I think all experts would agree that purified water is the proper foundation for adequate hydration, but it can be a little boring. I don’t know about you, but I have to be really parched before I find plain water to be satisfying. Having grown up on soft drinks, I like my beverages sweet and flavorful.
For me, soft drinks are off the table because of very legitimate health concerns. I haven’t had one in years, but giving up soft drinks has left a noticeable void. What to drink when I’m in the mood for something other than water?
Below are some tasty “water alternative” suggestions and the pros and cons of each!
Green or black tea
Both iced or hot, tea is a great way to stay hydrated. Being a true Southerner, I have always enjoyed sweet iced tea; now I mostly make my own and sweeten it with stevia.
I do try to be aware of drinking too much tea, however, as it is associated with a little known health hazard. Teas, both green and black, have high concentrations of chemical substances called tannins (think: leather tanning!).
Tannins are astringent; they pull moisture out of tissue and leave it dry and cracked. That’s what it does to your insides when you drink it too often. In Japan, stomach problems related to green tea consumption top the list of common health problems. If I drink it too much tea, I start having stomach discomfort.
So, periodically, I have to lay off tea and look for other alternatives to quench my thirst.
Coffee works for some people, and it’s a great pick-me-up. However, because of the potential for gastric irritation and the fact that it is often accompanied by large quantities of sugar and milk, coffee should be enjoyed in moderation.
There are lots of bottled alternatives to soda, mostly found at high-end groceries or health food stores. It seems that small-label bottled drinks are proliferating at about the same rate as craft beers.
Beware of drinks that are sweetened with organic cane sugar. Although a bit healthier than soft drinks, sugar is sugar—organic or not. You can find bottled drinks that are sweetened with stevia, but you may pay more for it. Many of these speciality bottled drinks will set you back three bucks a bottle!
If you find yourself drinking them regularly, you may want to consider making your own version. Lately I’ve been into creating my own alternatives. It’s a lot cheaper and you can control the amount of sweet.
Water with fruit chunks
One quick and easy option is flavoring your filtered water with different fruit chunks. Try sliced strawberries and blueberries, or lemon, lime, and orange wedges. Sweeten with stevia if you’d like, or mix things up by using sparkling water.
Home-brewed ginger tea
Of all the alternatives, ginger tea has become my absolute favorite. It tastes great and is very refreshing—it leaves a “good burn” going down. It also claims first place for most healthful beverage.
Ginger offers potent anti-inflammatory properties, especially for the stomach and intestinal tract. Ginger is excellent for nausea and also has antiviral and immune-enhancing properties; facts to consider the next time you come down with a cold or flu. You would be hard pressed to find something as healthful and refreshing at the same time. Get my foolproof Ginger Tea Recipe.