Win a water filter jug

Isn’t it funny how when you move to a new area you can always notice the difference in the taste of the water?

But it’s just water isn’t it? Well, we all know about the difference between hard water (great mineral taste but it furs up your kettle) and soft water (clean look and taste, saves money because the washing machine works better, but it’s difficult to rinse soap suds off)

Brita water filters are definitely on the soft water side – which means it will taste cleaner and produce a higher quality cup of tea or coffee. It’s even said that steaming food with purer water increases the food’s nutritional value.

If you’re interested in the benefits of a water filter I’ve got a Brita Marella water jug to give away. All you need to do is email me and I’ll enter you into a prize draw (make sure it has ‘Brita’ in the subject line). (The competition closes on Thursday 2nd June – UK based entrants only.)

Water drives away wrinkles

Wrinkles could be reduced by 24%

It was only a small study, but trying it out for yourself isn’t going to cost you anything.

A spring water company asked 53 men and women to drink 1.5 litres of water a day for 2 months. They asked half the volunteers to drink their water and half another premium brand. Camera analysis used at the start and at the end of the study showed that wrinkles had reduced on average by about 20% and in women aged 24-43 by 24%. Not a bad result.

It’s worth saying that the spring water company did fare slightly better overall, but no one really knows why the water had the impact it did.

We all know that water is good for the skin. Perhaps spring water, with its minerals and nutrients, is better still?

To try spring water bottled at the Brecon Beacons or at the Deveron valley in Aberdeenshire go to the Drinks section of GoodnessDirect. My personal favourite is One Water who give their profits to buy water pumps in Africa.

Water – how pure do you want to be?

Filtered water
Filtered water

If you’re one of those people who manages to drink 2 litres of water a day then I’m jealous.

My attempt to keep a bottle of water at my desk always fails a few days into the mission. Guilt feelings about how bad my liver’s going to be in old age don’t have much impact either. Buying bottled water would probably help but let’s face it, it’s bad for the environment and my friends just laugh at the poncyness of it all (yes, I’m male), plus they’ve got a point, tap water’s cheaper and may well be just as clean.

The one thing which does work is keeping a jug of tap water in the fridge. I like that cool clean feel to the water – it makes me feel (almost) pure.

However, if you live in an area where the water is hard (ie. very mineral tasting and it furs up your kettle) then you may not like the taste.

Devotees of tea and coffee will promise that purer water produces a higher quality beverage and I’ve heard that steaming food with pure water increases the nutritional value of the food further.

So it’s worth investing in a water filter if you are interested in enjoying a clean natural taste. I’ve been looking at some Brita water jugs which reduce limescale and chlorine and removes lead and copper from the water.

I won’t scare you with a list of the chemicals which you can find in tap water. The amount is too small to have any impact on your health, though scientists still query the long term effect on your body. In fact UK tap water is said to be among the cleanest in the world. But, if you’re pregnant or elderly, there are some reports about the possible detriment of drinking water straight from the tap, research has linked tap water to birth defects and alzheimers.

NB. Always make sure you have enough minerals in your diet (the main source is from food), they help decrease the chance of heart disease when you’re older – but don’t worry about me. I’m going to have enough trouble looking after my liver.

Don’t microwave water

Did you know that it can be dangerous to microwave water?

boiling water
boiling water

If you ever want to heat water on it’s own in the microwave you should put something else in the cup to diffuse the energy, like a wooden spoon or a tea bag (not metal).

It is fairly common, according to a doctor, for people to suffer minor burns from water that has ‘exploded’ on leaving the microwave after heating. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach the boiling point. They can actually get ‘superheated’ and not bubble at all. The superheated liquid will bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it. Superheating can occur in a microwave anytime water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new, or when heating a small amount of water (less than half a cup).

What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapour bubbles can form. If the cup is very new then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, but continues to heat up well past its boiling point. What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been shaken.

To prevent this from happening and causing injury, do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup. After heating, let the cup stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it or adding anything to it.

Summer Drinks

It’s summer, a time of days out, barbecues and picnics so don’t get caugt short on the drinks front – try our great suggestions for something different, says Lisa Burn.

It’s time to wake up and smell the smoothies… or juice, fruit tea, in fact, what whatever takes your fancy. Soft drinks have come a long way since the days of diluted orange and they’re not just for kids any more, with flavours and products designed to appeal to the most sophisticated palate.

