The most essential drink you need to quench your thirst is water. Not tea, not coffee, fizzy drinks, or alcohol, but water. There are so many health benefits of drinking water it’s hard to imagine why some people aren’t keen. Apart from being essential to life and keeping your body from dehydrating, it keeps you focused, helps your brain to concentrate, moisturises your skin, and flushes out toxins.
A nation of tea drinkers
The traditional British habit of drinking tea is now equalled by the trend towards coffee – apparently 1/3 of our high street shops are eating and drinking outlets, many of them cafes. Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks are diuretics – that means that they drain the body of water, and yet many people are drinking them all day long.
Fortunately there is also a trend towards drinking water and bottled water has had a boom in sales for many years, but carrying water in plastic bottles can also be a health hazard. See our Competitions page where you can win One Green Bottle.
So what’s enough water?
According to the Food Standards Agency you should drink between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day (1.2 litres). If it’s hot this could be even more and it’s even more vital to drink water on a warm day.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, PhD. Rnutr. independent scientific advisor to the Natural Hydration Council, comments: ‘Symptoms of over-heating and dehydration include a rise in body temperature, feeling sweaty, dizzy, faint and developing headaches. Whilst it’s best that we all try to keep cool, children and the elderly are at particular risk of heat stress. This makes it doubly important that these individuals top up their fluid intakes on hot days.’
Some tips for hydration in warm weather*
1. Drink at regular intervals throughout the day, preferably water.
2. Take water out with you so you have access to it (keep it in the fridge so that it’s cool), especially when you’re travelling in hot weather.
3. Try to remember to drink a glass of water before leaving home in the morning.
4. If you enjoy tea, coffee, fruit juices and squash match each one with a glass of water. In Greece you always get a glass of water with every drink you order.
5. Alcohol is dehydrating and should be balanced with plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, such as water.
6. Children and old people are especially at risk in warm weather so ensure that they have plenty of cold fluids.
*Courtesy of the Natural Hydration Council www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk
Why must it be water?
Water is a macro-nutrient and is the only fluid we need to hydrate when following a healthy lifestyle. Water has plenty of benefits:
• It contains zero sugar.
• It is calorie free and has no preservatives or additives.
• It aids digestion and metabolism.
• Replenishes natural fluids depleted by other diuretic drinks (tea or coffee).
• It is a key part of the body’s cooling system.
Despite offering so many natural health advantages, the average Briton drinks just 200ml of water a day.
What’s wrong with drinking other fluids?
• Tea and coffee contain caffeine and if you add sugar they are high in calories.
• Milk is good for you, but full cream milk contains saturated fats and so adults and older children should drink skimmed or semi-skimmed.
• Fruit juice and smoothies contain fruit which is also good for you, but fruit contains sugar too and is acidic.
• All soft drinks containing sugar increase calorie intake and are bad for teeth.