Truth or Tale? Putting Water Fads Under Scientific Scrutiny

bottle of water and crystal

Can you make a glass of cold and clean water anymore restorative than it already is? Water has figured into a myriad of recent wellness fads claiming to elevate this essential part of our lives to another level. 

Is it possible to optimize your water? Tales of wondrous healing circulate, first with wellness influencers in exotic locations before making their way into internet articles as water fads and eventually the anecdotes of our own family and friends. 

Water is, without question, a healing source. But does science support the credit bestowed on the addition of crystals, citrus, or even omitting water altogether?  

Can putting crystals in your water infuse it with healing properties? 

Perhaps if you believe in the metaphysical qualities of crystals. This water fad alleges that you can choose a crystal corresponding to your bodily, mental or spiritual needs and by soaking it in your drinking water, you are said to absorb the positive properties of that crystal. 

The belief that crystals can alter the vibrational frequency of human cells is a cornerstone of their use in traditional medicines, including Indian Aryuvedic and Chinese, among others. 

So-called healing crystals experienced a resurgence during the latter decades of the 20th century, popularized by the turn towards holistic healing practices such as Reiki and meditation. 

Crystal water bottles arrived on the market more recently. Each bottle comes with a detailed list of benefits you can expect from that particular crystal frequency. They range from grounding, protection, creativity to relaxation and beyond. 

Mysticism aside, what does science say about crystal-infused water?

Most likely any benefits you experience––whether increased energy, a sense of well-being or even less anxiety––could just as easily be attributed to being properly hydrated, at least according to physicians. Therefore, if you’re chronically dehydrated and an 80$ crystal-infused water bottle will help you drink more water, it’s a worthy investment. 

On another note, we should acknowledge the power of the placebo. If you believe that the crystal will help you, it could result in actual changes to your neurobiological signaling pathways, leading to physiological effects. This might leave you feeling more optimistic, tranquil, or passionate, depending on the results you were after. 

In fact, there are a host of associated psychological benefits of crystal-infused water. Most likely, these will be the effects you feel most strongly––provided you really believe in the power of crystals. However, this effect emanates from your mind, rather than from the healing or stress-relieving energy stored in your crystal. Think of the crystal as a cue to unleash those powers from within your mind, helping you mitigate your reactions to everyday stress.  

But, if you are seeking to ascribe any physical benefit to the crystal in the water, there are no studies, as of yet, which support that claim. 

Can you get your daily water intake from food?

buffets of fruits and veggies

One of the most common pieces of health advice, delivered and received, is to ensure you’re drinking at least two liters of water a day. It’s sage instruction, for those precious two liters helps your body flush toxins, fight off infections, keep you focused, and maintain healthy body weight

Despite countless scientific studies proving this counsel, the belief that it was possible to entirely eat––rather than drink––your daily water intake has somehow found a loyal crew of supporters. 

Spurned by an almost obsessive desire to somehow optimize, or “hack” hydration, the practice entails eliminating drinking water almost altogether. Instead, you hydrate by consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables. 

The reasoning is that drinking water doesn’t only hydrate your body, but also acts as a cleanser–– which, in itself, is an important tenet of water’s essentiality. 

On the one hand, nutritional science does support the view that so-called “living hydration” contributes to our daily intake of water. This means that consuming water-rich foods, such as cucumbers and melons, adds to your water intake. Furthermore, water-rich foods are particularly helpful when you need to replenish minerals that your bodies may have lost during exercise or following a period of dehydration.  

Furthermore, the book The Water Secret written by UCLA professor of medicine Dr. Howard Murad supports the claim that eating more water-rich foods is better for you than just drinking more water if you are trying to stay better hydrated. Water-rich food is more effective for cellular-hydration since it is absorbed slower and lingers longer in the body, thanks to the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients present in those foods. Water flushes through your body, bringing with it some vitamins and minerals, but also disposing of toxins that would otherwise continue to pollute our cells. 

The issue remains, however, that you should not give up drinking water entirely. Rather, integrate more water-rich foods into your diet, alongside the ever-critical 2L minimum of daily water intake.

On average, only about 20% of our fluids come from the food we eat. To meet your daily hydration needs, you would have to eat around 17 oranges every day.

While the eat-your-water fad has been touted for curing conditions including allergies, acne, eczema, and praised as a route to a full bodily reset, physicians agree that for more people getting your entire daily water intake from fruits and veggies for most people is unrealistic. 

Worst case scenario, limiting water intake can cause unnecessary stress on your body and lead to issues such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, fatigue, headaches, and a host of other problems. 

