As summer approaches and the temperature rises our need for fluid increases. Not drinking enough on a hot day can put us at risk of developing heat stroke. But how do we know how much to drink and, are some drinks better than others?
Your body is nearly two-thirds water and it is important to consume enough fluid to stay hydrated and healthy. If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, get headaches and not perform at your best.
’Fluid’ includes water from the tap and drinks such as milk, tea, coffee and fruit juices. You also get water from the food you eat – food provides about 20% of your total fluid intake. Strong alcoholic drinks do not count as they cause fluid to be lost from the body.
The amount of fluid you need depends on the weather, how much physical activity you do and your age. European recommendations suggest about eight 200 ml glasses for women and about ten 200 ml glasses for men. This is on top of the water in food eaten.
Young children are less heat tolerant and more susceptible to dehydration than adults. They should be encouraged to drink regularly particularly when it is hot. Children should aim to drink six to eight glasses of fluid per day (on top of the water provided by food in their diet). Younger children need 120–150 ml serving and older children need 250–300 ml serving.
Many drinks contain water plus essential vitamins and minerals. They may also provide energy (calories) in the form of sugar which can damage teeth and contribute to weight gain. Fruit juices and carbonated drinks are acidic and may damage teeth if consumed frequently.
Water is a great choice because it delivers fluid without adding calories or damaging teeth.
Milk & milk alternatives like Oat Drink, contain nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and calcium, as well as being a source of water.
Tea and coffee deliver water, and even though these drinks can contain caffeine, in moderate amounts caffeine doesn’t affect hydration.
Fruit juices and smoothies provide water plus some vitamins, minerals and fibre. A small glass (150 ml) counts towards your 5-A-DAY but does contain sugar and can be acidic.
Feeling thirsty is your body’s way of telling you that you need to drink more. Pale straw coloured urine indicates you are getting enough water. If you are urinating infrequently, not passing much urine and your urine is a dark yellow colour this is a sign you are not drinking enough. You need to drink more if it is hot, or if your temperature is high due to physical activity or illness.
Older adults may have a weaker sense of thirst and, if necessary, should be encouraged to drink regularly.