Replacement of the body’s water and salt losses is essential to maintain appropriate hydration and a good health status. Replacement of water can be achieved through food and beverages. It is calculated that of the total water needed, 20% typically comes from food and 80% from beverages, but this may vary greatly, depending on the diet that an individual chooses.

Water intake can be increased by increasing the variety of different drinks in the diet. Many beverages, including water, and many different foods provide water for the body to prevent dehydration. Some drinks contain energy, usually in the form of sugar (sucrose), so that energy needs should be taken into account when making drink choices. Drinks containing sugar or that are acidic in nature, for example, fruit juices and some beverages should not be frequently sipped as this may affect teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices with the presence of fluoride is important in maintaining good dental health.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)* Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) has recently published a Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. The reference values for total daily water intake include water, beverages of all kinds, and water from foods.

* EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on Dietary reference values for water. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3):1459. [48 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1459. Available online: www.efsa.europa.eu.


Many types of water may be available for drinking: tap water, artesian water, bottled water, mineral water, purified water, spring water. All waters used for drinking are treated to meet legal and quality standards. In most European countries, tap water is palatable and perfectly safe, but this is not true in all parts of the world. Water has many advantages, including availability, cost and the absence of calories, but for many it loses out on taste.


The name fruit juice is reserved for drinks that are 100% pure fruit juice and contain sugars taken from the fruit, either sucrose, fructose or glucose. Consumption of juices can help children and adults meet the daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption. Juice drinks contain some juice along with added water and either caloric or non-caloric sweeteners. Juices or juice drinks contain a source of energy in the form of sugars, though this is reduced in the case of juice drinks that contain non-caloric sweeteners.

Milk, Ice creams and milkshakes

Milk contains several essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin.

Ice creams and milkshakes can be made with a base of water or milk. Usually they are made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, combined with fruits or other ingredients, and contain flavourings and sugar or sweeteners. These products provide a source of energy as they contain sugars, fat and protein. Reduced fat milk can provide water and essential nutrients and are reduced in calories


Infusions are prepared with water and herbs or parts of plants such as flowers or fruits, and can be taken hot or cold. Tea and coffee are the most popular hot drinks in the world and can also be a good source of hydration as they have a very high water content.

Soft drinks

A soft drink is a non-alcoholic beverage, that can be carbonated or not, and that contain flavourings, sweeteners and other ingredients. Beverages like colas, iced tea, lemonade, squash, sparkling water and fruit punch are among the most common types of soft drinks. Soft drinks typically have between 90 to 99% water content.

Sports drinks

Sport drinks are intended to reduce water, mineral and energy imbalance due to physical exertion. These drinks contain small amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) and electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. When exercising for short periods or at low intensities, it may not be necessary to drink anything: water is perfectly adequate in these situations if something is needed. For reasons of variety and taste sports drinks may be preferred in this situation. When the exercise lasts longer than about 30-40 minutes, sports drinks may be better than water. One key benefit of taking sports drinks during an exercise session is that they can help to reduce the sensation of effort. This makes exercise seem easier and this means that the individual will be more likely to enjoy the exercise program and therefore more likely to stick with it.