Will lemon water save your life?

lemons in a pitcher of water

Drinking lemon water first thing when you wake up has been eulogized as a miraculous cure for many afflictions; from clearing up acne, reducing joint inflammation, boosting metabolism, helping digestion, detoxifying your liver. Thousands of website articles and celebrities have praised lemon water as a magic potion. But does your health hang on making a habit of drinking lemon water every morning?

Let’s examine the individual claims to fame:

“Will lemon water boost my metabolism?”

Yes–– but even if you forget to add the lemon. Even plain water boosts your metabolism because it has no calories, yet your body still needs to use calories to metabolize it. Water actually increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation

Furthermore, drinking sufficient amounts of water has been shown to help you lose weight if that’s your desired outcome. If you find water more palatable with a generous squeeze of lemon, the addition certainly won’t cause harm––but nor will it provide any magical benefits. 

“Should lemon water be the first thing I drink in the morning?”
A plain glass of water will do. Also, if you do decide to drink it with lemon, be sure to rinse your mouth after drinking, as the acids present in lemon can cause excess wear to your tooth enamel.

“Does lemon water improve digestion?”

Lemons are high in Vitamin C which, when consumed in high quantities, can have a laxative effect. However, getting enough vitamin C to induce a ‘C’ Flush is nearly impossible without consuming supplements. But, since digestion ends in bowel movement, drinking lemon water can help you induce a number two. Evidence of this effect though is largely anecdotal. 

Again, even drinking plain water can help with your digestion. Better yet, magnesium-rich water is a proven digestive aid. It has also been shown to prevent and treat constipation. It improves digestion by drawing water into the intestines while also relaxing the muscles.

“Will lemon water help me detoxify?”

Water is a diuretic, which is a substance that encourages urination. Drinking water, whether or not it contains lemon, helps eliminate waste from the body through urine and healthy bowel movements.

Claims that lemon water can help improve liver function, which is the organ solely dedicated to detoxing the body, have yet to be unequivocally proven. A link has been observed that the antioxidant properties of lemons can reduce the effects of alcohol injury––in mice. 

If you want to support the healthy functioning of your liver we encourage you to start with a big glass of water––with, or without lemon. 

Will hydrogen water give me energy?

Hydrogen water has amassed a loyal following of adherents who cite it as a possible alternative to energy drinks among a myriad of other benefits. 

Water already contains hydrogen. However, hydrogen water is created by adding in extra hydrogen molecules by injecting hydrogen gas into water. In Japan, it is known as the “Shin’nooru solution.” 

It is believed that consuming extra hydrogen reduces inflammation in the body, acts as an antioxidant, improves your mood, reduces the side effects of radiation treatments for cancer, and increases athletic performance by reducing muscle fatigue. 

So far, these are largely theoretical claims stemming from the antioxidant activity of hydrogen molecules in the body and their role in reducing inflammation. The ongoing oxidative stress from bodily processes and exposure to pollutants can cause your central nervous system to suffer a breakdown in function, sometimes resulting in heart conditions or diabetes. However, the degree to which hydrogen water manages to tackle chronic illness and diseases has, to date, not been established, 

Any studies which have been done were mostly performed on animals, which don’t always translate to the same effects in humans. Studies on the effects of hydrogen in humans have been very small, making reaching any kind of scientific conclusion difficult. 

One study in Japan surveyed 26 people who found that over the course of four weeks, participants were generally in a better mood, had less anxiety, and improved autonomic nerve function. 

A similar size study was undertaken by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, of the Perricone brand, the leading producer of hydrogen water in the USA. 

It found that people who had drunk 16 ounces of hydrogen water had increased activity in the enzymes that produce energy in our cells. This led him to conclude that hydrogen water could have a positive effect on increasing energy levels, making it a natural antioxidant “energy recovery drink.” 

While this could be true, what remains unclear is the amount of hydrogen needed and the frequency one would need to drink it in order to reap the benefits. Fortunately, there seems to be virtually no risk in drinking it and, again, the placebo effect could work miracles on how energized you feel. 

If there is one constant amid these water-fads it is that staying adequately hydrated will have a positive effect on your mental and physical wellbeing. 

While advocates for individual fads might argue that personal experience has proven the benefits of the genre of water they are consuming, studies are still needed and unlikely to materialize in many of the cases considering the economic and logistical complexity of undertaking long-term research.

To support your long-term health, ensure you are drinking those two liters a day, ideally of mineralized water–– with a twist of crystal, lemon, or cucumber if you so please. 

By Natalia Kvitkova — Mar 2, 2021
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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