You can double the power of hydration by infusing your water with fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do they provide more flavor, they can also help alleviate day-to-day health issues.
Here are six ways to boost your water:
1. THE ADD: MELONS
The Benefit: Electrolytes
“When you sweat out electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, you have to replace them,” says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an associate clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, New York. Luckily, “most high-water fruits and vegetables are loaded with potassium.”
Ayoob recommends any type of melon to replenish your body after a workout. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are packed with potassium and some magnesium. After finishing your drink, take the leftover melons and sprinkle a little salt on them before eating. This helps retain their water content (melons are 90% water), and “even intensify the taste,” he says.
In addition to melons, “cucumbers help by giving you lots of potassium and a little magnesium, too,” says Ayoob. Or, add celery to your water. It’s one of the few veggies with potassium and sodium — and it will not change the flavor too much, if you are craving plain water.
2. THE ADD: BERRIES
The Benefit: Fiber
Infusing your water with berries adds natural fiber that can help keep you regular, and clean out bacteria and other intestinal buildup — and as an added benefit, it may lower your risk for colon cancer. “I love adding blackberries and strawberries to water for a sweeter take and a fiber-filled treat once I finish my glass,” says Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, and creator of CitNutrionally.com, a healthy living blog. For a unique twist, Amer recommends adding kiwi to water for a dose of fiber.
Be sure to drink this infused water after you run, not during, to keep gastrointestinal issues at bay during your workout.
3. THE ADD: APPLES
The Benefit: Energy
For muscles to work effectively, you need iron, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen. An hour of working out can deplete 5.7% of your iron levels. Losing too much of the mineral can cause iron-deficiency anemia, which kills your energy levels. To combat this, add sliced apples to your water. Apples are packed with iron, and are available in many varieties, each with a distinct flavor profile.
4. THE ADD: LEMON
The Benefit: Healthy Immune System
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, encourages her clients to add lemon or lime to water. “The little boost of vitamin C is great to support healthy immune system function,” she says. Plus it’s a gentle diuretic that eases bloating and adds a pleasant flavor.
5. THE ADD: WATERMELON & MINT
The Benefit: Reduced Soreness
After a tough weightlifting session or long ride, add watermelon and fresh mint leaves to your water bottle. “Watermelon is rich in citrulline, an amino acid that research has shown helps to reduce muscle soreness in athletes after intense workouts,” says sports dietitian Angie Asche, MS, RD, and owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition. She adds that the potent antioxidants and nutrient content of watermelon, along with the cooling and soothing effects of the fresh mint, which actually aids digestion, makes for a refreshing drink.
6. THE ADD: ORANGE JUICE
The Benefit: Race-Day Performance
Shari Portnoy, MPH, RD, offers this little gem: Add orange juice to water in equal parts, and use it for fuel when running. “We need glucose (aka sugar) to keep going. So, add orange juice to your water bottle and you won’t need goo or any other fake drinks,” she says. In addition, orange juice can provide vitamin D to help with muscle weakness and pain, a vitamin research suggests athletes lack.