How to Make Healthy Flavored Water at Home

I know that you know that water is good for you. I also know that there\'s a good chance you don\'t like the taste or water, or you just get sick of drinking plain water every single day. So I\'ve got some tips that will keep you from dreading your water bottle.

But first, why do you even need all that water?

Your body needs water to function normally -- most of your tissues and organs are moist and you need water for a lot of biological processes to occur. And you lose water every time you exhale, urinate or sweat. Drinking plenty of water helps to replenish all that lost fluid.

If you don't drink enough water, you'll get dehydrated, which isn't good for you. The Institute of Medicine suggests that men should get about 125 ounces of water a day and women should get about 90 ounces. About 20 percent comes from food, but the rest comes from what you drink. 

Technically, your water doesn't need to be all plain water -- really any beverage you drink has some (or even a lot) of water. But, while some of those drinks are healthy -- like 100-percent fruit juices, low or nonfat milk, and soy, rice or almond milk, you don't need more than a cup or two each day, and drinking more than that can quickly lead to extra calories. 

Some of your beverages may not be so good for you -- sugary sodas, too much alcohol, or energy drinks with excessive amounts of caffeine.

What about caffeine? Is it really bad for me -- does it dehydrate?

It's not bad as long as you keep your caffeine intake within reason, and while the thought used to be that caffeine would dehydrate you because it's a diuretic (makes you pee), it turns out the amount of caffeine isn't enough to cause extra fluid loss.  

But, if you've already had a couple of cups of coffee or gulped those energy drinks, you probably don't want any more caffeine, especially if you plan on sleeping at night. 

All in all, water is the perfect source of water because it has no calories, and it's cheap, too. Usually, anyway.

Okay, so we're back to that boring taste.

No problem. First, there's a good chance you'll get used to the flavor of plain water if you keep drinking it every day. We humans are funny that way -- feed us the same thing over and over, and sooner or later we'll start to like it. But, if it seems like your appreciation for water is a long way off, there are some things you can do to improve the flavor:

  • Add sliced fruit to plain water
  • Drink sparkling water
  • Try water flavor enhancers
  • Make herbal tea

Fresh Fruity Flavor

You might be surprised at how much flavor one little wedge or lemon or lime adds to a glass of water -- in fact it's common for some restaurants to serve water with a slice of lemon. It's not really enough to add any extra nutritional value, but it doesn't add any extra sugar or un-natural things you might not want either. 

But why stop there? Almost any fruit can add a nice flavor to plain water. Sliced strawberries, grapes, melons, oranges, kiwi, cucumbers and grapefruit are good for starters.

Here's what you do:

  1. Grab a good sized pitcher -- half gallon or so is fine.
  2. Wash a whole lemon and slice it up. And maybe a lime too. And an orange.
  3. Put the fruit in the pitcher. Add the water.
  4. Keep the pitcher in the refrigerator -- in about an hour or so, the fruit will infuse the water with plenty of flavor. 

Play around with different combinations and amounts of fruit. You may want more of a subtle flavor with just a few pieces, or up to two or three cups of fruit. 

Another way to add flavor -- and aroma -- is to add a couple of sprigs of fresh herbs. Mint, Rosemary, basil and lavender all blend well with fruit flavors:

  • Melon and mint
  • Strawberries and basil
  • Mango and cilantro
  • Grapes and thyme
  • Blueberries and lavender

One note: drink your fruit infused water within a day or so or remove the fruit after a few hours or the water gets cloudy.

Sparkling Water

Another way to escape water malaise is to buy sparkling water -- look for mineral water or soda water. Some brands sell flavored sparkling water -- but look at the ingredients carefully because some brands call themselves 'flavored water,' but they're really just clear sugary soft drinks. 

Sometimes I'll make something I call "half-way juice soda" by combining fruit juice (grape is my favorite) with an equal amount of sparkling water. Cuts the calories in half and tastes better than sugary soft drinks.

Flavor Enhanced Water

There are a couple of choices here, but you have to be Nutrient-label savvy. You can buy bottles of 'vitamin' enhanced flavored water or little bottles of packets of flavorings that you dump into a bottle (or glass) of water.

Some of these bottled enhanced waters contain sugar, and some are sweetened with erythritol or stevia. They often have vitamins and minerals added to them, which doesn't hurt anything, but they're not necessary if you're eating a healthy diet. 

The flavor enhancing drops or powders are a little trickier. Some claim to give you energy (they have caffeine and a couple of B vitamins) and they're fine for what they are -- but if you don't want artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, you're going to have to read the labels carefully. There's a wide range ingredients used in these things. And be careful when you pour them -- too strong a squeeze and the result is kind of nasty.

Herbal Tea

If you think about it, herbal tea is basically flavored water, but good for you. Green tea is good too -- it has some caffeine, but not as much as you'd find in coffee. Try a blend of flavorful herbs or go with a classic like chamomile or mint.

See? It's easy to give your water a boost of flavor without ruining your waistline. Just one final tip -- choose filtered drinking water, buy a filtered pitcher or have a filtration system installed so your tap water will be clean and fresh tasting -- with or without the added flavors.

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