Quenching more than thirst – making hydration more appealing

The simple act of hydrating doesn’t need to be dull, even health experts are now extolling the virtues of the many alcohol-free alternatives and functional soft drinks

Reading time 5 minutes

Hydration is not the sexiest of words, seldom is it used on influencers’ Instagram feeds when promoting trendy drinks served in eye catching glassware bedecked in glamourous garnishes. But it is a word that should be celebrated and promoted, considering it is the core function of most drinks. Yet, the humble glass of water will need a major makeover if it is to receive wider attention and deserved acclaim.  

The simple act of hydrating doesn’t need to be dull, even health experts are now extolling the virtues of the many alcohol-free alternatives and functional soft drinks, such as Purdey’s natural energy drinks, currently available to help encourage people to drink more. Of course, the failsafe and trusted options of plant-based juices, shots and milks, such those in Plenish’s range, offer visitors and patients alike a quick health-boosting option.  

Most people will, or should, understand the basics of hydration and why it is important to drink liquids throughout the day. “It is well known that drinking two litres of water a day helps to keep our mind and body healthy,” says Royal Society for Public Health director of policy and public affairs Dr Jyotsna Vohra. “Yet, many of us only drink when we start to feel thirsty, and the cognitive and physical effects of dehydration have already started to set in.”   

We’ve all seen pitchers and dispensers filled with mint and cucumber water dotted around wellness and leisure venues over the years, which encourage people to adopt the habit of drinking little and often throughout the day, adds Dr Vohra. In fact, providing free drinking water throughout a venue can have a big and positive impact on health, with visitors and patients more likely to stop and take a sip, she adds. But there is an argument that more could be done to encourage better hydration.  

Hydration is ‘vital’ for health 

“Keeping well hydrated is essential for good health,” explains British Dietetic Association spokesperson and registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine. “It makes up our blood, and it plays an important role in helping our vital organs, such as our heart and brain, to function optimally. It’s also key for a healthy digestive system and helps to regulate our body’s core temperature.”  

Over 70% of the human body is made up of water, further highlighting the need for people to top up on a regular basis, with a minimum of six to eight glasses each day depending on the person and their environment. Even caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and iced tea, contribute to hydration, adds Ludlam-Raine.  

Interesting bases for wholesome and hydrating drinks 

Kombucha – A fermented tea, kombucha is claimed to have probiotic benefits and can help to add sour notes to drinks  

Cold-pressed juice – Made by pressing rather than blitzing fruit and vegetables, cold-pressed juices offer raw flavours and are packed with the vitamins, antioxidants and minerals of their former hosts 

ShrubsOften used in cocktails to add a sweet-sour flavours, shrubs are made with small amounts of  sugar and vinegar as well as fruit and vegetable juices 

Iced teaTea is claimed to be full of antioxidants and other benefits, and can provide a good base to many thirst-quenching long drinks. Think about herbal and fruit teas, as well as green and other variants to add interest 

Seltzers and sparkling waters – The perfect way to add sophistication to a healthy, hydrating drink. Sparkling waters can be used to top off juices and teas or can be the star of the show themselves with the addition of natural fruit syrups and cordials 

Non-alcoholic spiritsusually associated with non-drinkers in pubs and bars, alcohol-free spirits are growing in popularity. Many are made with botanicals and fruits, the flavours from which are trapped within the liquid and can form the basis of a healthy and hydrating gin-less tonic, for example  

Stimulating the senses 

But these are the basics of hydration, and while experts can outline the minimum requirements, the real challenge lies in making the act a more attractive and enticing proposition for people – perhaps even an enjoyable one. “Non-alcoholic alternatives are becoming more popular and are widely available,” continues Ludlam-Raine.   

“They can be a great option, not just for those who choose not to drink alcohol or are pregnant, for example, but those who want to look after their health and also reduce their alcohol or added sugar intake,” she adds. 

Such alternatives, however, needn’t only be used in a pubs or bars and can quite easily move into healthcare settings to make hydrating less of a chore, more fun and familiar. Indeed, to kick the hydration mission up a step, outlets should take a small leaf from the on-trade’s book by serving drinks with impactful flavours, while also ensuring health and wellness remain at the core.  

“Using fruit and herbs that are fresh and in season is a great way to add a nutrient kick to a drink,” she says. “Mocktails are often associated with sugary juice and syrups, so using freshly squeezed juices and natural sweeteners, such as honey and monk fruit sweetener, provides vitamins and minerals to help increase the nutritional profile of the drink.” 
 Nat Battaglia of
Mindful Mocktail is an advocate of wholesome, health-imbued alcohol-free drinks and specialises in mocktails. She says the best thing outlets can do to promote hydration is to ensure drinks have a strong visual appeal with bright and vibrant colours, while also explaining the benefits of the ingredients used in each offering.  

Hammer home the health message

Perhaps the biggest hurdle in getting people to drink more is that sometimes thirst-quenchers aimed at adults don’t offer sophisticated and interesting flavour combinations. They can often, as Battaglia says, be sweet and full of sugar. However, adding a splash of something like apple cider vinegar provides acidity and balances flavours, while also giving the beverage a new note or tone.

The presentation of wellness-focused, hydrating drinks should, however, differ from the alcohol-free cocktails offered in on-trade outlets to ensure drinkers see their wholesome and beneficial qualities, and so as not to contradict with the health-focused environments they’re served in, she argues.

Bringing hydration to life 

While healthcare operators may not be able to create these types of serves in their outlets, the same effects can be achieved through supporting visual assets such as factual point-of-sale materials, bowls of fruits or vegetables, and vases of edible flowers and herbs next to drinks offers. It also creates a sensory and stimulating experience for patients and visitors, linking what they’re about to drink with the relevant ingredients in the product.   

Bars often use lots of ice in an interesting glassware to make a drink appear more attractive, Battaglia explains. Garnishes such as large wedges and slices of citrus fruits are also used to showcase a drink’s uplifting and energising qualities. While adding edible flowers and herbs such as mint and thyme, can also hammer home a drink’s natural, almost botanic, qualities, she explains.  

The key to driving more visitors and patients towards better hydration is by simply making drinks look more attractive, while also ensuring serves showcase their wholesome qualities, the experts agree. By taking a little inspiration from pubs, bars and restaurants, and adding a wellness spin, healthcare operators can not only provide visitors and patients with hydrating beverages, but exciting and attracting serves that can even include ingredients beneficial to health. And who knows, perhaps #hydration might well trend one of these days. 

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