Healthy Lifestyle

A litre or more of water

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Fulfilling a 2012 New Year’s resolution by the skin of my teeth. About 8 hours to go till 2013. Hurrah!

As a dietitian I am often asked questions regarding fluids e.g. how much should I drink? Does tea and coffee count? And what about carbonated beverages? Where do they fit in? So I thought my first blog post should be all about this very simple thing: fluid.
How much fluid should we drink every day?
We are all somewhat different and what we need is determined by 3 things. How much we eat. What the weather is like. How much activity do we do. The American Institute of Medicine gives guidelines suggesting women need approximately 2.5 litres per day of fluid and men need just under 3 litres. But this is not all from drinking liquids as we get some of our fluids from the foods we eat – around 20%. So working backwards this leaves women generally needing about 2 litres of fluid and men needing around 2.5 litres of fluid.
So now what should we drink?
Considering the options we have water, tea, coffee, milk, juices, and carbonated beverages as drinks which could contribute to our daily intake of fluids. The Harvard School of Public Health has helpfully put these into a list in just the above order. Ideally, we should drink about half of our fluid requirements as plain and simple water. So if we can all drink a litre or more of water everyday we will be well on our way to healthy hydration. Tea and coffee come next on the list with interesting evidence coming out regularly around the healthy benefits of these delicious drinks (but that’s for another post). Lower fat milks are an excellent way of getting fluid and other nutrition with a suggestion of one to two servings per day (250ml – 500ml) helping to meet calcium needs too. No more than one small glass (100ml) of juice per day is a good idea, particularly if weight management is topping your priority list. Lastly we have the carbonated beverages which although some may imbibe and consider delicious should really be drunk as a treat. The reality is that these fizzy drinks (diet and ordinary) are not contributing anything to your healthy diet and in fact may be doing some harm.  It is possible that fizzy drinks may stimulate high sugar cravings encouraging us to seek out sugary and high carbohydrate foods.

So drink and be merry this New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is the first day of 2013. A day to consider water as a wondrous thing!

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