The hydration hype: what works, and what doesn’t

Several “natural hydration solutions” have made a splash on the water market. Exotic sounding coconut water has been touted as “Mother Nature’s Sports drink”, Vitamin water promises to deliver the essential micronutrients missing from your diet, while Aloe water is the next natural elixir to all your body’s ailments 9 of skycastle. Many of these claims sound too good to be true… so are they?

Coconut water

The claim
Low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, more potassium than four bananas, and super hydrating. It also boasts zinc, selenium, iodine, sulphur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, ascorbic acid and B-group vitamins”

The truth
Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s centre that is tapped from young, green coconuts. It’s because of its promised electrolytes that sportsmen believe it to be the answer to their hydration woes.

The truth is that coconuts themselves are naturally cholesterol free, so being labelled as a “cholesterol free” product could be seen as some sneaky marketing lingo! The vitamins and minerals that also form part of the marketing are in very small quantities, probably unlikely to have any significant impact on overall health. Finally, there is no evidence that coconut water hydrates athletes any better than regular water… In fact, most studies have found that athletes were actually able to better tolerate plain ‘ole tap!

The verdict
There is no doubt that coconut water is a healthier alternative to sugary sports drinks. And if you like the taste, by all means indulge (although just because you can’t see the sugar in “water” doesn’t mean it isn’t there… keep things moderate!) There is no evidence, however, that it provides any hydration “edge” over regular H20.

 

Vitamin Water

The claim
A healthy alternative to sugary fizzy drinks, loaded with essential vitamins and electrolytes

The truth
Vitamins have been rippling the bottled water market for a while now. The products are certainly tasty, sure, but there is a good reason for that: sugar! Many of these drinks pack just as much of a sugar punch as the fizzy drinks they are competing with. As for the vitamin-claims, vitamin-fortified water is simply sugar water with synthetic (man-made) vitamins. To date, there is no evidence to show that synthetic vitamins can provide the same health benefits as the real deal (naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals) that you would get from food. What’s more, many vitamins (for example B and C) are water soluble, that means they are lost if mixed with, you guessed it… water! Most vitamins are quite sensitive to both heat and light too, and well, have you ever noticed a dark fridge?

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The verdict
Vitamin waters should never be used as a substitute for actual vitamins! You should get those from eating a balanced diet. If you do choose to drink Vitamin water, do so in moderation and keep a close eye on the recommended serving sizes on the bottle.

 

Aloe water

The claim
“Aloe water is both vitamin and mineral dense, offering benefits to the immune system, digestion, energy levels and the health of your skin”

The truth
The clear gel of the aloe vera plant has been used for years to help treat wounds, skin infections and burns. The clear liquid extracted from the same plant is known as aloe vera water or juice and is loaded with antioxidants, including vitamins B, C and E. Because of its high antioxidant load, aloe water has been recommended to help protect against free radical damage from environmental stresses including the sun and things like pollution and cigarette smoke.

The downside of aloe water, is that the pure untouched version of the liquid doesn’t really taste all that nice (it’s bitter). So, the nutritional breakdown for aloe water depends entirely on what is added to it to make it more enjoyable to sip on. Most versions of the drink add either honey, sugar or artificial sweeteners, each having their own set of health implications.

The verdict
Aloe has been used for various medicinal purposes for many years. Yet there is no solid scientific evidence to support its many health claims. Again, there might be more sugar added to it than its healthy name would have you believe. Proceed with caution!

 

The bottom line

Always take the time to read the label of your drink, and perhaps start to be a bit more sceptical with clever marketing language. That said, certain waters are almost always preferable to empty calorie options, such as fizzy drinks or alcohol. But when in doubt, you could always rely on Mother Nature to provide you with fresh water to hydrate you and real food with all the vitamins and minerals your body needs!