Drinks

The amount of fluid we need depends on how active we are and how warm it is. To stay healthy we should drink about 8 glasses or 1.2 litres per day. Water and milk are the best choices for drinking regularly throughout the day. Here are some tips and advice on choosing your drinks.

Water

This is the best thirst quencher during and between meals. It is sugar and calorie free so it is kind to teeth and waistlines! Here are some tips to help you drink more water:

  • Get into the habit of always serving water, whether it’s with meals or as a daily thirst quencher
  • Still water is kinder to teeth than fizzy/sparkling varieties
  • Carry a bottle of water to school, work or play

Milkyoung girls drinking milk

Milk is a great choice for people of all ages. It is tooth friendly and is packed with vitamins and minerals like calcium, which help to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

Low-fat or semi-skimmed milk is the best option for adults and teenagers as it is kinder on the waistline than full-fat varieties, however it is only suitable for children aged two and upwards who are eating well. Younger children need the extra calories provided by full fat or whole milk

Fruit juices, squashes and fruit drinks

young boy drinking orange juiceUnsweetened fruit juices count towards one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day no matter how much you drink. It is recommended that the amount of fruit juice you consume in a day is no more than 150ml, which is the equivalent of a small glass. Here are some juicy tips:

  • Choose 100% pure fruit juices that are unsweetened i.e. contain no added sugar
  • 100% pure fruit juices made ‘from concentrate’ count equally towards your five a day.
  • All types of fruit juice are acidic and can be damaging to teeth, so they are better consumed with main meals only.
  • If you are giving fruit juices to children, it is best to dilute it one part juice to ten parts water
  • Be wary of ‘juice drinks’, they can contain very little juice and quite a lot of sugar
  • Squashes are very high in sugar and usually contain no fruit juice at all. Sugar free squashes are a healthier alternative.
  • Always check the label so that you know what you are buying.   

Smoothies

Smoothies are another way of getting more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Just remember that no matter how many smoothies you consume in a day, they only contribute to 1 of your 5 a day. Smoothies fall into the same category as fruit juices so in total you should have no more than 150ml of fruit juice or smoothies in a day. When it comes to which smoothie to choose, the best choice would be those made with fresh, frozen or tinned (in its own juice) fruit and those which contain no added sugar, honey or syrup. Smoothies tend to be high in naturally-occurring sugars which can damage teeth so drinking smoothies through a straw can reduce the amount of contact your teeth make with these sugars.

Tea and coffee

Most people love a cup of tea or coffee and the good news is that it can count towards your daily fluid intake. However strong tea and coffee contain caffeine which can make you produce more urine. To stay hydrated, it is best that tea and coffee are not your only source of fluid during the day.

For some advice on choosing hot drinks, see our tips below:

  • Ask for drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos to be made with low fat milk instead of full fat
  • Go for regular options rather than larger ones and save on calories
  • Drinks like hot chocolate can have a lot of sugar. Try not to drink them too often, and opt for using low fat milk when you do

It is recommended that pregnant women consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day.

Fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks contain a lot of sugar and can be very harmful to teeth so try not to drink them too often and with meals if you do. Alternatives such as ‘sugar free’, ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ varieties can contain less sugar but are still quite acidic. Using a straw will reduce the amount of sugar that comes into contact with teeth.

Sports drinks

you man drinking bottled water outsideSports drinks can be helpful to those who are doing sport for more than 60 minutes in duration. However, like other fizzy drinks and squashes they contain sugar and will contribute to tooth decay. Sports drinks are not something that should be consumed every day outside of sporting activities. If you do decide to have one of these drinks alongside your exercise, be sure to choose one that is free from caffeine, as consumption of caffeine can result in frequent urination which may lead to dehydration. Unless you are doing endurance sport, water is the best way to rehydrate. 

Energy drinks

Stimulant or so called “energy” drinks can provide a lot of sugar and calories to a person’s diet while having little or no nutritional benefit. This can lead to weight gain and obesity in children, teenagers and adults. As well as this, these drinks usually contain high amounts of caffeine so caution must be taken when planning to consume them with alcohol or medication and they should not be consumed by children or pregnant women. Energy drinks are not suitable for rehydration after sport.

To read the science behind this advice download our report Energy drinks in Ireland – a review​ (PDF, 0.5, 1MB).