You are cordially invited…

The perfect choice for any party, cordials make wonderful summer drinks when mixed with either sparkling or still water, just add ice cubes and a suitable garnish such as a slice of lemon or sprig of mint, depending on the flavour. Speaking of flavours, go for those brands that use natural ones, such as flowers, herbs, spices and real fruit as well as natural sweeteners such as apple juice, grape juice, sugar or honey rather than artificial additives. Cordials may contain what looks like a lot of sugar but remember they are made concentrated and designed to be drunk diluted. Because they’re concentrated they will keep for several months after opening if refrigerated.

Presses provide a refreshing alternative – they’re already mixed with sparkling mineral or spring water and again appeal to adult taste buds so are perfect for drivers or teetotallers at any gathering. Both cordials and presses come in myriad flavours (that also mix well with wine and spirits, by the way) including traditional elderflower, cranberry, ginger, strawberry, cherry and blueberry.

Tea time

There’s nothing like a good cup of tea, no matter what time of year it is. In summer however it feels appropriate to’ indulge in a few fruity alternatives to the usual cuppa. Whether you’re a strawberry lover, orange addict, or you’re mango mad, there’s a fruit and herb tea to suit you. They’re light, totally refreshing and they taste good, generally without the caffeine. They can also be therapeutic, so if you’ve over indulged at next door’s barbecue mint will settle your stomach and if you’re having trouble sleeping chamomile should sort you out.

Make your cup of fruit and herb tea with very hot but not boiling water, infuse the bag for several minutes before drinking, without milk and preferably without sugar. Or, let cool and mix with fruit juice for a long non-alcoholic drink with a difference. Go for natural flavours and ingredients (real pieces of dried fruit, herbs and spices) rather than artificial or nature-identical ones. Another contender for best cuppa is rooibos or redbush tea. This tea from South Africa is caffeine-free, low in tannins and is full of antioxidants. Best of all, it tastes great. Try it with or without milk or experiment with the different varieties available including Earl Grey, spiced and vanilla.

When talking of tea, let’s not forget that traditional American import, iced tea. Just prepare in the usual way (try it with antioxidant rich green tea or rooibos), cool, pour into a jug over ice cubes and enjoy in a tall glass garnished with mint or lemon.

Give me five

Cold from the fridge or over ice, fruit juice is another refreshing tipple for a hot day. Ideally, make it yourself with a juicer or citrus press and drink immediately to absorb maximum nutrients and health benefits but if you lack the necessary equipment (or lack the necessary inclination) then very good ready-made varieties are available – and they do count towards your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Try a savoury drink of tomato juice with a good dash of pepper sauce for a spicy kick or how about cranberry and apple juice for a sharp but sweet thirst quencher? Apple juice is a good mixer for many drinks as it blends well with other flavours – carrot is a prime example – while cranberries, full of antioxidants, may be important for the health of the urinary tract and tomatoes, which are full of the antioxidant lycopene, could help fight cancer.

Fruit juice delivers a more rapid sugar hit than the fruit itself does as you lose the natural fibre during juicing that ordinarily slows down absorption into the blood, so if you’re going to drink lots of fruit juice or you’re going to give it to children consider diluting it with mineral water (or risk the little darlings running round the ceiling all night).

Milk it

No longer just for kids, milk has grown up. We’re-not just talking milkshakes, delicious though they are, we’re talking smoothies – satisfying blends of fruit, yoghurt, milk, herbs, spices, seeds or nuts that taste sublime and are good for you into the bargain. Don’t like or can’t tolerate milk? No problem as they’re just as delicious made with rice, soya or nut milks as well as vegan yoghurt. They’re simple to make yourself with a blender but they’re also widely available in store and if you’re in a rush with no time to eat, are nutritious and substantial enough to keep you going until your next meal.

Water works

There really is nothing quite like it for taking away a thirst, yet in our fast food world it is not most people’s drink of choice. Water is the poor relation when it comes to drinks, which is astonishing when you consider that without it we would die. Its health benefits include increased vitality, better mood, luminous, plump skin and healthy hair. It can even help you lose weight because, as well as being calorie-free it reduces appetite – thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Next time you get the urge to reach for the biscuits drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes or so before deciding if you still feel hungry.

Summer makes it easier to hit the two-litres-a-day goal as heat makes you more thirsty and your body loses water through perspiration so always have a glass on hand to glug – you may find you drink much more without even realising.

Sparkling water is an alternative to still but if the thought of drinking H2O is just too unpalatable then try adding a squeeze of lemon juice or other fruit juice, or you could try one of the flavoured varieties now widely available. Cheers! ®

Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle July 2005 in connection with Natural Health Week