes peaceful sleep.
Foods with iron include:
Red meat, pork and poultry.
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.
And if you notice this list of foods, many of them are the same as the lists for vitamin D and calcium, so if you’re smart (which I know you are because you are here learning more about your health), you could be eating these foods and getting real kick of essential vitamins and minerals.
Now the last one I want to talk to you about is Vitamin B. It is not talked about as much as the others but is a critical component for female health. Vitamin B (all of them, by the way, not just B6 or whatever) is responsible for helping the body convert food into energy (metabolism), creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues.
Check out this list of things you might notice if your vitamin B levels are too low:
Fatigue and/or weakness
Loss of senses (taste, smell, etc.)
Shortness of breath
Makes Vitamin B sound important, huh?! It is so critical for your overall health that you are getting enough Vitamin B in your diet.
Here are some foods you will find it in:
meat (especially liver),
fortified foods, such as breakfast cereal and nutritional yeast.
And again, you can see that many of these foods are also on the list for iron, vitamin D and calcium, so if you’re not eating any of these often you may want to start thinking about it!
However, if you do eat lots of these foods on a regular basis then the chances of your levels being where they need to be are good, and you probably don’t have anything to worry about!
So, how can you tell if you have a deficiency in these vitamins and minerals?
The best way to tell is by having a blood test. But if you generally feel well then chances are you are fine.
If you are getting loads of these foods each day, then you are likely to be fine.
If you are not getting many of the identified symptoms on a regular basis, or to an extent it’s really bothering you, you are probably fine.
But if you do have those symptoms and you know you could eat more foods for a particular vitamin or mineral, start there. It's always a better option than seeing the doctor.
But the most accurate way to tell if you have a deficiency is to get a blood test.
Ok - I took that one question and went on a journey, didn’t I!!! But I feel like there was a lot of information here that needed to be covered for the overall general health of women, so I am hoping that you picked up something new and important for your own health tonight. I would love to know in the comments what you learned, what you related to or maybe even what you already knew and are implementing in your life.