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Infused water has been trending a lot lately. Just by scrolling through Pinterest you’ll find hundreds of delicious and visually appealing infused water recipes in gorgeous mason jars. In this post, I talk about the health benefits of infused water, as well as some of the most common myths surrounding it, plus an easy and refreshing infused water recipe you can make in a snap.
As we all know, water is vital to our health (1). The human body is about 60% water. Water benefits almost all bodily functions, such as:
- Bringing nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the bloodstream
- Dissolving nutrients so that the body can absorb them
- Maintaining an adequate balance of fluids inside the body
- Keeping the joints lubricated
- Keeping skin healthy
- Regulating body temperature
- Helping the kidneys eliminate waste
- An integral part of the digestion process
- Helping prevent constipation
- … .. Among many other functions
But what about those who don’t like drinking plain water? As a Registered Dietitian, I often hear phrases like, “I know I have to drink more water but I don’t like how it tastes,” “I just forget to drink water,” or “I like soda more.”
For those who don’t drink enough water, one of the recommendations I like to offer is infused water. And with our need to reduce added sugar intake as much as possible, it makes sense to make water the beverage of choice more frequently.
Tip: Although the amount of water you need to drink daily varies according to individual factors, signs that you are well hydrated include low feelings of thirst and light colored urine.
What is infused water?
Infused water is simply water with fruits, vegetables and/or herbs to add flavor to it. Unlike juices and sugary drinks, they are naturally low in calories and sugar. This makes them perfect for improving your water intake. If flavoring the water helps you drink more of it, well, all the better for your health!
Myths and Associated Health Benefits of Infused Water
Today, many “benefits” are attributed to infused water, also known as “detox” and “alkaline” water. Some of the most common attributes are that it:
- “Detoxifies” (2)
- Aids in weight loss
- Balances the body’s pH, or alkalizes it
- Increases energy
In reality though, these properties are associated with drinking enough water per se, not because of the ingredients used in the infusion. The amount of nutrients in infused water is very small, compared to that obtained by eating the actual food.
Here, I’ll discuss some of the myths surrounding this topic, and explain what the real, evidenced based infused water benefits are.
Infused water and detoxing
The “detoxifying” effect attributed to infused water is due to the fact that drinking enough water helps prevent fluid retention. It also helps the kidneys in eliminating metabolic wastes more efficiently. This results in more urine output, therefore, less swelling and bloating.
Drinking enough water also helps prevent constipation, therefore supporting waste removal from the digestive process. As you can see, there is nothing magical about it. The body has the ability to eliminate toxic compounds very efficiently, at all times, without any special outside help. It just needs enough fluids to support these functions.
Infused water for weight loss
Frequently, these beverages are promoted as having almost miraculous, weight loss properties. How many recipes have you seen that tout the power of “lemon water for fat burning”? FYI, there’s no such thing as “fat burning” foods or drinks #sorry.
Having said that, drinking enough water (plain or infused) is associated with weight management (3) because:
- It helps regulate feelings of hunger. Also, some people confuse hunger with thirst sensations. Staying well hydrated helps to better tune in to hunger, and recognize when it’s actually due to thirst
- Water has no calories, so replacing sugary drinks with it reduces energy intake
- There is research that found that drinking enough water helps raise the metabolic rate (4) a bit.
Infused water and pH balance
Another so called benefit attributed to “detox” and “alkaline” infused water is that it balances and/or affects the body’s pH. This is a common, misinformed myth, since:
- There is no evidence that supports that an alkaline environment in the body helps prevent disease (5) (which debunks the lemon alkaline myth)
- It is not possible to change the body’s pH through food or drink
- The body is very protective of its pH level, and it does everything possible to keep it neutral
Infused water and increased energy
Those who state that drinking infused water has helped them feel more energetic do have some validity to these claims. But once again, it is due to the effect of being properly hydrated.
When we are not drinking enough fluids, we may feel tired, lethargic, and experience symptoms such as headache and poor concentration. This is due to the effects of mild dehydration, and we can solve it simply by drinking more water (once again, infused or plain).
How to make infused water
So, as you can see, the health benefits of infused water are mainly due to being a tastier alternative for those who don’t like to drink water. The real benefits are basically due to being well hydrated, which is vital for optimal health.
If you want to give infused water a try, preparing it is super simple. You don’t have to follow any exact recipe, and you can use the ingredients you like best. Below are some examples of ingredient combinations that you can try, but you feel free to create your own!
Once you have all the ingredients, it’s just a matter of mixing them with water and letting it stand for at least 1 hour. The longer it stands, the more the flavors develop. Just make sure not to leave the ingredients in the water for more than a day since they start to disintegrate.
This infusion water bottle is very useful, since it’s portable, it has a compartment to keep the ingredients in, and it even has some fun messages for drinking water motivation! Likewise, if you want to make larger quantities, this pitcher is not only for making infused water, but for making tea as well.
Fruit Infused Water Combinations
Making these refreshing fruit water recipes don’t require exact amounts of ingredients, and you can use the flavor combinations that you like the most. Here are some examples of fruit infused water ingredient combinations you can try, but feel free to create your own!
- Cucumber, strawberry, lemon
- Melon, cucumber, mint
- Raspberries, blueberries, lemon
- Kiwi and strawberries
- Cucumber, lemon, ginger
- Strawberry, lemon, basil
- Orange, grapefruit and mint
- Strawberry and thyme
- Apple, cranberries and cinnamon
- Dragon fruit and lemongrass
Cucumber Lemon Infused Water Recipe
Here’s an easy recipe for Cucumber and Lemon Infused Water. And although, as we’ve seen, the health benefits of infused water don’t include “burning off all your body fat” or “detoxing your system”, infused water will help keep you hydrated on hot summer days!
Cucumber and Lemon Infused Water
- ½ medium cucumber, sliced with peel on
- 1 medium lemon, sliced
- 64 oz water
- Add the ingredients to a 64 oz pitcher and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
- Remove the ingredients after a day has passed since they generally start to disintegrate.
Additional healthy drinks recipes
- Nutrient Packed Papaya Juice
- Cucumber and Pineapple Juice
- Blender Green Juice
- Passion Fruit Green Tea
- Green Goddess Juice
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…