Healthy hydration: why drinking the right thing is important

A woman that is resting after her exercise is also drinking a fresh and healthy cucumber drink.

There’s nothing quite like a refreshing cold drink on a hot summer’s day. So when the weather’s warm and your thirst kicks in, it’s better to choose healthier options to keep hydrated.

You might be surprised to learn that many soft drinks, fruit juices and energy drinks have more hidden calories and free sugars than you realise.

For example, a 330ml can of cola has around 11 teaspoons of sugar! When we take a closer look at these types of drinks, it’s clear that they have few of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

The tricky part is that you can easily drink a lot of these types of drinks without feeling full, which means you’re drinking more calories and free sugars than you might expect. And if you’re drinking these often, and in large amounts, it can lead to weight gain over time.

Our research shows that living with overweight or obesity is linked to at least 13 types of cancer. That’s why limiting sugar-sweetened drinks is one of our Cancer Prevention Recommendations. Not only does drinking sugary drinks regularly increase your cancer risk, but it can also contribute to tooth decay.

But before we dive into tips for healthier hydration, let’s take a moment to discuss how much hydration you need every day.

How much should you drink every day?

In the UK, the recommended amount is 6-8 glasses of fluid every day. However, this can vary from person to person – for example, you may need to drink a bit more on hot days, during or after exercise, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Getting enough fluid doesn’t mean just drinking water – it can also come from squashes, fruit and vegetable juice or smoothies, low-fat milk and dairy alternative drinks, tea and coffee. But remember, it’s best to choose unsweetened versions and avoid adding sugar to keep it healthier.

Did you know that you can even get hydration from food? Yes, delicious water-rich foods like cucumbers, apples, watermelons, tomatoes and mushrooms can contribute to your daily fluid intake!

But not having enough fluid during the day can lead to dehydration, causing headaches, a loss of concentration and tiredness. That’s why, especially in the warmer weather, it’s important you’re drinking enough.

How can you tell if you’ve hydrated enough? Look at the colour of your pee. If it’s a pale-yellow colour, well done! You’re doing a great job at keeping hydrated. But if it’s a darker yellow colour, it’s a sign that you should be drinking more fluids.

Your guide to healthier hydration

Cold cucumber mocktail drink with mintWhen it comes to keeping hydrated, nothing beats water. Water is essential for life, for your overall health and helps your body function at its best.

But hey, we get it, not everyone loves the taste of plain water. So why not add a squeeze of lemon, lime or some mint? You can also try adding a bit of sugar-free squash for a burst of flavour.

A good way to keep on track with your hydration needs is by setting a daily goal or keeping a water bottle on hand wherever you go. Don’t forget to get up and refill your bottle or glass regularly, as it not only helps you stay hydrated but also encourages you to break up long periods of sitting and stay active throughout the day.

Do you enjoy your fruit and veg juices or smoothies too? Just remember to only have one 150ml glass a day. An even better idea it is making your own, as store-bought juices and smoothies can be quite acidic which isn’t good for your dental health.

Try these delicious no-added sugar recipes:

> Apple and carrot smoothie

> Filling fruit smoothie

When the occasional craving for a soft drink comes up, choose the sugar-free alternative.

If you’ve heard about aspartame in the news recently and are unsure about how much is safe to drink, we’ve got you covered with some updated guidance on the safe amounts you can have.

> Read our Q&A about aspartame

When you’re in the mood for a refreshing summer drink, why not shake things up and try out our tasty and healthier drink recipes instead of reaching for a soft drink. We’ve got 5 great options.

> Strawberry cooler

> Peach iced tea

> Ginger zinger

> Cucumber cooler

> Virgin sangria

Read more