Clear skin! Weight loss! Detox! You see lots of claims about the health benefits of drinking water infused with all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. But let's be honest. What are you really getting out of that admittedly gorgeous glass of infused water?
Get Wise About Water
Now, I'm a big fan of infused water. I usually have a pitcher of filtered water in my fridge filled with sliced lemon, cucumber, mint leaves, rosemary sprigs, and berries if they're in season. It's so tasty and refreshing that I'm motivated to sip it all day long. And I definitely feel better for it. But being the inquisitive person I am, I want to know if the infused water I'm drinking is truly the super-charged elixir so many say it is.
Is Infused Water Healthier Than Plain Water?
I've seen claims that up to 20 percent of the nutrients in the soaking ingredients will leach into your infused water. But even if that's true, it still doesn't add up to a nutritional powerhouse. And would that mean you have to infuse five cucumbers to get the nutritional equivalent of one cucumber? Why not just eat the cucumber?
Which brings me to the benefits of lemon water. It's one of the most popular infusions out there, and I love the taste of it hot or cold. But here's the thing: Simply adding sliced lemon to plain water certainly elevates the taste as the water takes on a subtle citrus flavor. And over time you might see a bit of pulp floating around in there, too. But the small amount of juice and pulp that mixes with the water gives it only a slight nutritional boost.
To significantly raise the amount of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other beneficial nutrients in your glass of lemon water, you should actually squeeze the juice of a lemon into it.
Here are a few benefits of drinking all that lemon juice:
- Great source of vitamins C and B, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber
- Helps relieve gas and bloating
- Can ease inflammation in your joints
- Protects against scurvy (just checking to see if you're paying attention)
Dilute it before you drink it, though, so your teeth don't suffer from the downside of drinking acidic liquid.
Bottom line: To get more of the nutritional benefit of the fruit in your infused water, you have to actually consume the fruit.
Too bad most fruit isn't all that palatable after being in water for hours on end. Instead of tossing it out, though, you could add it to a smoothie along with fresher fruits and vegetables.
The True Benefits of Drinking Infused Water
There's no question that drinking enough water is essential to maintaining a healthy body. Our bodies are about 60 percent water, and every drop of that fluid works hard to promote proper blood circulation, food digestion and elimination, temperature regulation, and the flow of nutrients.
If you don't drink enough water, dehydration kicks in and you start feeling tired, achy, crampy, and constipated. Your skin starts to show it, and it only gets worse from there.
So do what you need to do to drink enough water, and if drinking fruit-flavored infused water is going to help you get there, then that's what you should do.
- It tastes great so you drink more of it, and that boosts your hydration.
- Your properly hydrated body can more efficiently rid itself of waste through organs including your kidneys, liver, and skin. It's the natural "detox" our bodies do 24/7.
- If you're drinking delicious infused water, then you're not drinking sugary soda, and that's a healthy plus right there.
- Drinking more water helps you feel fuller and addresses the false hunger that dehydration can cause. Just that one healthier habit can lead to healthier body mass.
It all adds up to this simple truth: The real health benefit of drinking infused water is that you're drinking more water. And that's a huge win for you.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
That depends on a number of factors, including your activity level, where you live, and your overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, if your urine is clear or light yellow, you're probably doing fine. Believe it or not, it is possible to drink too much water. When you take in so much that your kidneys can't process the excess, you put yourself at risk for a dangerous condition called hyponatremia.
Recipes for Infused Water
Adding sliced cucumbers and lemons to your water is a good start; here are helpful tips and more flavor combo ideas for making infused water.