Staying properly hydrated is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It helps to keep our braindigestive systemheart, and immune system working properly, while giving us more energy and even boosting our mental health.

Though, sometimes, making sure we drink enough water can be difficult. With all the tasty drinks on offer these days, water can seem quite bland in comparison, and some people simply don’t like the taste.

So, to help you get your NHS recommended six to eight cups of fluid a day, we’ve come up with nine healthy and hydrating alternatives to water, so you can make sure your body is getting all that it needs.

1. Milk

Milk

Milk is an excellent drink choice if you’re looking to hydrate yourself. In fact, this study found that both full-fat and skimmed milk had a higher beverage hydration index (BHI) than water.

This means that your body retains more water after drinking milk than it does plain water – so you stay hydrated for longer.

When we sweat, we lose both salt and water, so it’s important that when we rehydrate our bodies, we replace both of these things. If we just replace the water, our body will get rid of it via urine to balance it out with our salt content. But by drinking milk, which is a natural source of sodium (present in small amounts), we can replenish both our water and salt levels; causing our body to retain more water.

Milk is also a good source of potassium, protein, and carbohydrates, which can also help with water retention.

If you’re looking to limit the number of calories and fat you’re consuming, then it’s best to choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk over full-fat. And remember, as with anything, milk should be consumed in moderation. Health experts suggest that we drink no more than three cups a day.

2. Soya milk

Soya milk

There are many reasons why you might not want to drink cow’s milk. Perhaps you’re lactose intolerant or you follow a plant-based diet for health or ethical reasons. Fortunately, soya milk provides an alternative to cow’s milk that’s also good for hydration.

Like cow’s milk, soya milk has a high water and protein content, and it also contains electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which help the body to retain more fluid.

Although there’s little research about exactly how good soya milk and other milk alternatives are for hydrating your body, this study found that, alongside cow’s milk, soya milk was a better choice for re-hydrating the body after exercise than sports drinks.

3. Coconut water

Coconut water

Coconut water has become a very popular drink over the past few years, not only because of its refreshing, nutty flavour but also because of the various health properties associated with it. For one, it’s a good source of antioxidants, which can help to combat harmful, unstable molecules in our bodies (known as free radicals).

Coconut water is also thought to help lower blood sugar for people living with diabetes and is a good source of various vitamins and minerals. But did you know that it’s also a good source of hydration?

Because it contains electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, experts believe it to be even more effective at re-hydrating our bodies than plain water.

Plus, unlike other fruit juices, coconut water is low in calories. So if you want to make the most of the health benefits of coconut water, try to buy the kind with no added sugar.

4. Water infusions

Water infusions

Although it’s still technically water, infusing good old H2O with fruit, vegetables, and herbs can be an excellent way to make great tasting drinks that keep you hydrated. Plus, because all they contain is water and your chosen fresh ingredients, they’re low in calories as well.

You can buy read-made infused water. Though, it’s worth keeping in mind that many brands have added sugar, which can actually contribute to dehydration if consumed in high amounts. Plus, if you’re drinking multiple glasses a day, the calories can quickly add up.

But luckily, making infused water at home couldn’t be easier. Simply pick your fresh produce, add it to water – you can let it float freely or you can use an infuser jug/bottle to keep things separate – and leave it to steep for three or four hours in the fridge.

From strawberry and basil to lemon and blueberry, the combinations are endless, so making infusions is a great chance to get creative. But if you’d like some inspiration, this article from Culinary Hill has some great suggestions. These tasty creations are a great alternative if you’re in the mood for a soft drink and want to maximise hydration while keeping calories low.

5. Kombucha

Kombucha

Thought to have originated in ancient China, kombucha is a fermented tea that’s been consumed for centuries. But recently, it’s had a massive spike in popularity. Kombucha is made by adding a specific mix of bacteria and yeast into black or green tea, along with sugar.

What makes it a good contributor to your daily fluids isn’t only that it hydrates you, but because it has many other health benefits; the chief of which is that it generally contains a large amount of healthy bacteria, which can be good for your digestive system.

Although you can make kombucha at home, the fermentation process can be tricky and, if done wrong, it could cause you harm. So we generally recommend buying your kombucha ready-made. You can buy it in a range of flavours in supermarkets, health food shops, or online.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that drinking too much kombucha may lead to excessive calorie consumption, bloating, and digestive issues, so it’s important to drink it in moderation. To give you an idea of how much you can have, the Centre for Disease Control in the U.S recommends that up to 12 ounces (around 340ml) can be safely consumed each day.

