Drink up, water haters

Skip the grocery store’s many flavored agua options and make your own!

Do you prefer flavored water to slake your thirst?

Many folks are repulsed by plain old water — your temple’s most important nutrient. Today, grocery store shelves moan and groan from the weight of a constellation of flavor-enhanced water and juices.

They might help us stay hydrated, but convenience has its cost.

Water is more than hydrogen and oxygen; it’s the source of all life. Without fresh, clean, hydrating water and nutritious fresh fruit, we’d perish.

Read labels. Avoid artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. We’re already exposed to numerous questionable chemicals every day. Why add more?

Many flavored waters are little more than tap water mixed with food dye and sugar. This is a problem, especially when people use large quantities to rehydrate after a hard workout or a scorching day.

Drinking two or more a day can add a bunch of sneaky sugar to your diet — not good if you want to lose weight, have diabetes or a high risk for diabetes.

Questionable ingredients 

Here’s what to look for — and avoid — when reading labels:

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame (also known as Splenda and Equal)
  • Artificial colors and dyes, which have been linked to ADHD, anxiety and migraines
  • Preservatives such as potassium sorbate, which has been shown to cause changes in human DNA
  • Sodium benzoate, which forms the carcinogen benzene when combined with citric acid (vitamin C)
  • Propylene glycol, which is an ingredient in anti-freeze and airplane deicers.
  • Also, keep in mind that most plastic bottles still contain BPA (bisphenol A), which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen.

Stir it up

Some folks are hesitant to prepare their own fresh, infused waters. But they’re easy, healthful and refreshing. Use any fresh fruit (except bananas), plus herbs for a refreshing beverage.

You’ll need:

1-quart jars

Water (ideally filtered)

A wooden spoon

Raw honey or powdered stevia, a natural sweetener made from stevia leaves (optional)

Choose a recipe or create your own combination. (For strawberry-lemon-basil water, you’ll need 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/2 lemon (sliced) and 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.)

Place the fruit, herbs and/or spices in the bottom of one of the glass jars, and then muddle with a wooden spoon, mashing the ingredients in the bottom of the jar to release their flavors.

Fill the jar with water and taste it. (Use seltzer water for a fizzy variation.) If you’d like something a bit sweeter, try adding some stevia or raw honey.

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate overnight for maximum flavor.

Get in touch with your taste buds — and what’s in season — and enjoy your own water treats!

Chef Wendell Fowler is a syndicated food columnist and the author of Eat Right Now: The End of Mindless Eating.