Reviewed by Dr. Michael Kessler, DC — Infused water is the latest edition in the “how to make water healthier” craze. First there was plain old bottled water, then there was vitamin water—which may do more harm than good because it is often loaded with sugar. Now we have “infused” water, which promises an array of “detox effects.” But is this just another failed attempt to improve on something that is already perfect (provided it’s clean)?
What Is Infused Water (Detox Water)?
Infused water goes by a few names. It’s also known as “detox water” or “fruit-infused water,” and it’s essentially naturally-flavored water.
The infusion comes from soaking various fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the water to add a little bit of taste, which is basically where any added benefits end. Putting a lemon slice or strawberry or blueberry in your water doesn’t provide any extra health benefits, or undertake a “detox.”
On the other hand, infused water is not bad for you.
Water, in fact, is one of the healthiest substances on the planet and is absolutely necessary for human health and survival. Because infusing water with fruit, vegetable, or herb flavors does not add any calories, it does not detract from water’s inherent value. Moreover, for some, the taste may add incentive to drink greater amounts, more frequently.
But be aware that any benefit of infused water does not come from the infusion—the water is the only ingredient that has the potential to improve your health.
You can make the so-called detox water very easily at home, so there is no need to waste money on pre-bottled mixtures sold in stores. Simply slice up the flavors you want—mint, strawberry, kiwi, lemon, etc.—and add them to your water.
Purported Health Benefits of Infused Water
There are a number of health claims surrounding infused water, and they are partly true. This is because water, and adequate hydration, provides a host of benefits.
But any claims that infused water has unique detoxifying effects, offers immune support, aids weight loss, balances pH, etc. are completely unsubstantiated.
Nutrients found in the infusing plant, such as vitamin C, antimicrobial agents, or antioxidants, are unlikely to leach into the water. Any amounts that do seep into the water would not be large enough to influence your health. In essence, the nutrients would be far too watered down. If you want more vitamin C, you would do better to have a glass of plain water with a bowl of strawberries.
Yet some of the health claims surrounding infused water you’re likely to encounter include:
- Weight loss
- Detox/toxin removal
- Better digestion
- Stronger immune system
- pH balance
- Better mood, energy
- Improved skin
It’s important to note that there’s no scientific evidence to suggest a person’s pH balance can be significantly altered by their food or water intake.
Actual Infused Water Benefits
As mentioned, water does a lot for your health, and can even make good on some of the overstated claims made by infused water advocates. Let’s examine each potential benefit in detail:
There is no substance in plain water or infused water that inherently leads to fat loss; however, water intake can influence one’s weight.
When you’re adequately hydrated, your body gets rid of excess water, ridding you of “water weight.” For some people, drinking more water can lead to noticeable, almost instantaneous weight loss.
Also, because water—and infused water—is calorie-free, it can encourage weight loss if consumed in place of sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice.
Further, thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so if you’re drinking enough water (roughly eight to nine glasses per day), you’re likely to eat less.
Your liver is your body’s natural “detoxifier,” but adequate water intake can make its job easier. When you’re hydrated, your body flushes out waste in urine, while also helping to move waste more quickly though the digestive system so it comes out in feces. There are no magic properties in infused water that improve these processes, however.
As noted, water helps move food through the gut and encourages waste removal. When you’re adequately hydrated, you’re less likely to experience constipation and associated symptoms like bloating and fatigue.
Better Mood and Energy
Once again, you have adequate hydration to thank for these benefits, and not strawberry, mint, or lemon flavoring. Even mild dehydration can zap your mood, energy, and functionality, so drinking enough water can help stave off these symptoms.
There is research to suggest that a drop in dehydration levels as small as one percent can result in reduced concentration, headaches, and a bad mood. Other studies suggest that people who drink 2.5 liters (85 oz.) of water per day are calmer, happier, and more energetic than those who drink about half this amount.
What’s the key to healthy-looking skin? Hydration. And that is just what water provides. Adequate hydration supplies your skin cells with water so they appear healthy and full. Keep in mind that the influence is rather minimal and would only be noticeable in those who are very dehydrated. Again, infused water offers no added benefit here.
Infused Water Recipe
Fruit-infused water is a great way to give a flavorless drink some flavor. And if you don’t particularly like the taste of water, infusing water with fruits and herbs that you do like can help you drink more of it.
It’s very easy to make—all you have to do is add the food items you like and let them soak for a bit. Just grab a water pitcher and some fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs.
Here’s an example of a fruit-flavored water recipe:
Add five cups of water into a pitcher, then pour in a half cup of small strawberries, some fresh mint leaves (rubbed first), and a cup of ice cubes. Slice a lime and squeeze its juice into the pitcher, then add the lime in as well. Give it a stir and refrigerate.
Infused Water: No Extra Health Benefits, but a Tasty Twist to the Classic
Infused water possesses no greater health benefits than traditional water. Any nutritional value obtained from the fruits and vegetables is minimal at best, and if you’re hoping for the benefits of a plant-based diet, you’re going to need to consume the foods in whole form.
That said, if you’re unable to eat your berries and mints before they turn bad, adding them to your water could provide some extra flavor and help you get a little more value from your dollars. But, as with vitamin water and bottled water, don’t believe the hype when it comes to the health claims offered by infused-water enthusiasts (salespeople).
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