The summer sun’s hot rays can make drinking water an obvious priority. However, as the weather shifts to cooler temperatures, it’s easy to forget that hydration is essential year-round.
The body needs sufficient water to maintain healthy blood pressure, flush out toxins from the liver and kidneys, regulate body temperature, and support mental cognition. When the motivation to drink water wanes, it may be time for some creative flavors and ideas to hydrate.
Infusing water with fruits, vegetables, and herbs is nothing new. Spas and hotels have offered guests cool glasses of water lightly flavored with cucumber, lemon, and oranges for years.
But water infusions are now even more exciting, with all sorts of combinations delivering deliciously drinkable water with no extra calories, sugar, or chemicals.
Some favorite flavor combinations include:
Crafting a water infusion is a simple process. Start by cleaning and slicing the desired fruits and vegetables. More fruit equals more flavor. However, infusing a 60-ounce pitcher with strawberry basil flavor requires only 6-8 hulled and quartered strawberries and a handful of crushed basil.
Fill a pitcher with ice and fruit, then add water and allow the ingredients to blend for at least an hour. For faster flavor, slightly crush the fruits, vegetables, and herbs and strain before drinking.
Herbal tea can fulfill the need to drink water and increase flavor without added sugar, calories, and caffeine. In addition, many herbal teas offer added benefits.
For example, chamomile, hibiscus, and cinnamon all promote healthy sleep. In addition, ginger and peppermint teas can calm digestive upset, and lemon balm tea can reduce cortisol levels without causing drowsiness.
While herbal teas offer a flavorful swap for water without caffeine, black and green tea contribute to water-drinking goals and provide essential polyphenols that protect the body from oxidative stress. In addition, black and green teas contain significantly less caffeine than coffee.
Bubbly water, such as seltzers and sparkling water, is just an effervescent way to drink water. Seltzers, mineral waters, and club sodas are healthy ways to hydrate, as long as they’re not loaded with sugar or sugar substitutes. Additionally, these bubbly alternatives have their benefits.
They serve as a great transition beverage for those struggling to kick a soda or diet soda habit. Sparkling waters can also create an immediate, short-term feeling of fullness and alleviate indigestion and constipation.
Infused ice can be just as enticing as infused waters. And popping a gourmet ice cube into the glass when it’s time for some motivation to drink water can be the perfect trick.
Try chopping some of the flavor mixes above, such as blueberry lavender or strawberry basil, into pieces that fit into an ice tray and top them off with water for an easily added infusion that fits into any busy week. Alternatively, fill ice trays with all-natural juices to add a flavor punch without added sugar.
Agua fresca offers both deep flavor and hydration. Popularized in Mexico and Central America, agua fresca is a refreshing blend of fruit and water. The drink is served strained or unstrained. However, keeping the pulp in the agua fresca retains the fruit’s nutritional value and fiber.
The best fruits for agua fresca have easily removable seeds. Popular options include:
To create a refreshing agua fresca, blend 1 cup of chopped fruit with 1 cup of water. Optional add-in ingredients include the juice of half a lime, a teaspoon of sugar, honey, or agave, and any desired herbs, such as mint. Well-ripened fruit won’t need added sugar, as it’s sweet enough.
Blend until smooth and serve over ice.
A report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies determined that women need approximately 91 ounces of total water daily while men need 125 ounces. However, that water requirement includes all hydrating foods and beverages.
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