Mari Tries | Plant Based Water
Remember when coconut water was the most exotic hydration option on the menu? These days, there are so many hydration choices on market shelves, it can be difficult to decide between them all: coconut water, birch water, maple water, chia water, cactus water, aloe water, and watermelon water, to name only a few. I’ve tried them all, but never saw them as anything beyond the latest fitness fad. This recently changed after I read an article describing the benefits of structured water, also known as gel water. It was time, I decided, to give plant-based waters another look as part of a new Always Uttori feature. So, welcome to Mari Tries: Plant-based water. I tried to incorporate the plant waters into a variety of popular drinks to test how tasty they were when mixed with other ingredients. At the end of the article, I will let you know my conclusion on plant waters, and whether they are a try, or deny.
Why, you may wonder, are all these water options supposedly better for you? As it turns out, water that comes from plants is more hydrating than regular ol’ H2O. Probably because plant water isn’t H20, it’s H3O2, the extra hydrogen and oxygen atom create a denser form of water that is often more like a gel than a liquid, though some gel waters may still appear liquid, a common trait is that most have a silky texture. Dr. Gerald Pollack, a professor of bio-engineering, has been researching gel waters. He found that water in human synovial fluid (fluid in the cavities of synovial joints, or to put it more simply, the fluid in joints like fingers, neck, and knees); the fluid in collagen, and the fluid in our cells all contain gel water. The real reason gel water is more hydrating than regular water is because it has an electrical charge, similar to other electrolyte containing foods like coconut, chocolate, and ghee, that boots the production of more gel water. The electrical charge also helps the body to run more smoothly. The gel like quality of the water helps it to retain moisture more easily. Think about it. If collagen, and cells, and the fluid between our joints is made up of gel water, then ingesting more gel water may help to replenish those systems, keeping our skin, hair, and joints looking and feeling healthy.
Research is still ongoing, but it’s important to note that while plant water is more hydrating, that doesn’t negate the need for regular water. What we do know is that eating plants like watermelon, cactus, cucumber, lettuce, etc, provides your body with as much water, and more hydration, than by drinking water alone. The fibers and other nutrients in plant water also have added health benefits.
To learn more, watch the Ted Talk given Gina Bria, the anthropologist bringing the importance of gel waters to public attention. Only 10 minutes, it’s a fascinating watch.
Gel Water Recipes
While the kinds of plant water you can buy at the store may, in the end, not be as hydrating as eating the actual plant it comes from, it’s still fun to give them a try. Here are three plant-based waters I tried, with added recipes to spice up your hydration.
I tried prickly pear cactus water by the brand True Nopal, which the app Fooducate rates as a B, or much better than average. The water tastes similar to Gatorade, minus the sugar. The ingredients in the water are prickly pear cactus concentrate, filtered water, and natural flavors (natural flavors defined). The added filtered water makes this drink more like a liquid, however, there is a distinct silky texture to the water. Because of the light, fruity taste, cactus water is pretty good to drink on its own, but is also nice mixed with sparkling water, or orange juice. Another great way to have your cactus water is to make a smoothie. The gel water contained in the strawberries and raspberries, added to the that of the cactus water, make this smoothie not only yummy, but also ultra-hydrating. Note: You can use frozen or fresh fruits.
Cactus Water Smoothie
¼ c raspberry
1 c strawberry
¾ c cactus water
Agave or sweetener to taste
In a blender add ingredients and blend. You may add sweetener to taste.
Aloe Vera Water
I opted for a flavored Aloe Vera drink from the brand Alo instead of just straight up Aloe Vera juice. The drink comes in a few different flavors, but for this article, I went with the original flavor, aloe and honey. This drink is more on the gel side and has actual chunks of aloe in it, making for a mixture of silky and chewy. The ingredients include water, aloe vera juice, aloe vera pulp, honey, citric acid, and ascorbic acid. I am a major believer in aloe for skin and hair, so I couldn’t wait to put it to the test as in a Brazilian-style limeade.
Brazilian Aloe Limeade
1/3 c sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of aloe juice
2 cups cold water
Pinch of salt
Mix lime juice, condensed milk, aloe juice, and water together in a pitcher. Add a pinch of salt for an electrolyte boost. Mix well. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Nothing is more refreshing than watermelon, but now you can buy that refreshing goodness in a bottle. I tried the brand Suja, which also used lemon and lime juice to help preserve the watermelon juice. The lemon and lime helped to cut back on the level of sweetness, and made for a refreshing drink. As for how to incorporate this into a fun beverage, why not try watermelon lemonade? Throw in some chia seeds for an extra boost of hydration.
Watermelon Chia Lemonade
3 TBSP chia seeds
2 cups water
2 c watermelon juice
2 cups water
1 ½ c lemon juice
2/3 c sugar
To prepare the chia seeds, mix three tablespoons into 2 cups of water. Let sit for 30 minutes. The seeds will release their gel and the water will become thick. In a pitcher, mix water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice, watermelon juice, and chia seeds. Stir to combine. Serve over ice.
Try or Deny?
Research on gel water is ongoing, still it can’t hurt to try some of these fun recipes when you’re in need of some extra hydration. Gel waters are definitely a step up from other hydration choices like Gatorade. So, I would give plant waters a worth a try, rating.