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Drinks


Water and milk are the best drinks for all ages. 

They keep us hydrated and are kind to our teeth. Not drinking enough can leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate.

How much fluid?

The amount of fluid we need depends on how active we are and how warm it is. 

  • Children aged five to eight years old should drink 1.6 litres a day
  • Girls aged nine to 13 should drink 1.9 litres a day
  • Boys aged nine to thirteen should drink 2.1 litres a day
  • Teenage girls and adult women should drink 2 litres a day
  • Teenage boys and adult men should drink 2.5 litres a day

Water

Top tips to help you drink more water are:

  • Place a jug of water on the table at mealtimes and have a glass of water with each meal
  • Carry a reusable bottle of water to school, work or play and sip on water throughout the day
  • If you don’t like the taste of water add some chopped fruit for flavour, try sliced lemon

Milk

  • Low-fat or semi-skimmed milk is the healthier choice for adults and teenagers. However, children under the age of two need the extra calories provided by full fat or whole milk.
  • Fat-free or skimmed milk is only suitable for children over the age of five.
  • If you use plant-based drinks instead of milk, then choose one that is fortified with calcium.  

Juices and smoothies

It's best to limit the amount of juice or smoothies you drink to one small glass a day, or around 150ml.

Juices and smoothies can count towards your recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, but only count as one portion, regardless of how much you drink.

Here are some juicy tips:

  • Choose 100% pure fruit juices or smoothies
  • Choose those with no added sugar, honey or syrup
  • Drink fruit juice with your main meals, as they are less damaging to teeth this way

Sugary drinks

Other sugary drinks include:

  • fizzy drinks
  • flavoured water
  • squash
  • juice drinks
  • cordials 

These drinks can have a lot of added sugar and very few beneficial nutrients. It's best to have them only occasionally. 

Tips for reducing sugary drinks:

  • Check the label. Choose low-sugar, no added sugar, diet or zero varieties of drinks. These contain less sugar but are still quite acidic and harmful to teeth
What's on the label What it means
Low-sugar 2.5g or less of sugar per 100ml
No added sugar No sugars have been added but there may be natural sugars present
Diet or zero No sugar
  • Add plenty of water to cordials and squashes. Add extra water each time to reduce your taste for sweetness
  • Use a straw when drinking to reduce damage to teeth

Tea and coffee 

Tea and coffee also count towards your daily fluid intake. However, tea and coffee contain caffeine and caffeinated drinks 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 healthy adults caffeine consumption up to 400 mg over the course of 24 hours is safe. It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day.

How much caffeine is in your tea and coffee?

Drink Caffeine
Cup of coffee (brewed)  111 mg
Cup of coffee (instant) 78 mg
Cup of coffee (decaffeinated) 4 mg
Shot of espresso 40 mg
Cup of black tea 44 mg
Cup of herbal tea 0 mg
Cup of cocoa 8 mg

The exact amount of caffeine will vary according to cup size, brewing method and brand of coffee or tea.

  • One cup = 200ml
  • One shot = 30ml

Tips for choosing healthier hot drinks

  • Ask for drinks to be made with low fat milk instead of full fat
  • Order a regular or the smallest size available
  • ​Skip the added extras – syrups and cream will add extra calories

Energy drinks

Do you know what’s in your energy drink? Our research shows that one 500ml energy drink can contain up to 17 level teaspoons of sugar and the same amount of caffeine as in 2 cups of espresso. Energy drinks are not suitable for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

 

Why children should not drink energy drinks

  • High doses of caffeine are unsafe to children, and can result in dangerous side effects and cause anxiety in children and adolescents.
  • Most energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar and calories, but no nutritional benefit.
  • Sugary energy drinks can cause weight gain and contribute to childhood obesity.

Why pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink energy drinks

  • It's a good idea for pregnant and breastfeeding women to restrict their caffeine intake to less than 200mg a day.  This is about the same as two mugs of instant coffee.
  • Too much caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage. 
  • It can also increase your baby’s risk of being small or growing slowly.
  • Caffeine can reach your baby through your breast milk and may keep them awake.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and can make your baby restless.

Sports drinks

  • Save sports drinks for times you are taking part in intense sport lasting more than 60 minutes - they're not an everyday drink.
  • Like other fizzy drinks and squashes, they contain calories and sugar and can contribute to tooth decay and weight gain. 
  • Water is the best way to rehydrate. But if you do decide to have one of these drinks alongside your exercise, choose one that is free from caffeine. 

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