Birch trees certainly add dignity and beauty to a landscape, but here in the UK we have been slow to become enthusiastic about the health benefits they can offer.
“Birch water” is not a new health craze, it has been a popular herbal drink in Scandinavia, eastern Europe and Russia for years. But here in the UK, and in America and Australia, it has suddenly been “discovered” as the new super liquid that offers some amazing list of health benefits.
Birch trees grow right across the northern hemisphere, and this very special “water” is collected from both the lovely silver birch you see in so many of our gardens and from the North American species of sweet birch.
Birch water is actually the sap of the tree, which is collected by driving taps into the base of the trunk or by cutting off the end of one of the branches and attaching a bottle. The sap that drains out is then collected but it can be a long process to collect a full bottle. Also, there is only a short time of year when this can be done; this is in early spring when new sap is running up the inside of the trunk to provide all the nutrients needed for the coming spring growth. Sap collected at any other time of year is too difficult to “harvest” and can also be very bitter.
Birch water has a short shelf life but some companies are now beginning to pasteurise it so it can preserve its properties for a lot longer. And these properties are very extensive, if we listen to the various experts around the world who are now enthusing about birch water.
One supporter is Dr. Michelle Storfer, a qualified doctor from University College in London. She is a specialist on nutrition for health and well being, ( visit http://thefoodeffect.co.uk for information about her Food Effect programme). Dr Storfer has looked at birch water and suggests it offers some real health benefits. She said: ‘It’s high in macronutrients and micronutrients including proteins and amino acids, as well as enzymes, electrolytes and potassium. But unlike coconut water, it contains saponin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and may have some anti-inflammatory effects.’
Other sources claim that birch water helps to treat liver disease, diarrhea, constipation, flu, headaches and skin conditions like eczema plus help to flush out toxins and uric acid.
A birch water producer in Australia, where the popularity of this new health drink is growing fast, says the water contains naturally occurring antioxidants, electrolytes, trace minerals and vitamins, which can all benefit overall health. According to another Australia, Sanchia Parker, a dietitian with the Dietitians Association of Australia, birch water contains both B and C vitamins plus some minerals and amino acids.
The latest general food advice is a little of everything, and certainly if you have access to birch water, then it could be a small but interesting addition to your diet. Laterlife hasn’t tasted it yet, but reports are that it is a lovely refreshing drink that could make a good change from normal tap water.