Fruit and herb spa waterHere's how to create the ultimate spa water

In New York City, there is no shortage of spa options to enjoy a therapeutic massage. And after living here for 15 years, I’ve sampled my fair share of them. What I’ve found is that a no-frills spot typically rivals some of the fancier spas (often located in hotels) because therapists at the less fancy spas have built a loyal following and focus on retaining their best talent. But the one downside of skipping the fancier, pricier spa is the lack of “spa water."

What’s spa water? Well, the exact recipe depends on the spa. But it’s typically some fruit or herb-infused water that’s offered to you before or after a spa treatment to calm you further or enhance the health effects of what you just had done.

Google “spa water recipe,” and you find countless options for homemade infusions—but don't worry, you don't have to go through all of them. Here’s a quick guide to what you can add to your water to glean specific benefits. At the end of the day, the amount of fruits or herbs you consume in water is pretty minimal, so the primary benefit is tricking your body into drinking more water (especially in place of sugary juices and sodas).

Lemons, oranges, and…strawberries

Helps with: Immunity

Lemon water is the most common of all fruit-infused waters, and that’s because lemons contain vitamin C and other antioxidants (and probably because they’re inexpensive). Vitamin C is said to have immunity-boosting benefits, from fighting the common cold to reducing the risk of stroke; some studies have shown lemon water to reduce hunger, but that could be just because water fills you up. Lemons, part of the citrus family, have about as much vitamin C as oranges but not quite as much as strawberries. So if you’re really looking to boost your vitamin C intake, and have a little extra time in the kitchen, try a lemon-orange-strawberry blend.

Garden herbs like mint and basil

Helps with: Digestion

Just as lemons are always in stock, mint and basil plants are easy to find at the grocery store and super easy to grow. In fact, mint is so easy to grow that you shouldn’t plant it near other herbs or flowers at risk of the mint taking over. While mint is more commonly added to tea, you can put it in your water. Like many fruits, it’s rich in antioxidants (even if you’re only consuming a small amount), but it also could serve as a digestive aid. Some studies have shown that when food is consumed with peppermint, it’s easier to process. Basil is part of the mint family, and tulsi (known as holy basil and as opposed to sweet basil) has some interesting benefits. Beyond being rich in antioxidants, it may aid liver enzymes and reduce anxiety and depression. That makes basil-infused water pair great with a hangover. While mint works best with sweet fruits like strawberries, basil is great in water with cucumbers or melons.

Exotic fruits like guava and kiwis

Helps with: Nutrition

If you’re looking to maximize the vitamin C and other antioxidants in your fruit-infused water, two fruits really stand out: guavas and kiwis. Kiwis have almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange, and guavas have a staggering nearly five times as much vitamin C. Agua de guayaba (guava water) is incredibly popular in Mexico, where many swear it is the best thing to drink when you feel a cold coming on. The only downside of getting used to kiwis and guava in your water is the seasonal fruits are a little more tricky to find year-round.

Not only does infusing water with fruits and herbs provide your body with added vitamins, but it also tastes very refreshing. Try other fruits such as blueberries and raspberries, watermelon, peaches, and cantaloupe as well.

Khalid El Khatib is a Brooklyn-based writer and marketer who tweets too much.

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