The Clinical Nutrition Team at Physio Logic, discusses the benefits and characteristics that differentiate the popular types of drinking water and the way in which they each hydrate our bodies.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: hydrate! By now you probably know how important it is to drink enough water, but is all water created equal? It seems like every time we turn around there’s a new water trend promising us more benefits than the last. It’s nearly impossible to keep up. Tap? Sparkling? Electrolytes? Alkaline? Coconut? What’s the difference?
What is it? The water that comes out of your sink or a water fountain. Tap water is almost always the most convenient choice to get in your 8 cups a day.
What’s so great about it? Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and frequently tested. It is required to be clean and safe. In most cities, tap water must be disinfected, pathogen-free, and tested for dangerous viruses. It is cheap and readily available.
Bonus: tap water is better for the environment as it doesn’t require any plastic bottles!
If you’re not 100% sure about the quality of your local tap water, using a water filter such as Brita or Pure, is a great way to ensure you’re consuming safe water. For those who like to nerd out over water quality, you can request a free kit through 311 to test your tap water.
Is this the one for me? The benefits of good old H20 from the tap have been proven again and again, it is an easy and convenient way to hydrate throughout the day!
What is it? Sparkling water is simply water that has undergone carbonation that makes it fizzy. Water + Carbon Dioxide = Sparkling Water, it’s that simple!
What’s so great about it? For people who don’t enjoy drinking water, sparkling water can be a great alternative. The bubbles in sparkling water may make it more palatable for you and it’s simple to find flavored sparkling water with popular brands like Perrier, San Pellegrino, La Croix, and Spindrift available at most restaurants and grocery stores!
Is this the one for me? Sparkling water is just as hydrating as tap water, if you enjoy a little added bubbly in your water, go for it! If you prefer a flavored sparkling water, just be wary of any added sugars which can contribute to enamel erosion. Sparkling water can cause bloating issues for some people due to the carbon dioxide holding onto air.
What is it? Some bottled water brands add electrolytes to their water after the purification process. This water has added minerals, most commonly sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium
What’s so great about it? The added electrolytes combined with water help hold the water in your bloodstream and cells for a longer time before it’s excreted by the kidney. This can help prevent dehydration.
Is this the one for me? Most people get all the electrolytes they need from their diet. If you eat a reasonable diet and have regular to strenuous daily activity, you don’t necessarily need added electrolytes in your water on the daily. Electrolyte water is great after an especially sweaty workout or if you have high levels of salt in your sweat (if you do you’ll have white stains on your clothing after excessive sweating).
What is it? Alkaline water is all about the pH balance (think back to high school chemistry discussions about acids and bases). Alkaline water is processed with a filter that raises the pH of the water. Alkaline is another term for basic, both mean a higher pH. Alkaline water, also called ionized water, has a higher pH than regular water — generally between 7 and 9.5. One popular brand of alkaline water is Essentia.
What’s so great about it? There have been many claims about the health benefits of alkaline water ranging from cancer prevention to lowering cholesterol. However, there has been limited research on the topic and alkaline water has not been recommended by the American Cancer Society. With that said, some studies have shown benefits from alkaline water in patients with acid reflux and hydration issues.
Is this the one for me? There is no research linking alkaline water to any substantial health benefits, if you are looking to use ionized water as a form of treatment, absolutely consult a doctor! However, if you simply enjoy the taste of alkaline water (or think the packaging is cute), there’s no harm in grabbing a bottle every now and then!
What is it? This one isn’t exactly water the way we typically think of it. Coconut water is the product of young green coconuts and is a salty, sweet liquid with natural electrolytes.
What’s so great about it? Coconut water contains high levels of potassium (600 milligrams per cup, compared to about 420 in a banana), so it may help to boost hydration after your workout. You will also consume far fewer calories if you choose coconut water over a sports drink. However, unlike the other options on this list, coconut water is not calorie free so it will help you rehydrate and refuel post workout!
Is this the one for me? If you’re looking to rein in your Gatorade consumption post-workout (or just day to day!) coconut water is a great alternative that has less sugar and artificial ingredients. Popular brands of coconut water include Harmless Coconut Water, Vita Pure Coconut Water, and INVO Pure Coconut Water.