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.
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
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.
We have some advice below for choosing milk:
- Low-fat or semi-skimmed milk are 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
- Flavoured milks can be a good alternative but should be consumed at meals because they contain added sugar. When buying them compare the labels and choose those with the lowest amount of added sugar
Fruit juices, squashes and fruit drinks
Unsweetened fruit juices count towards one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day no matter how much you drink. 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 kept to meal times.
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.
Check out our smoothie page for information on making and drinking smoothies.
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
For advice on caffine consumption during pregnancy, see the pregnancy section of our website.
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’ or ‘diet’ 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 can 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. Unless you are doing endurance sport, water is the best way to rehydrate.
Stimulant or so-called “energy” drinks usually contain a lot of sugar and caffeine. And while some of their ingredients pose no health concerns, these drinks are not suitable as a thirst quencher after sports activities. Caution should also be taken when consuming these drinks with alcohol or medication and they should not be consumed by children or pregnant women.
To read the science behind this advice download our report The Health Effects of Stimulant Drinks (PDF, 0.5MB).