Scorching summers call for hydration. However, it is not just in the hot weather that our bodies and skin need hydration but also throughout the year including including dry winters.
Let’s start with the most basic and simple liquid that we require as part of our daily diet – water! No flavoured versions, but just plain water! Not only is it the best thirst quencher but is actually the best fluid to replenish lost water through perspiration. It has no calories, no sugars, and nothing that can harm our body! Still or sparkling water, both do the job well.
This seems to be an unlikely choice when the body calls for hydration. However, due to the presence of protein, some fat, and sugar lactose, the liquid stays in the stomach and digestive system for a longer time, thereby extending the hydration period. The presence of some sodium (salt) in milk also helps to retain the fluid to aid hydration.
The taste of plain water isn’t the best if you are looking for something more flavourful. Infuse water with lemon slices and some mint for flavour enhancement. This drink is refreshing, hydrates the body and adds to your daily vitamin C intake. Slices of cucumber and sprigs of sweet basil can be added to water as well, as all these ingredients have a cooling effect on the body and the digestive system. Water can be infused with pieces of fruit to enhance the flavour further, with citrus fruits being a great choice in addition to peaches, apples, plums, and pineapple. Just plain fresh mint leaves in water work gloriously too.
A mix of 1:1 greek yoghurt to water, with an additional pinch of cumin powder and rock salt, makes the most refreshing buttermilk drink. It can be consumed at room temperature or chilled for instant hydration. The flavour can be enhanced further by adding fresh mint and cilantro (coriander) leaves. The proportion of yoghurt to water can be altered depending upon individual tastes and preference. The idea is for it to be more watery than smoothie-like so that it’s lighter on the digestive system.
While tea is generally deemed to be dehydrating, Chinese herbal teas, fruit teas, and flower teas are lighter as they don’t contain caffeine, and these ‘teas’ work in a similar way as infused water and thereby are hydrating. Choose your favourite flower tea from rose, hibiscus, chrysanthemum, or chamomile to name a few. Dried fruits can be added easily to make a sweeter tea with peaches, plums, apples, citrus peels as a few of the options.
Fresh coconut water is one of nature’s best hydrating drinks due to its potassium content. Consumed at room temperature or chilled, it’s refreshing and energising thereby making it one of the best post-exercise drinks. And, of course, fresh coconut wins over its canned or bottled versions.
Apart from fruit-infused water, fruit juices are hydrating as well, especially when made from fresh fruits. Combined with certain vegetables, a fruit-veggie combo juice is refreshing and nutritious. Common vegetables used for juicing are cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, and beetroot. Some all-time favourite combinations are orange-carrot, pineapple-cucumber, and apple-carrot-beets. Any possible combination can be made and it all depends upon preferred flavours and a choice of dominant fruit flavour or vegetable flavour.
Chia seeds, known as a superfood are nutritionally beneficial, due to their antioxidants, minerals and fibre. Chia seeds swell up when soaked in water and are usually mixed into desserts or parfaits. However, just plain chia seeds soaked in a glass of water make a hydrating, and nutritious drink. Though the seeds add a crunch to the drink, they aren’t that flavourful and the addition of honey or bits of fruit will enhance the taste.
Aloe Vera juice
Regarded highly for its skin healing properties and for use externally, aloe vera is a superfood too. Either as a juice or small bits added to other drinks is a favoured option. Juicing aloe vera is a tedious affair so the latter option is certainly easier. However, do note that the quality of fresh aloe vera used should be top-notch and preferably organic.
Plenty of off-the-shelf rehydration drinks are available and whilst easy to procure, may not be the most nutritious. The main contents of these drinks are citrus flavourings, salt (sodium), sugar (usually artificial) and water, as these ingredients work best for hydration. The better equivalent is homemade lemonade comprising freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey, water and a pinch of salt.
Though options abound for hydrating drinks water always wins, be it regular, ionised, mineral, sparkling or still!