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Water, drinks and hydration

Find out which drinks are healthier choices, and how to get enough fluids every day to stay hydrated.

Water is a healthy and cheap choice to keep you hydrated, but other drinks can also count towards your fluid intake. We also get some fluids from the foods we eat.

Not getting enough fluids can lead to dehydration.

Daily fluid intake

Most people should aim to drink enough during the day so their pee is a clear pale yellow colour.

The Eatwell Guide recommends that people should aim to drink 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.

You may need to drink more fluids if you're:

  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • in a hot environment
  • physically active for long periods
  • ill or recovering from illness


The best drinks to give children are water and milk. Children should drink whole milk until they're 2 years old.

Children should avoid sugary fizzy drinks, squash and juice drinks completely. Children who drink a lot of sugary drinks are more likely to become overweight. The added sugar in these drinks can also damage teeth.

Read about drinks for babies and young children

Tips to help you stay hydrated with healthier drinks


  • drink regularly throughout the day

  • swap sugary drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar drinks

  • adults can choose lower fat milk, such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk and unsweetened plant-based drinks

  • limit fruit juice and smoothies to a maximum of one small glass (150ml) a day and drink with a meal, as they're high in sugar

  • check nutrition labels on drinks – look for drinks with green or amber colour-coded labels

  • drink extra fluids if you've been sweating from physical activity, or if you're unwell – water is the best way to replace lost fluids

  • dilute squash drinks or cordials well to reduce the sugar content

  • drink caffeine in moderation – some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, depending on how much they drink and how often. Check the label for drinks that are high in caffeine.

  • if you don't like the taste of water, try sparkling water, no added sugar squash, or add a slice of lemon or lime


  • do not have drinks that are high in sugar too often – they're higher in calories and the sugar can damage your teeth

  • do not have more than 200mg of caffeine a day if you're pregnant – this could increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight

Further information

Cut down on sugar


As well as limiting caffeine to 200mg per day, find out more about foods to avoid in pregnancy.

Choose healthier drinks

Find out more about reading food and drink labels.

Page last reviewed: 17 May 2023
Next review due: 17 May 2026