Let’s be honest: most of us know how important it is to stay hydrated, but we struggle to chug water from morning till night. It may be the only fluid your body needs, but it’s not always the fluid your body wants.
Enter: plant waters and other botanical beverages. Delicately flavorful and often low in calories (though not, it’s important to note, calorie free), they’re viable sources of hydration—and their vitamin and mineral content gives them that little extra somethin’.
AKA … not maple syrup (no sir!).
Is actually … the pure, unprocessed sap that flows naturally out of maple trees each spring. (Maple syrup, on the other hand, is the boiled down version of maple water and much, much more sugary.)
Tastes … slightly sweet and has just a hint of maple flavor.
You’ll get … electrolytes—potassium, magnesium and sodium—that you need post-exercise, as well as a healthy dose of manganese (an essential trace mineral).
Is buzzy because … it contains abscisic acid. Although more research is needed, early studies suggest abscisic acid may increase the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.
AKA … Nature’s sports drink.
Is actually … the clear liquid inside young coconuts. This liquid solidifies into sweet white flesh as coconuts mature.
Tastes … pleasantly sweet and slightly nutty.
You’ll get … electrolytes—most prominently potassium, calcium and magnesium. Electrolytes are minerals essential for proper muscle function.
Is buzzy because … it’s an ideal drink after a light- to moderate-intensity workout. Electrolytes lost through sweat need to be replaced by consuming electrolyte-rich fluids.
AKA … aloe juice.
Is actually … derived from the clear, slightly sour pulp found inside leaves of the aloe vera plant.
Tastes … bitter and tangy. Some aloe water beverages are sweetened to make the taste more palatable, so watch the calorie count.
You’ll get … vitamins, minerals, amino acids, blood sugar-regulating glucomannans and cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. Just be mindful that you don’t overdo it: aloe can act as a natural laxative.
Is buzzy because … preliminary research indicates aloe vera pulp may help protect liver cells, stave off inflammation and aid in digestion.
AKA … the popular kid (it’s the fastest-growing functional beverage out there).
Is actually … fermented black or green tea (and sometimes other types of tea) with added sugar, yeast and specific strains of bacteria.
Tastes … like sparkling cider: slightly sweet, slightly sour and definitely fizzy. Different flavors abound: ginger is a go-to, but you can find kombucha perked up with everything from turmeric to lavender to guava.
You’ll get … amino acids and a variety of B vitamins, as well as probiotics (“good” bacteria that help with gut heath).
Is buzzy because … robust gut health is linked with improved immunity, reduced inflammation and good health overall. Plus, kombucha specifically may facilitate detoxification processes in liver cells.