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Keeping the body hydrated is important, says Carole Baker, from The Self Centre in Bury St Edmunds, but be careful, some flavoured waters may not be quite what they seem

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Some facts about water!

* Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 30 per cent.

* Lack of water, the number one trigger of daytime fatigue

* Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80 per cent of sufferers (where does the body steal water from. . . your spinal discs and synovial fluid and your digestive system!)

* One of the main causes of constipation and digestive issues is lack of water

* Headaches are often caused by dehydration

* A mere 2 per cent drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page

* You may lose weight by drinking water when you initially feel hungry as often your body is thirsty and we mistake this for hunger pangs.

Profile portrait of sporty teen girl drinking clear water with closed eyes (13394532)
Profile portrait of sporty teen girl drinking clear water with closed eyes (13394532)

Your overall health will vastly improve if you consume two to three litres of fresh FILTERED water a day.

Water is the cool kid on the block these days; we can now buy it millions of different ways!

In one way I am glad if our increased consumption of bottled and canned water is decreasing our addiction to fizzy soft drinks, but I’m also concerned that many of the manufacturers of the new-fangled flavoured waters are actually the same companies that made the evil fizzy drinks in the first place and are just looking for other ways to make their millions.

There’s clearly quite a market for it. Figures from the consumer insights company Kantar World panel showed that last year, British supermarket shoppers bought 33.5 million more litres of flavoured water than the previous year – a rate of growth that outpaces that of plain water.

The growth is thought to reflect an increased awareness of health issues, especially concerns about sugar consumption, pushing people towards reduced-sugar or no-sugar flavoured waters as a healthier option to fizzy drinks.

You can get water with all types of ‘stuff’ in it today!

Nature identical flavours, natural flavours, sweeteners and the evil processed white sugar all play a big part in the cheaper end of the marketplace for flavoured waters. But the new kids on the block are ‘functional waters’ that contain vegetables, fruit, vitamins, minerals or even protein. And then there are the energy drinks. . . basically a combination of sugar, caffeine and other ingredients. For an interesting look at the common ingredients and what they do see caffeineinformer.com/energy-drink-ingredients.

And to me all of them seem very overpriced and the cheaper ones not really good for you at all.

What is the difference between natural nature identical and artificial flavourings?

While the chemicals used to make natural and artificial flavours are the same (they have to be otherwise the flavour would taste differently), their sources are not. Artificial flavours are made using synthetic chemicals, while natural flavours are made using chemicals that have to be sourced from the environment. Mmm, confusing!?

According to The Grocer magazine, drinks manufacturers facing a fizzy drinks backlash by sugar-savvy consumers have simply reinvented water by loading it with the white stuff. Coca Cola-owned brands, including Innocent and This Juicy Water, are leading the way.

But if you believe you are hydrating yourself the healthy way you should read the nutrition label carefully: some flavoured waters are loaded with more sugar than fizzy drink, and others are packed with artificial sweeteners.

I read research on artificial sweeteners over 25 years ago and made a pledge to myself then that I would not buy any products that contained them at all. Some drinks contain a miniscule amount of fruit juice – if any – despite bearing images of fruit.

“It’s a bit insincere to call any of these drinks flavoured water,” says Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director of Action on Sugar. “Water is the main ingredient in all soft drinks, from Cola to Ribena to Vitamin Water. This is just another way for drinks makers to take advantage of customers’ good intentions, and making a huge amount of money in the process.

“All of these so-called flavoured waters would get a red traffic light label on the packaging – more than 13.5g sugar per portion – and all contain over half of the World Health Organisation’s recommended sugar intake of about 25g per person per day.” She adds that a can of Rockstar Water or a bottle of This Juicy Water “far exceeded” the recommended allowance of sugar for a full day.

She urged parents not to give the drinks to young children. Rockstar’s Energy Water contains eight teaspoons of sugar per 355ml can and This Juicy Water (oranges and lemons) nine teaspoons in a 420ml bottle.

So what are the alternatives?

Well believe it or not, it really is very simple to make your own flavoured water at home!

Reasons to make your own:

* If like me you have been watching the War on Plastic BBC 1 documentary series and are determined to stop using single use plastic bottles and containers

* If you want a greater variety of flavours

* If you want some actual health benefits from the water

* If you want to save lots of money

How to make your own flavoured waters

You will need a large jug that will fit in your fridge – preferably one with a lid on so no other smells from food in the fridge will contaminate your lovely flavoured water.

A supply of ordinary tap water ( Note: I prefer to filter my tap water as I find there is too much chlorine in it and it affects the taste, plus in our rural area we are likely to have pesticide residues in the water – if you can get a jug filter or install an under-the-sink system even better, but failing that leave the water in the jug with the lid off on the worktop for an hour so the chlorine will evaporate).

A combination/selection of any of the following:

Sliced lemons, limes or oranges (peel off if not organic)

Any slices of fresh fruit try strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, apples

Slices of fresh ginger root

Slices of cucumber

Fresh herbs – mint, lemon balm, fennel, basil, coriander

Edible flowers – Elderflowers, borage, rose, lavender, violets, calendula, hibiscus (you can pick these and freeze them in ice cube trays with water to make floral ice cubes to add to your daily water bottle or glass or water)

Helpful hints:

1. Wash the produce well before flavouring water with it. To avoid chemicals, use organic produce.

2. A little tends to go a long way. Often, one thin slice of fruit will do. You can always add more if you want more flavour.

3. Squeezing lemon or lime into water without a sweetener creates bitter water. It’s the colourful rind or zest that contains that great citrus flavour, so be sure to include it.

4. Refrigerate your flavoured waters. Berries tend to turn more quickly in water than citrus. Use berry water within 24 hours. Other waters tend to last a couple days in the fridge. Until then, keep refilling the pitcher with water using the same produce.

5. Plastic water bottles may not hold up well to waters infused with acidic fruits, like lemons or limes. In these cases, I use a glass or metal bottle.

You will soon see the health benefits, your palate will change and you will start saving money and the planet!

The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.

Carole Baker is founder of The Self Centre, Bury St Edmunds