Water and other drinks

Your body needs water or other fluids to work properly and stay hydrated. So it's really important that you drink enough fluids every day.

How much fluid your body needs

For a climate such as ours in Northern Ireland, you should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop yourself from getting dehydrated.

In hotter climates, your body will need more than this.

Signs of dehydration

When your body doesn't have enough water, you are said to be dehydrated.

One of the first signs of dehydration is feeling thirsty.

If you think you may not be getting enough fluids, check if you have any of these other common signs of dehydration:

  • dark-coloured urine and not passing much urine when you go to the toilet
  • headaches
  • confusion and irritability
  • lack of concentration

Types of drinks

Try to choose healthier drinks as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Many soft drinks are high in sugar. Food and drinks that are high in sugar are often high in calories, and eating too many calories can make you more likely to gain weight.

Some energy drinks are high in both sugar and caffeine.

Checking the nutrition information on soft drinks, such as fruit juices and fizzy drinks, can help you make healthier choices.

Water

Water is the healthiest choice for quenching your thirst at any time. It has no calories and contains no sugars that can damage teeth.

If you don't like the taste of plain water, try sparkling water or add a slice of lemon or lime. You could also add some squash or fruit juice for flavour.

Milk

Milk is a good source of calcium. It also contains vitamins and other minerals

For a healthy choice, choose semi-skimmed, one per cent fat or skimmed milk. Limit your intake of flavoured milks, milkshakes, condensed milk and milk-based energy or malt drinks because these contain added sugar, which is bad for teeth.

Milk is especially important for young children. They should drink whole (full fat) milk until they are at least two years old, because they may not get as many calories as they need from lower-fat milks.

Fruit juices and smoothies

Fruit juice and fruit smoothies contain a variety of vitamins that are good for your health.

A glass (around 150ml) of fruit juice counts as one of your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. But juice can only ever count as one portion a day, no matter how much you drink. This is because it does not contain the fibre found in whole fruits and vegetables.

Fruit juice also contains sugar that can damage teeth. It’s best to drink it with a meal because this can help protect teeth.

Tea and coffee

Tea and coffee contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. This means caffeine can temporarily make you feel more alert or less drowsy.

It’s fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet. But it's important that tea, coffee or other drinks containing caffeine are not your only source of fluid.

Pregnant women should limit their intake of tea or coffee.

Fizzy drinks and squashes

Fizzy drinks, and some squashes and juice drinks contain lots of sugar and very few nutrients, so keep them to a minimum. Look for low sugar and sugar free varieties.

Some energy drinks are high in both sugar and caffeine.

Checking the nutrition information on soft drinks, such as fruit juices and fizzy drinks, can help you make healthier choices.

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