Flourish with Food: The Med Approach to Water & Wine

The last 3 months of Flourish with Food focused on the Mediterranean Diet (Med approach). Again, it’s important to remember…. it’s an overall healthy way of eating inspired by the traditional foods of people living in the Mediterranean region.   

Just a reminder that the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid depicting the region’s foods and how often they’re eaten is available at Oldways. Guidance on two fluids is included, although outside the pyramid structure:  Drink water. Wine, In moderation. 

Water is an essential nutrient! Thirst and the kidneys generally balance water input and output.  However, rule-of-thumb guidance states that once thirsty, one is mildly dehydrated.  Significantly, the thirst sensation is decreased in older adults. It’s been estimated that 20-30% of older adults are chronically mildly dehydrated.  Dehydration can be serious and send one to the hospital.

How much water should one drink?  A simple question without a simple answer.  There are two often cited goals: (1) 8 glasses (64 oz) and (2) number of ounces equal to ½ body weight. Easy and reasonable goals.  However, many factors influence water needs: environment (hot, dry, altitude), air temperature, physical activity, illness, medications and age-related health conditions.  So, best advice is to sip, sip, sip throughout the day even if not thirsty.

Beyond counting plain water, consider water from: coffee, tea, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, dairy and non-dairy milks and soft drinks. While caffeinated drinks have a mild diuretic effect, the effect is weak. Be sure to minimize or skip the added sugar calories by choosing sugar-free beverages most often. Alcohol is not included when tracking water intake.

Let’s face it, plain water may get boring.  

Ideas for homemade flavored water (keep Mother Earth happy):

  • Add: slices of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber or ginger; crushed fresh mint
  • Splash (large): 100% juice, such as orange, tart cherry, pomegranate, grape
  • Mix: green or black tea bags with orange spice or lemon-flavored tea bags when brewing.  Add tea bags to a pitcher of water and brew in the refrigerator overnight.

Options for canned and bottled flavored waters (recycle responsibly):

  • Calorie-free sparkling waters, such as LaCroix, Bubly, Waterloo and Polar
  • Minimal calories sparkling waters, such as Spindrift flavored with fruit juice
  • Sparkling natural mineral waters, such as Perrier and Topo Chico
  • Cold brewed, calorie-free flavored coffees, such as Chameleon 

All foods naturally contribute to water intake, but in widely varying amounts. Fruits and vegetables are especially hydrating, especially watermelon (92% water), cucumber (96%), lettuce (95%), tomatoes (94%), strawberries (91%), peaches (90%), cantaloupe (90%) and oranges (86%). An edible way to sip water in-between meals!

Wine, in moderation.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 do not recommend starting to drink alcohol for any health reason.  However, if wine is enjoyed and consumed, moderation is the key word.  The Mediterranean way of drinking:

  • 5-ounce portion (often less than a restaurant serving)
  • 1 drink for women, up to 2 drinks for men
  • mainly with food

Red or white wine?  The Mediterranean diet pyramid shows a glass of red wine.  However, white is not excluded.  Red wines have an advantage in their higher polyphenols (antioxidants) content, notably resveratrol, found in the red grape’s skin that transfers to the wine.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad (6 servings)

8 cups cubed ripe seedless watermelon

1 cup sliced mini or English cucumber

2 ounces feta cheese crumbles (~1/2 cup)

Zest of ½ lemon

4 basil leaves

Sea salt, for garnish (optional)

  • Chop watermelon in cubes. Slice cucumbers (if using English cucumber, slice it into half-moons).  Chop the basil.  Zest the lemon.
  • Arrange watermelon and cucumber on a platter.  Sprinkle with Feta, lemon zest and optional sea salt. Serve immediately.
  • If making ahead, refrigerate watermelon separately; it releases a lot of water after it is cut.  Then assemble salad directly before serving.

Source: www.acouplecooks.com