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How healthy is flavoring up your water?

Water enhancers can be very flavorful but a local expert says some of those enhancements are loaded with sugar.
December 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
When you think about drinking water, do you ask yourself, "bottled or tap"? Or, do you find yourself thinking, "strawberry, lemon, carbonated or sparkling'?

As flavored and enhanced waters flood the market, endocrinologist Dr. Joseph worries that these added elements may be training our tastes away from plain old H2O.

When Jennifer Brody packs a plain bottle of water in her daughter's lunch, it comes back full. She says her kids say regular water is well - boring.

"It doesn't have any flavor to it," said Jennifer's daughter, Lilly.

"It's very bland and has no taste whatsoever," said Jennifer's son, Jacob.

They prefer fruity drops and powders to give their H2O pizzazz.

But if you find yourself preferring flavors or water with a little carbonated kick, could you actually be training yourself not to like regular water?

"We're absolutely fooling our taste buds into craving and almost requiring in some cases a flavoring or a particular sensation when it comes to carbonation," said Pinzone.

He says his patients tell him they're drinking more flavored and sparkling water now than ever before.

"It is allowing them to form habits which actually affect the brain and how we crave things," said Pinzone.

He says people also crave variety. And right now, the water market is gushing with options.

The American Beverage Association says the trends are all about choice and customizing water to suit your palate. Twenty percent of households that buy bottled water also buy liquid flavor enhancers.

"Innovation is really driving the industry right now," said Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association.

But is this a healthy trend? Some enhanced drinks are loaded with sugar. One brand of flavored water contains 32 grams and packs a 120 calorie punch in twenty ounces and some zero calorie options contain artificial sweeteners.

Experts say specialty waters can be a treat, but don't give up water - the key is moderation.

"If you're drinking any single drink once or in small amounts, it's unlikely to have major health risks to you," said Pinzone.

Jennifer Brody says flavored and sparkling water options will still pop up at her house, but she will continue to promote the plain H2O too.

"I don't think anything really can replace the value of water," said Brody.

If you don't like the taste of plain water, try adding lemon slices to a pitcher of water to sip throughout the day. In addition to giving your immune system a boost from the Vitamin C, lemons are high in citrates, which doctors say inhibit the growth of kidney stones.


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