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Ask Sam...



Can I get all my daily fruit and veg portions from juice?

Drinking juice isn't enough on its own to make up the five daily fruit and veg portions we should all aim for. A glass of fruit and/or vegetable juice (150ml) counts as a portion of fruit and veg, but juice can't make up more than one portion a day, however much you drink.

This is because you don't get the same nutritional benefits from juice as you get from whole fruit and veg. When juice is extracted from the whole fruit or vegetable, it reduces the fibre content and releases a type of sugar from the fruit or veg that can damage teeth, especially if you drink it frequently.

This is why it's better, particularly for children, to keep fruit juice to mealtimes and stick to either milk or water between meals.

Variety is one of the keys to a healthy balanced diet, and this applies just as much to the fruit and veg you eat. The more types of whole fruit and veg you can include the better, because different fruit and veg contain different nutrients. And including a range of colours, flavours and textures can help make food more interesting and enjoyable.

We should all be aiming to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried varieties can all count towards your daily portions. Remember, juice only counts as a fruit and veg portion if it's 100% juice. It still counts if it's made from concentrate, pasteurised or long life. But squash and 'juice drinks' don't count because they also contain water and added sugar.

Why is it important to drink lots of water and how much should an adult drink each day?

Water is extremely important for our bodies to work properly. This is because water is responsible for moving nutrients around the body and most of the chemical reactions within our cells take place in water.

As your body works it produces waste products. Some of these waste products are toxic and the body gets rid of them through the kidneys in urine, which is mainly made up of water.

We also lose water by evaporation when we breathe and sweat. As the temperature rises and we do more activity, this increases the amount of water the body loses. To stay healthy, you need to replace the fluids that you lose.

In moderate climates, such as the UK, we should drink at least 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water (or other fluid) to prevent dehydration. In hotter climates your body will need more fluids.

Drinks that contain caffeine (such as tea, coffee and cola) can act as diuretics, which means they can make your body lose greater volumes of water than usual. So these drinks can lead to an increased need for water or other fluids that don't have a diuretic effect.

Drinks that contain sugar, such as fruit juice, some squashes and fizzy drinks, should also be drunk sparingly, because they can contribute to tooth decay. However, one glass of fruit juice can count towards the five portions of fruit and veg that we are recommended to eat each day.

I aim to drink the recommended daily fluid intake but water's so boring! Is tea OK instead?

It is very important for everyone to drink lots of fluid every day to help stay healthy. As a rough guide, around six to eight cups, mugs or glasses of fluid per day are recommended. You can get this from a number of sources, not just from water. Personal preference and availability play an important role in determining what you might choose to drink.

Of course, it's easier to drink the right amount of fluid if you actually like the taste of the drink, and many people like the taste of tea and find it very refreshing.

For people who really don't like the taste of water by itself, it's certainly better to drink tea than to drink nothing at all. However, tea is also a diuretic. This means that it will make you urinate. Excessive amounts of tea should be avoided because it also contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. Drinking tea with meals can reduce the amount of iron the body can absorb from your food. So it's especially important for children to avoid drinking tea, especially at mealtimes.

If you don't like the taste of water, you could try sparkling water from a bottle, or add some squash or other fruit juice to give it some flavour. You could also add a slice of lemon or lime to brighten it up. Avoid having lots of sugary drinks because they may promote tooth decay, particularly in children.

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