Friday, 5 July 2013

Take me to the water

I've had a few 'health journeys' in my time, either by choice (like a fitness or weight loss programme) or by necessity (like an illness which involves regular trips to the doctor) and one question I'm often asked is 'are you drinking enough fluids'. Its a fair enough question, bodies perform better when they are fully hydrated and drinking more is an easy lifestyle change to make. If you are in the UK the NHS recommends you drink about six 200ml glasses a day.

As it happens I do drink plenty, it's only 10am and I estimate that I'm already well into my second litre. I like to drink, it helps my brain work and if I'm honest I also use it as a way to suppress any hunger pangs. (Did I mention that in the last year I've lost over 2 stone?) Do you know that many people can't actually tell the difference between feeling hungry and feeling dehydrated and that that skill will diminish with age, the elderly are at particular risk of dehydration.

Unfortunately many of the drinks we like to have are not actually hydrating, tea and coffee for example, alcohol will also drive water out of your system. Pure fruit juices are also so stack full of sugar that they wont help hydrate you either, unless you add extra water. I also try to avoid squash for similar reasons and I don't think the 'no added sugar' squashes are a great alternative either as the artificial sweetener can leave you feeling hungry (think about it, how many skinny people do you actually see drinking diet soda?) And so called 'flavoured water' you can buy in the shops is usually just colourless diet squash with added sweetener.

Re-hydrating isotonic drinks are fab (provided they don't have sweetener) but they can be VERY expensive, over-the-counter oral re-hydration sachets to add to water are not much cheaper.  No, there really is no better drink than water. But even I'm prepared to admit that it can be a little dull at times so here I'm going to share my favourite water 'recipes'. Things that can give the water just enough flavour to make it different and interesting.

  • Sliced fruit - be it citrus like lemons or sweet like sliced strawberries just a touch of sliced fruit mixed in with the ice can make the water seem even more refreshing. Also cucumber works really nicely.
  • Herbs - many herbs are great in water. I often use rosemary (which by the way is BRILLIANT with a slice of watermelon, so refreshing) but I also like all sorts of mint, thyme and sage (which is great with some blackcurrants) . The list goes on. Give your herb some gentle scrunching to release the flavour and float on the water.
  • Flowers - my girls love a flower or two floating in with the ice and water. Rose petals, elderflower, nasturtiums, marigolds. Any edible flower looks great and if it's scented like roses a little sparkling water added to the mix will help bring that out.
  • Herbal and fruit teas - I'll often make a peppermint or chamomile tea and drink it hot or let it cool and add ice. Go for quality bags or loose tea with no added 'black tea' and no artificial sweetener. My all time favourite tea is a few thin slices of ginger with a dash of lemon juice.
  • A dash of.. - lemon juice, lime juice, vanilla, cider vinegar or Angostura bitters all work well when added to water.
  • Home made oral re-hydration therapy - to one litre of fresh clean water add half a level teaspoon (3 grams) of salt and 3 level tablespoons of sugar (18 grams). 

If you want to look really classy any of the above frozen into ice cubs will look great but of course until the ice melts you will have less flavour.

As I type now I am looking forward to a blistering hot weekend, the weather man just told me that the last time it was this good was the first week in July 2006 - I remember it well, it was the week my first daughter was born (and no it wasn't a water birth). 
Have a great weekend! xx