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What are the general benefits of drinking water?

Staying hydrated, especially in the warm summer months, is important — your body is 60% water. Water is important in your body in the following ways:

• Regulates body temperature through sweat.

• Facilitates blood flow.

• Lubricates and cushions joints.

• Moisturizes skin and mucous membranes (dry eyes and mouth can be uncomfortable).

• Transports nutrients and oxygen.

• Regulates digestion (and reduces constipation, which is more common as we age).

What are the benefits to adding fruits and vegetables?

Drinking water infused with fruits, veggies and herbs is a simple and healthy way to make ordinary water more appealing. While infused water does not typically contain enough nutrients to make a significant health contribution, these beverages encourage good fluid intake without adding extra sugar or artificial ingredients. Put simply, infused water tastes great, so we are more likely to drink it.

Does drinking infused water help you lose weight?

Drinking infused water will not help you lose weight. But choosing infused water instead of soda or alcoholic drinks may lower your overall caloric intake.

What’s so appealing about infused water?

Let’s admit it — drinking plain water is boring. Infusing ordinary water with fruit, vegetables or herbs makes us want to drink more. Something as simple as adding slices of cucumber, limes and a sprig of mint looks appealing and tastes refreshing.

What fruits, vegetables and herbs work best?

Fruits: Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, peaches, watermelon, kiwi, pomegranate, whole berries such as blueberries (give them a little squish first), raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries.

Vegetables: Cucumber.

Herbs: Mint, basil, chamomile, dill, spearmint, peppermint, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, lemongrass, lemon balm, rosemary, ginger, sage, lavender.

I recommend using fresh produce if you’re planning to let it steep overnight because frozen fruit can get soggy and doesn’t look as appealing. I recommend frozen fruit if you are making the infused water last minute.

Does it need to be refrigerated?

How long it lasts depends on what flavor combinations you used. For example, basil lasts several days, but rosemary may last a week. I recommend keeping it refrigerated in between uses. Toss when fruit starts to brown or looks unappealing.

Here are my favorite combinations:

• Lavender Lemon

• Blackberry Pomegranate

• Strawberry Basil Lemon

• Blackberry Orange Ginger

• Blueberry Rosemary

• Lemon Ginger

• Peach and Basil

• Cucumber Mint

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How can I make my own fruit-infused water?

There are many ways to make infused water. Here is one way:

Wash and cut fruit. Rub herbs between your fingers to encourage the flavor to pop out.

Add roughly 2 cups fruit/veggie + 1-2 tablespoons herbs to large pitcher, or consider investing in a glass pitcher with an infusing lid. Use smaller quantities of fruit and herbs if planning to serve in a single-serving mason jar.

• Pour water over fruit/veggies.

• Allow to “marinate” overnight or at minimum 2-3 hours.

• Serve water over ice. Add sprigs of herbs on top as garnish.

• Another fun variation — use sparkling mineral water instead of tap.

Another fun trick: Make infused water ice cubes!

Cut up herbs or fruit.

Add to standard ice cube trays and fill the trays halfway with water. Push herbs down with your finger, as they tend to float.

Allow 2-3 hours to freeze. Then take out ice cube tray and add more water until full.

Once these are frozen solid, you can either leave in the tray, or pop out and put in a Ziplock bag for fruit/herb ice cubes that can be added to liven up your water anytime.

Niki Strealy is a registered dietician nutritionist for Providence Sports Medicine.

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