Diet soft drinks, low-carb beers, iced tea, fruit juices, smoothies, flavoured water – the choices seem endless! Each year, more drinks come onto the market and a greater amount of our total energy (or kilojoule) intake now comes from drinks.
So what should we be drinking, and how much?
The human body is made up of 50-75% water. Staying well-hydrated (especially in hot weather and when exercising) is crucial to making sure our bodies function at their best. There are many theories about the right amount to drink, but the following is a good guide to aim for:
- 1,500 – 2,000mL/day (or 35-45mL/kg/day) for adults, and
- 1,000 – 1,500mL/day for children
What is the best drink?
While all fluids can count towards your daily fluid intake, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends water as the best drink. It contains no kilojoules and is the best fluid for hydrating the body.
Tips for drinking water:
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, to add variety to plain water
- Pop ice cubes made from fruit into your glass of water
- Keep a glass of water handy on your desk, or a bottle of water in your bag or backpack
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating also recommends milk, particularly low-fat varieties for adults, as part of a healthy diet. Milk has important nutrients, like protein and calcium, and is about 90% water.
If you are buying flavoured milk, compare brands and select those that are lower in saturated fat and added sugar. Watch the serve sizes of smoothies, which may be ‘super-sized’, and can contain a lot of kilojoules.
Fruit juice can give you valuable nutrients, but most types naturally contain a similar amount of sugar and kilojoules to soft drinks. Big serve sizes from juice bars have become very popular.
Tips for drinking fruit juice:
- Avoid the super-sizes
- Limit juice to 125mL (½ glass) a day
- Try diluting juice with water or ice
Sugary soft drinks, fruit drinks and cordials
These drinks are low in nutrition but can contain plenty of extra kilojoules which you may not need. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating considers these as ‘extra foods’; in other words, they are not needed in your diet and should be limited.
Diet varieties may be lower in energy and sugar, but remember diet soft drinks can be quite acidic and too much of these drinks may contribute to tooth decay.
Tea and coffee
These can be important sources of fluid to help you to meet your daily fluid needs. Both black and green teas have antioxidants, which can help promote good health.
A standard cup of tea contains less than half the amount of caffeine of a typical cup of instant coffee (one cup of tea contains around 10-50mg of caffeine and a cup of instant coffee contains between 60-100mg per 250ml cup). When served without milk or sugar, tea and coffee contain virtually no kilojoules. But watch iced-teas as some are quite high in added sugar.
In moderation, alcohol can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but drinking too much can be harmful. Current recommendations suggest women and men may safely include a maximum of two standard alcoholic drinks per day.
Both men and women should also try to include two alcohol-free days per week. ‘Low carb’ beers and wines have recently become popular. Although these are lower in carbohydrate than regular varieties, the alcohol and kilojoule content is often very similar to other types of beer and wine.