What is the best option when we are thirsty and need to hydrate?
Texas summers are upon us and we all need to think about staying hydrated. Water is life. Not all water tastes the same and for a few folks, they just do not like the taste of water. A wonderful option is a fruit-infused flavored water. Very simple to make. Full of nutrients and your body will love you for giving nature and her natural benefits a try.
Let’s take a quick look at why staying hydrated is so important. Approximately 60% of the human body is comprised of water. Our bones, skin, brain, and internal organs all need water to function. When we are properly hydrated the benefits are amazing:
- Bones and joints are better cushioned improving mobility and decreasing pain
- Digestion improves by increasing nutrient absorption, aiding in weight loss, and boosting metabolism and energy.
- Our skin cells and our appearance rely on hydration to be plump and vibrant.
- If you want to be on top of your cognitive game, our brains need water to perform. Dehydration of the brain leads to poor memory, lack of focus, confusion, and fatigue.
When it comes to beverages, we have many to choose from today
There are so many options, why should we choose something simple like a glass of water? The facts and information are on the labels. If a beverage is provided by mother nature it most likely has benefit to the human body. Milk, juice, coffee, and tea all contain a certain amount of water and aid in hydration. What about those sweet soft drinks and sports drinks? How healthy are they really, and is there a better way to enjoy a naturally sweet and refreshing beverage while improving our energy levels and our elevating our mood!
Fruit and Herb-infused Water – vs – Diet Soft Drinks
Diet Soft Drinks and their Ingredients
Processed drinks contain substances that may taste good, but many of the ingredients that are in diet soft drinks have been found to damage the body. Substances like aspartame are found to alter our behavior as it affects the nervous system; specifically, it can weaken spatial orientation and increase irritability and depression. Other ingredients may lead to cancer risks and chronic inflammation.
Take a quick look at what you are drinking in a diet soda
Carbonated water – A refreshing beverage that is a good ALTERNATIVE to a sugary soft drink
Caramel color – linked to exposure to a chemical (4-MEI), which increases our risk of cancer. A 2015 study published in PLoS One found that the consumption of products, like diet soft drinks, led to 4-MEI exposure that exceeded the acceptable levels set by U.S. federal regulatory agencies.
Aspartame – An artificial sweetener that is about 180 times sweeter than table sugar. This substance has been linked to increased blood sugar levels, oxidative stress, and potential for the development of obesity and metabolic syndrome when exposed long-term.
Sucralose – Often the alternative to Aspartame, is an artificial sweetener that is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose) and is used in thousands of products today. A review published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found sucralose was able to elevate glucose and insulin levels in women who were at risk for weight gain and diabetes.
Potassium benzoate – Used as a preservative and serves as a substitute for sodium benzoate. Noted by Livestrong.com, this preservative could lead to low-grade inflammation chronic in people with obesity.
Fruit & Herb-Infused Water
First, let’s define infusion. An infusion occurs when we soak something, in this case – the fruit and herbs – into a liquid (the water) to extract the flavor and healing properties of the substance that we are soaking. So, when we soak fruit and herbs in water, some of the nutrients contained in the fruit and herbs pass into the water. Then, we consume the infused water and get more micronutrients and healthy substances from drinking!
Now let’s take a look at a couple of examples of fruit & herb-infused water, and the benefits of consuming them
Orange- Infused Water can come together quickly overnight, just slice one orange, squeeze each slice into a large pitcher and drop the slices in, fill with clean water and place the pitcher into the refrigerator.
- An Orange will provide nutrients like vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and improves immune function.
- As a citrus fruit, the orange provides many bioflavonoids, like hesperidin and hesperetin, shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage to our cells.
- In addition to these benefits, oranges provide us with micronutrients such as folate (B9), thiamine (B1), vitamin A, vitamin B5, and B6, and minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, among others.
- So, consuming orange-infused water can provide nutrients that will act as antioxidants, enhance our immune system, improve heart and skin health, and improve brain function.
Watermelon – Basil- Infused Water
Ready in an hour and provides great rehydration of your muscles after a sweaty workout or a morning of yard work. Fill a water bottle or a pitcher 1/2 way with ice, add crushed basil and a few small chunks of watermelon, top with ice, and pour in cool water to the top of the container. Let this sit a spell while you get busy with your morning routine. When you are good and thirsty, give your water bottle a shake or stir up the pitcher and enjoy. This refreshing drink will be the perfect beverage and might even become a summer favorite go-to!
- Watermelon provides micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and B vitamins like B1, B5, and B6.
- The antioxidant nutrients, like vitamin C, found in watermelon, can help reduce inflammation and protect our cells from oxidative damage.
- Minerals, like potassium and magnesium, can help regulate blood pressure and are associated with improved heart and kidney health.
- The phytonutrients in watermelon, like lycopene, can lower oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Further, lycopene has been found to protect against cancer and heart disease is effective against macular degradation and reduces diabetes as it improves fat and sugar metabolism.
- Basil is an herb of the mint family that contains many micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and phytochemicals like eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, luteolin, and linalool.
- Basil is effective as an antibacterial herb and has been found to possess the ability to inhibit the growth of E. coli strains. Basil’s phytochemicals have been found to induce the death (apoptosis) of harmful cells and stop cancerous tumors from spreading. Further, types of basil like holy basil (Tulsi), have been found to increase antioxidant activity, which helps the body adapt to stressors.
Choosing to drink for our health can be quick, easy, and taste great, like when we choose to create an infused water that will hydrate the body and supply nutrients and phytochemicals that our bodies need to be healthy. And, in creating our fruit & herb-infused water, we control what goes in and leave out the added fake sugar that most commercial brands include.
Choosing to drink diet soft drinks means that we will be consuming substances that can be harmful to the body, like artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
If you’ve never tried to create a fruit & herb-infused water, pick your favorite flavor and give it a try
you may find a new favorite hydration drink that does more than just fill you up!