This week, the weather forecast for the Vancouver area is for hot and hotter, so I thought it would good to revisit a wonderful summer drink that I enjoy to help cool off, and replace fluids.
Most people know that when it’s hot out that they need to drink more but are concerned that caffeine-containing drinks such as iced coffee, tea, or matcha or various types of sodas such as cola which contain caffeine can cause dehydration. But is it true?
While caffeine is a mild diuretic (makes you urinate more), a 2014 study which compared the effect of drinking coffee with the effects of drinking the same amount of water (keeping other things constant) found no difference in hydration status between the two groups. In the study , fifty men who usually drank 3-6 cups of coffee per day were asked to drink 4 x 200 ml cups of coffee containing 4 mg/kg caffeine per day for 3 days, while having their total body water calculated. Then the men switched and drank 4 x 200 ml of water for 3 days, while having total body water calculated — and during both arms of the study, amounts of physical activity, food and other fluids were controlled for. The study found that there were no differences in several markers of hydration status between the groups — so no, caffeine won’t dehydrate you but for many, too much caffeine interferes with sleep, gives them headaches if they drink varying amounts on different days or causes them to feel agitated or nervous. As well, for those with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), caffeine can increase heartburn and other symptoms due to its effect on relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — resulting in the contents of the stomach more easily backing up into the lower esophagus, resulting in discomfort.
But what’s the alternative? Plain water? It is a choice, but some find it boring.
Others enjoy bottled club soda or make their own using a Sodastream, or they drink one of the brands of commercial unsweetened bubbly drinks that are available in various flavours — but some people can’t tolerate carbonated drinks, so what’s left?
How about Limonana?
Limonana is a drink that I only learned about a few years ago (and wrote about here) and that I enjoyed so much yesterday that I put up a new pitcher at lunch time, and have it chilling in the fridge for later. Since I wrote about it in 2016, I have lost more than 50 pounds and put my type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure into remission, so no longer make that sugary version that I wrote about previously. The recipe below is what I am making now.
“Limonana” is named for it’s two main ingredients, lemon and mint. In Arabic or Hebrew, “limon” means lemon, and “nana” means mint and this drink is lemonade with a twist. It is a wonderfully refreshing and cooling drink on the hottest of days, like today or this weekend.
I make Limonana using a sugar-free Monk Fruit and erythritol sweetener, so it is very low in carbohydrate and doesn’t spike insulin or blood glucose, and I use fresh mint that I grow on my counter — but any fresh mint will do. Dried mint is a very last resort.
There are two essentials (in addition to fresh mint) that are needed for Limonana, and the first is it must be made with fresh lemons and the pulp of the lemon (none of that bottled stuff!!). The second thing is it must be served over lots of ice cubes.
Here is the recipe for one liter (~a quart) of Limonana. Enjoy!
- 3 lemons
- 16–20 fresh mint leaves
- 4 Tbsps. Monk Fruit / erythritol sweetener (or to taste)
- 450 ml cold water
- a whole tray of ice cubes
- Sprig of mint to garnish (optional)
- Dissolve the Monk Fruit / erythritol sweetener in a bit of hot water and set aside.
- Using a knife, remove the peel from the lemon and be sure to cut off all the white pith as it is bitter. Separate the sections of lemon flesh from the membranes – like one does for orange suprí¨mes. Discard the membranes and any seeds, and put the flesh of the lemon into a blender.
- Add the mint and Monk Fruit / erythritol sweetener and pulse a few times until the mint leaves are well chopped. Add the ice cold water and pulse again to mix. Taste the Limonana and add more sweetener, if necessary.
- Allow to chill in the fridge for a bit, to let the flavour mature.
- When ready to serve, put plenty of ice cubes into a tall glass and pour the Limonana over them. Drink as is, or garnish with the mint sprig and serve.
To your good health!
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- Killer S.C, Blannin A.K., Jeukendrup A.E., No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population, PLOS One, January 4, 2014, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084154
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