Drinking water is the healthiest way to hydrate.
Water is a macro-nutrient and is the only fluid we need to hydrate when following a healthy
lifestyle. Water contains zero sugar, calories, preservatives or additives; aids digestion and
metabolism; replenishes natural fluids depleted by other diuretic drinks; and is a key part of
the body’s cooling system.
Despite offering so many natural health advantages, the average Briton drinks just 200ml of
water a day – less than one glass of the 6-8 glasses of fluid the Food Standards Agency
(FSA) says we should be drinking daily.
As part of a healthy balanced lifestyle you may consume other drinks including milk, coffee,
tea, fruit juice, smoothies and fizzy drinks.
Drinking tea or coffee also delivers water, and contains caffeine, which can affect hydration
when consumed in above average quantities. Pregnant women are advised to consume no
more than 200mg or caffeine a day. This is equivalent to about two mugs of instant coffee or
about two and a half mugs of tea. Other hot drinks such as herbal teas, hot chocolates and
malted drinks can provide water, however if these drinks are sweetened with sugar it
increases the calorie content. The sugar also increases their potential to damage teeth if
good dental hygiene is not practiced.
Milk contains lots of essential nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and calcium, as well as
being a source of water. However, it can also contain saturated fat and so it’s a good idea for
adults and older children to choose semi-skimmed (less than 2% fat), 1% or skimmed milks.
For children between the ages of one and two years, the recommended milk is whole milk.
From two years onwards semi-skimmed milk can be introduced gradually. Skimmed and 1%
milks are not suitable for children until they are at least five years old because they have less
vitamin A and are lower in calories.
Fruit juices and smoothies may contain pureed fruit, which adds fibre and can also count
towards your 5-A-DAY. One 150ml glass of fruit juice counts as one portion, and smoothies
that contain at nleast 150ml of fruit juice and 80g crushed/pulped fruit count as two portions.
Because fruit juices and smoothies contain sugar (and therefore calories) and can be acidic,
they can potentially harm teeth.
Sugary Soft drinks contain sugar, which adds to your calorie intake and can potentially
damage teeth if the drinks are consumed frequently. It’s a good idea to limit consumption of
standard sugar containing soft drinks.