There’s no shortage of choices when it comes to flavored and infused water.
In addition to the bounty of fruit and herbal flavors, there are mood-boosting waters, alkaline waters, detox waters and antioxidant waters — all available at a price considerably higher than regular tap water.
But some of the wild claims about the health benefits of flavored or infused water are all wet.
“Science does not support these claims,” registered dietitian Beth Czerwony of the Cleveland Clinic previously declared about the current alkaline water craze.
And while dehydration is a real concern for some people, buying expensive fruit-flavored water isn’t necessarily the answer.
Here’s how the various options actually stack up.
Detox water, which usually contains an infusion of lemon or another acidic fruit, can be flavored with any number of herbs or other botanicals.
It typically contains few or no calories and is sometimes used during a short-term “detox diet” or a “master cleanse” diet.
Popular flavoring options for detox water include cucumber and mint, lemon and ginger, strawberry and basil, or apple and cinnamon, to name just a few.
There are countless claims about the benefits of detox water, such as weight loss, improved immune functioning and the removal of toxins from the body.
But the health claims for detox water can often be attributed to the water itself, rather than the added flavoring ingredients, because you won’t get many nutrients from the additives, especially compared to eating them whole.
For example, drinking more water — plain or flavored — can help with digestion, especially for people who are constipated due to dehydration.
And “detox” is a vague, non-scientific term that could mean anything — including ordinary kidney functioning — and there’s no real evidence that any detox water can actually remove toxins from your body.
Alkaline water, with a pH level from 7.1 to 14.0, is part of a popular eating trend known generally as the alkaline diet.
The idea behind the alkaline diet is based on replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods to improve your health.
Some proponents of the diet claim it can help fight diseases like osteoporosis and even cancer.
The fact is, though, that different parts of your body have very different pH levels, from acidic (pH from 0.0 to 6.9) to alkaline. The acids in your stomach — essential for the digestion of food — are very different from the compounds in your blood, which are slightly alkaline.
However, medical researchers haven’t found any evidence that a more alkaline diet is beneficial for the vast majority of people — and alkaline water may be just another pricey fad.
“This is a case where a company wants to sell a product, takes regular water and walks it through the process of ionization, maybe slaps a ‘natural’ label on it, charges a high price and, ultimately, takes advantage of the fact people want to believe it’s worth more than what it is,” said Czerwony.
Drink more water
While the outlook on fashionable water is decidedly mixed, one fact is irrefutable: Water is good for your health.
Most medical experts agree that if fruit flavorings, botanical infusions or other additives encourage people to drink more water, then that’s a good thing.
It’s especially true if the alternative is drinking calorie-laden sugary sodas, caffeinated drinks like coffee or energy drinks with lots of synthetic ingredients like artificial sweeteners.
Tips for making plain water more appealing include:
- Slice cucumbers or zucchini into your water
- Experiment with adding herbs like mint, basil, ginger, rosemary or cilantro
- Infuse water with berries, pineapple or melon
- Freeze small pieces of fruit in an ice cube tray
- Add lemon, lime or orange slices
- Invest in a soda machine for water with a thirst-quenching fizz