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Choose WATER – Rethink Your Drink!

“Rethink Your Drink – Choose Water” is the theme for National Nutrition Week, celebrated every year from the 9th to the 15th of October. The theme is selected with the nutritional education needs of South Africans in mind and should therefore not be dismissed.


Sugar sweetened beverages are consumed in excessive quantities by many a South African and are contributing to the rise in obesity and diabetes in our country. Some people consume sugar laden beverages without even realizing it. A high sugar content is not limited to fizzy drinks alone. The following beverages may contain significant additions of sugar:

  • Flavoured water
  • Fruit & Veggie Juices
  • Energy drinks
  • Juice concentrates
  • Flavoured milk
  • Iced tea
  • Vitamin water
  • Aloe water
  • Milkshakes
  • Mochas
  • Iced coffees

Checking labels is very important when purchasing beverages. Every 5 grams of sugar, listed below the total carbohydrate content, is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar. While we can consume up to 10% of our daily energy intake as sugar, it is likely that we meet this intake with food alone. This means that sugar containing beverages more often than not contribute to excessive daily energy intakes and the promotion of obesity.  That said, drinking a sugar containing beverage instead of eating a meal or a healthy snack is not advisable. Replacing nutrient dense food with beverages (including coffee) results in a displacing of the nutrients required for optimal health.

Adequate hydration is essential because water:

  • promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation
  • naturally detoxes the body by assisting in the elimination of toxins
  • makes up 75% of the brain – hydration improves concentration and reduces fatigue
  • aids in the transport, digestion and absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste
  • regulates body temperature
  • maintains an optimal blood volume

Dehydration can result in the symptoms below:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • low blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • reduced performance during exercise
  • lower back pain and joint pain
  • constipation
  • darkly coloured urine

While different people will need more or less than the typical recommendation of 6 – 8 glasses of water per day and some foods contribute to our water intake, monitoring the colour of your (or your child’s) urine is the best indicator. Pale yellow to clear urine is a sign of adequate hydration.


5 Tips for maintaining good hydration

  1. Drink plenty of clean safe water throughout the day, rather than sugar containing beverages
  2. Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink water
  3. Drink water before exercising 
  4. Keep water handy, do not get stuck without it
  5. Drink more water on hot days

5 Tips to increase water consumption

  1. Keep a water glass handy and clock a few steps to fill it up regularly
  2. Carry a water bottle when running errands
  3. Make homemade ice tea (chilled herbal tea with fruit or vegetables and ice)
  4. Use sliced fruits, vegetables or herbs to add flavour to plain water
  5. Add fruits and herbs when making ice cubes



Read: How much food are you drinking?

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