Monday, April 19, 2010

Punch up Your Water

The advice to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day can be intimidating, especially if you think water is boring.

Bottled drinks or sodas are more expensive than plain tap water and can add unwanted calories. Here are some natural ways to "dress up" water so that staying hydrated is tasty and nutritious.

Make an herbal infusion. Put ¼ to ½ cup of your favorite dried herb in a jar with four cups of cold water and let it sit overnight. The long steeping time will pull plenty of flavor from the herbs, and using cold water instead of hot ensures that the minerals released by the herbs are available for absorption. Try anise hyssop, rooibos, or lemon balm, in addition to the usual suspects like mint or chamomile. Alternatively, make a quick infusion by lightly crushing a large handful of fresh mint or parsley between your hands and adding the herbs to a pitcher of water.

Add a piece of fruit. A slice of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit in water adds tanginess and a dose of vitamin C. Cucumber slices are a particularly refreshing addition to water, and lightly crushed berries add color and sweetness as well as antioxidants.

Spice it up with ginger. Using a fine plane grater, grate fresh ginger root into a jar or pitcher and add water. Ginger is a carminative, meaning that it can help settle a gassy stomach. Boiling sliced fresh ginger in hot water makes a tea that is soothing for sore throats.

Mix and match these ideas to come up with a flavor combination that will keep you thirsting for your water bottle all day long.

- Carol White, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University

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