Water infused with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs can be a great way to encourage water consumption and stay cool in the summer. Summertime is a critical time to ensure you’re maintaining adequate water consumption. If you’re working outside a lot tending animals or working in the garden, the fluids you lose from perspiration have to be replenished continuously. The risk of heatstroke is great, especially for those of us who work outside. We need to drink plenty of water and eat small, light meals throughout the day to keep ourselves safe and healthy.
While I’ve always been a pretty good water drinker, I have a hard time staying hydrated. I’m currently breastfeeding and I sweat a lot when I’m outside. Summer is also peak allergy season, so I’m always on some kind of allergy medication. If I can manage a workout before the heat or rain chase me away, I lose even more water. I need to drink a lot of fluids to stay in peak hydration, but it’s not always easy. Plain water gets boring after a while and I crave something sweet. I try to avoid drinking a lot of juice because of the sugar content, but also because it can get expensive. Flavored waters are available at the grocery store, but they are also very expensive and I don’t really care for the taste. Fruit infused water is a great option for me because I can customize the flavors and switch them up based upon what is in season. By using seasonable produce, I greatly reduce my cost while also gaining maximum flavor. It’s also very refreshing to have a cold pitcher of water at the ready when I come in from my chores. The fact that it’s flavored is just a yummy bonus.
The flavors you choose are really only limited by your imagination. Mint is a very popular herb that goes well with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Having it in my water also makes that cool drink even more refreshing. I chose to combine it with watermelon because they go great together, and watermelon has a lot of natural sweetness that infuses really well with water. Both are in season right now, and I happen to have a lot of mint growing on my front porch. Some other ideas for infused water include berries, pineapple, cucumbers, lemons, limes, oranges and kiwi, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. A quick Google or Pinterest search can literally give you dozens of recipe ideas.
There are a lot of ways to make fruit infused water. A popular method I’ve seen includes combining fruit and water in Mason jars in the fridge. Personally, I prefer to use an infusion pitcher for my waters. First of all, it keeps chunks of fruit out of my drinking glass. Second of all, I can leave the fruit in the infusion core and keep refilling the pitcher as I empty it. You can replace the items in the core as needed or when they lose their flavor. Throw the spent produce in the compost bin, wash the container with a little soap and water, and you’re ready for another combination.
I use the acrylic Fruit Infusion Pitcher from Kitchen Frontier. It has a really classic look without having to worry about shattering a glass pitcher on the floor. And since it’s acrylic, I don’t have to worry about all of the chemicals in plastic. It can be prone to cracking though, so don’t run it through the dishwasher or actually try to test how shatterproof it really is. It will last many years if you take care of it. In fact, this pitcher replaces a couple of acrylic pitchers I received as wedding gifts 7 years ago. They needed replaced because one was left too close to a heat source and the other had been through the dishwasher a few too many times. The core on the Kitchen Frontier pitcher is a decent size so I can fit a lot of fruit for maximum flavor. Even if I’m not making infused water, it’s a great pitcher for juice or iced tea.
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How Much Water?
Any time someone talks about water consumption, the question inevitably turns to the amount of water an individual should consume. It’s a difficult question to answer because it really depends on the individual, their diet, activity level and overall health. The baseline answer is 2-3 liters of fluids per day for the average adult; however, that doesn’t take into account factors that could increase or decrease the total amount. When talking about total fluids consumed, it’s important to also account for the moisture in food. Foods high in moisture content like celery, watermelon or soup can decrease the total fluids needed. Some health conditions may also require an individual to decrease their fluid intake. Likewise, it’s important to account for anything that would cause your body to lose fluids that would need to be replenished, like perspiration, diuretics (like coffee), breastfeeding, and decongestants. Certain health conditions and medications also require increased water consumption to allow for the body to function properly. So how does someone determine if they are consuming enough water? By checking their output.
The easiest way to determine if you need to drink more fluids is by watching your urine. If you are drinking enough water, you should be peeing regularly and the color should clear to pale yellow. The darker your urine, the more water you need to consume. Below is probably my favorite color chart for determining proper hydration.
Of course just about any fluids could “technically” provide hydration. Sorry, that doesn’t include wine or beer. Even that iced coffee is borderline since coffee is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to flush out more water, which leads to more dehydration. Really, it comes down to calories. I’m sure most of you have heard the term “don’t drink your calories.” Calories are energy and connected to some macro-nutrient (fat, starch or sugar) that needs to be digested. When we drink beverages that contain calories, we are forcing the bodies to do more work and putting more strain on our organs. These extra calories also lead to more fat being stored, which also puts additional strain on the body. Water doesn’t strain the body. In fact, it aids in digestion, increases your metabolism and helps the body flush out toxins through the kidneys and liver. Plus, by not consuming those calories you would otherwise get from juice, milk or a sugar and fat loaded latte, you’re reducing your overall calorie consumption, which will ultimately result in more weight loss.
Here are just some of the benefits we get from proper hydration:
- Improves transmission of vitamins, minerals and oxygen in the body
- Lubricates joints and mucus membranes
- Cushions and protects vital organs
- Improves digestion
- Regulates body temperature
Proper hydration is vital for our overall health. Dehydration can literally kill us, but even before it gets to that extreme, we have to worry about heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is serious business and can be quite scary when it happens. Even if you’re drinking water all day, it can happen if you aren’t drinking enough. It requires medical intervention because it can go from serious to critical without warning.
According to The Mayo Clinic:
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.
Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
Be aware of the symptoms:
- High body temperature
- Altered mental state or behavior
- Alteration in sweating – you may stop sweating, or skin may feel moist
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing
- Racing heart rate
If you suspect someone is experiencing heatstroke, call 911, move them to shade or air conditioning, remove excess clothing, and do whatever you can to lower their body temperature.
Granted, heat stroke is an extreme, but it is important to understand the risks involved so we can recognize the signs and prevent a serious situation from arising. If you have a history of heatstroke, like I do, you can be more prone to heat related injuries, so it’s even more important to be on guard to prevent one from occurring.
Other signs to watch for:
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
If you couldn’t tell, water consumption is very important to me. As someone who has a history of heat related injuries, I work hard to make sure my family and I stay properly hydrated. Did I mention Farmboy also loves the fruit infused water? Being in Florida, the heat and humidity make it even more important to make sure we are drinking plenty of water. I feel better and my body performs better when I am well hydrated. No reason why I can’t enjoy that benefit while also rewarding myself with something sweet.