Healthy Drinks and Recommended Fluid Intake

Although the general guidelines issued by the Government, recommend a minimum of 2 litres (3-1/2 pints) of fluids per day for a relatively active adult, there are a few factors that can affect the fluid intake requirements. These include:

• Breast-feeding

• Exercise

• Alcohol consumption

• Fever (fluids are lost through sweating)

• Hot weather

• Consumption of diuretics, including drinks containing caffeine.

• A diet high in fibre

• Medical conditions, such as blood loss, diarrhoea, uncontrolled diabetes (which will result in excessive urination).

Drinking Milk

fluid intake is importantMilk is an important source of calories for children. It supplies protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals. Full-fat milk is also a source of saturated fats. Although adults may prefer to drink skimmed and semi-skimmed milks because they contain less calories, these milks are not suitable for children. Growing children need the extra calories supplied by full-fat milk. However, parents should be aware that milk intake can affect a child’s appetite for other foods.

Weaning a Baby

Many parents find it helpful to keep a weaning diary. This involves recording each food that the baby eats and then monitoring any adverse effects (such as rashes, sneezing and stomach upsets) which may indicate a food intolerance. Introducing new foods one at a time makes it easy to identify any foods that cause problems. Foods that cause adverse effects should be withdrawn and reintroduced experimentally later on.

Many parents prefer to wean babies on home-cooked foods. Although prepared ‘convenience’ baby foods contain added vitamins and minerals, their salt and sugar levels may be higher than necessary. Always check the labels and remember that sugar appears under many different names, including glucose, fructose, dextrose, sucrose and malt.

It is advisable to introduce new foods to a baby when he is likely to be most receptive – that is, at times when he is well-rested and happy.

The Origins of Cola Drinks

Cola soft drinks (based on an extract from the seeds of the cola tree) are extremely popular. The original cola drink was invented for medicinal purposes by American pharmacist John Styth Pemberton in 1886. He prepared a mixture of coca leaves, cola nuts and caffeine as a cure for hangovers and headaches. A decade later, another cola drink was developed to treat dyspepsia.

Coca leaves are no longer used in cola drinks. Now the stimulating effect comes from caffeine.

A healthy liver is essential to many of the body’s processes. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, in which the liver produces fibrous scar tissue in response to damage to its cells.

Side-Effects of Caffeine

A number of side-effects have been linked to an excessive intake of caffeine. These include:

• An increased risk of complicated delivery during childbirth.

• A stimulating effect on the adrenal glands and nervous system, and an increase in heart rate.

• An increase in the production of stomach acid, higher blood-sugar levels and an increase in fat breakdown.

• Anxiety, shaking, sleeplessness and an irregular heartbeat in sensitive individuals.

• Craving and withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and vomiting.

• Increased calcium loss.

• A diuretic effect: that is, it increases urination.

• Possible connection with benign breast lumps and cysts in women.

Healthy Juice Drinks

For information on juice drinks as a way of incorporating fluid into your diet, see Healthy Drinks Other Than Water.