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4 tasty ways to stay hydrated

Was your New Year’s resolution to drink more water? If the answer is yes, you may be hitting your wall. After all, water tends to taste like…well nothing. It’s just a wet liquid that you consume out of necessity. But, it has so many benefits that it’s hard to ignore. It helps with digestion, weight loss, and fatigue — not to mention its actually necessary for your body to function (we are made of 50-60 per cent water after all).

But, how do you get over that darn taste hurdle. How do you make water more bearable? The answer, my dear readers, is the following: infuse it! This is the best health trend of 2017, in my opinion.

Infusion is made of a combination of fruit, vegetables, and herbs in cold water. As the chosen water addition “brews”, it releases nutrients and flavours. There are special infuser water bottles that you can purchase, but it works just as well if you put the add-ons directly in the water.

Still confused? Here are four combinations for infused water that will help you keep your hydration goals:

Cucumbers and Mint: Yes, cucumbers are basically water with a crunch, but they have a distinct refreshing and hydrating taste —just ask all of the spas that include cucumber water as a treat in their lobby. Cucumber also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can help your digestion. Already feeling a bit bloated? Add some mint to your water. It adds a natural sweetness while easing and calming an upset stomach. Not to mention it will make you feel like you are drinking a mojito – minus the alcohol.

Berries and Fruit: There aren’t a lot of medicinal benefits to infusing your water with berries. Sure, there may be a few anti-oxidants released, but not enough to make a difference in your health. However, berries and fruit can add a natural sweetness to your water that you can’t get with vegetables. Fruits like pineapple or cantaloupe will make you feel like you are drinking water on the beach. Just make sure to take off the skins. Have your heart set on berries? Try a mixture of Strawberries and blackberries.

Lemon and Lime: Adding lemon or lime to your water creates a powerful detox effect. It also helps activate your metabolism in the morning if you drink it before breakfast. Try freezing slices of lemons and limes to use as ice cubes. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then put them in a freezer bag so you can quickly grab them for your water bottle. Just make sure to put a piece of parchment paper underneath so the citrus doesn’t absorb the metallic taste of the cookie sheet.

Herbs and Tea: Not interested in sweet-tasting water? Maybe it’s time to try something a little unconventional — the savoury water. Add a hint of rosemary, basil, or lemongrass into your water for a unique taste. These herbs don’t have a lot of nutritional value, but they can be a nice refreshing change from the citrus water you get at health stores. If you want to get really fancy, combine a herb with your lemon or fruit water. Rosemary goes well with lemon and basil adds another level of flavour when combined with berries.

Do you infuse your water? Tell us what you use in the comments below!

Do you have enough antioxidants in your diet?

by Dr. Suzanne Bober

The term ‘antioxidant’ seems to be everywhere these days, from the front of juice cartons to make-up containers. What is it about antioxidants that everyone is so excited about?

Essentially, as our bodies carry about their daily functions they produce massive amounts of debris called ‘free radicals.’ This debris is in the form of unstable molecules that can cause damage to the body’s cells. These molecules are produced during the breakdown of food, for example, and also from environmental exposure to things like radiation and cigarette smoke.

Antioxidants act by protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage, or what is also known as oxidative stress. This is the primary cause of degenerative diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Because antioxidants work in every cell, in every part of the body, they respond to just about all health issues.

Antioxidants play an important role in boosting immunity, such as warding off the flu and common cold. They also aid in improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation.

Marketing of skin creams and make-up today centers around antioxidants and their anti-aging effects.  Indeed, they do promote younger looking skin and are responsible for the youthful glow that seems to be sought after all over the world. Other benefits to women include relief from menstrual cramps, improved sleep quality, as well as improved energy. They also help to increase concentration and improve memory.

So how do I get antioxidants to start working for me?

I incorporate vitamins C and E into my diet by eating loads of berries and nuts, as well as avocados. I drink green tea, as it contains flavinoids and eat baked fish at least twice per week, as it contains selenium, both of which are antioxidants. I also make sure to eat fresh tomato sauce with whole-wheat pasta as it increases my carotenoid intake, another powerful antioxidant.

If I find that my diet is lacking antioxidants at any point in time, I will add supplements to my diet to make up for the deficiency. Speak to your health care provider about supplementation if you are unsure whether or not you are receiving adequate antioxidants through diet alone and start feeling the benefits of antioxidants today.

Prevent the winter blahs with raw foods

by Kait Fowlie

A raw diet can have transformation effects: weight loss, heightened senses, change in appetite, and glowing skin and hair, to name a few. While all this sounds desirable enough, raw food can be off putting. Many people assume its preparation is time consuming, complicated, and expensive. But even if you’re a grab-an-apple as you gracefully run out the door kind of snacker, you can still reap the benefits of many enzyme packed, cancer fighting foods. All you need is a passion for health and some ingenuity.

As a first-time raw food participant, I was skeptical. I have two jobs to focus on, a budget to stay on track with, and a social life I’d like to maintain. In other words, I can’t spend hours in my tiny kitchen concocting raw creations. Thus, I was happy to discover that embarking on a raw food cleanse would not compromise my schedule, my kitchen, or my wallet.

After a bit of research and a few trips to some different health food stores, I learned that eating raw is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Toronto has options aplenty. Our growing selection of city-made brands make raw snacking easy, delicious, and affordable. There are also numerous helpful resources for the bolder raw enthusiast who wants to try their hand at making their own raw goods. This is a task that varies in degrees of difficulty. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or salad, for example, doesn’t require advanced tools or a great deal of skill.

For this reason, I spend the first few days of my raw cleanse whipping up some dark leafy bowls with soaked nuts, legumes and unrefined oils. I supplement this with some snacks made by the pros (granola bars, crackers, and dips) from my neighbourhood health food store. Rich and sweet, each bite of these grab-and-go treats packs a flavour punch owing to a dried fruit and nut content.

After only three days of eating raw, I feel lighter, somehow brighter, and quicker on my feet.  Here’s why: raw food contains live enzymes which literally makes it digests itself inside the stomach, giving the body an extra opportunity to work on other processes like repairing cells, absorbing nutrients, and cleansing toxins. All of this is adds up to an immune system of steel.  In general, the less often your digestive tract has to slug through heavily processed foods and the more energy it gets to devote to immune building processes, the better.

Kudos to any daring soul willing to tackle a total raw cleanse, because by day five, my desire for anything with a doughy texture starts to outweigh my newfound physical appreciation. There are some pretty convincing bread substitutes as well as creamy, cashew based dips, but the texture of a baked good is tricky to replicate. I last a week of raw and pat myself on the back.

I really notice a difference in the way I feel when I start eating processed foods again – headachy and sluggish. Every small bite has an effect on the body’s pH level. Consuming raw food helps keep that pH level on the alkaline side of things, (as opposed to acidic, which is found in processed and fatty foods). These levels have an enormous impact on our health, ranging from the way our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning to our ability to fight off disease in the long term. All science aside, through the act of preparing food every day and being sure that my body is the only system processing it definitely made my week a little more mindful. To me, that deeper connection is the best part of eating raw.