6. Coffee

Coffee

Whether you need your daily caffeine fix or you simply love the taste, coffee is a staple of many of our diets – and lots of us wouldn’t have it any other way. But, luckily, you don’t have to, as drinking coffee in moderation can actually be an effective source of hydration.

For some, this may come as a surprise, as coffee is often thought to be dehydrating. This is because studies like this one have shown that caffeine may have a diuretic effect on our kidneys – causing us to urinate more frequently and, therefore, lose more water.

Though, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that caffeine only has a significant diuretic effect when you consume more than 500mg per day – which would equate to more than five shots of espresso.

However, to keep our hearts healthy and prevent an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), the NHS recommends that we stick to no more than four cups a day.

So, if you want to stay hydrated, drinking a coffee or two a day won’t hurt – it might even help. To read more about the relationship between coffee and hydration, why not check out this article from Healthline?

7. Tea

Tea

Tea is another drink that can give your body a hydration boost. Though, how effective your cuppa is at hydrating you will depend on what variety you choose.

Many types of tea contain caffeine – for example, black and green tea. When drinking these types of tea with hydration in mind, the same rules as with coffee apply: try to drink them in moderation because large amounts will have a diuretic effect and cause you to expel more fluid through urination.

To do this, it’s best to keep your caffeinated tea consumption to under 500mg. If you’re wondering what this looks like, BBC Good Food tells us that the average cup of black tea with milk contains around 47mg of caffeine and the typical mug of green tea clocks in at 33mg. Though, just as with coffee, it’s generally best to limit your tea consumption to no more than four cups a day.

Alternatively, herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, and chamomile don’t contain caffeine and are great alternatives to water. Plus, each comes with its own additional benefits. For example, this study suggests drinking ginger tea may be beneficial for reducing pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.

To read more about the various benefits of different types of tea, why not check out this article from Good Housekeeping?

8. Fruit and vegetable juice

Fruit and vegetable juice

Lots of us like to start our day with a refreshing glass of OJ, and it can be a great way to give our bodies a hydration kick. Plus, fruit and vegetable juice contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are excellent for our overall health.

However, fruit juice especially contains a lot of sugar, so the NHS recommends limiting your overall juice consumption to 150ml (one small glass) per day. Though, you can always consider diluting it with some still or sparkling water.

A blanket rule when it comes to hydration is to try and avoid consuming too many drinks with high sugar content. This is because experts believe that an increased sugar level in cells causes the body to transfer more water out of them. This, in turn, leads to more frequent urination and dehydration.

If you want to take advantage of all the health benefits of fruit and vegetable juice, try to buy 100% juices with no added sugar. Also, it’s best to beware of ‘juice drinks’ – which are basically just soft drinks dressed up as juice.

9. Broth-based soups

Broth-based soups

While this one might not technically be a drink, broth-based soups can contain up to 92% water (depending on how chunky or creamy you want yours to be), so they’re a great way to get your daily dose of fluids.

What makes brothy soups so hydrating is that they’re a good source of sodium which, as we’ve already discussed, is one of the main electrolytes we lose when we sweat. So they’re particularly effective at re-hydrating our bodies after a workout.

Plus, when made right, soups can contain a whole host of other nutritional things, like protein and vegetables. And they’re convenient, as we can feed and hydrate ourselves in one go.

Popular broth-based soups include Wonton, chicken noodle, and French onion. For some tasty broth-based soup ideas, why not check out this article from Feasting at Home?

Note: While food and drinks containing sodium are great for re-hydrating our bodies, it’s important not to consume too much, as too much salt (in which sodium is found) can lead to high blood pressure. The NHS recommends that adults should eat no more than 6g (around one teaspoon) of salt per day, which is 2.4g of sodium.

Final thoughts…

When it comes to hydration, a good rule of thumb is to remember that water is your best bet. Not only is it the cheapest option, but it also has zero calories and sugar, which is helpful for maintaining healthy teeth and a healthy weight.

Though, if you’re struggling to get your NHS recommended six to eight cups a day, then these nine healthy and hydrating drinks will make good substitutes. As with all things, just try to remember to drink them in moderation.

It’s also best to try to keep your consumption of soft drinks (like fizzy sodas, squash, and energy drinks) to a minimum. This is not only because they offer little nutritional value, but also because they tend to contain lots of calories and additives.

Alcoholic drinks like beer, wine, and spirits should also only be consumed in moderation. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, which, as we’ve said, means that you’ll actually end up losing more water than you consume, resulting in dehydration. The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

For more information on hydration, including information on why it’s important and some tips to help you drink more water throughout the day, then why not check out our article; 11 tips for staying hydrated and why it’s important?

What’s your favourite drink for staying hydrated? Is it on this list? If not, what is it? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum or leave a comment below.

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