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Is It Better to Drink Alkaline or Coconut Water Than Plain H20?

August 25, 2016

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Maybe you’ve heard some of the promising claims about alkaline and coconut water that have circulating recently. For instance, some proponents of these so-called “super waters” maintain that they can ward off osteoporosis, boost the body’s metabolism, promote the absorption of nutrients, prevent a variety of diseases (including cancer) and even stall the natural aging process. Is this information too good to be true?

The short answer is … most likely. While some preliminary studies suggest that alkaline water may slow the bone loss process to a certain extent, further investigation is needed to determine whether this apparent benefit affects overall bone mineral density, and whether the effect is temporary or will endure over time.

With regard to the balance of the claims about alkaline and coconut water, most remain unsubstantiated. Here are five common misconceptions, along with the corresponding facts, about this latest water craze:

1. Misconception: Drinking alkaline or coconut water will speed up your body’s metabolism.

Facts: This claim is simply an urban legend. There is no valid research to back it up.

2. Misconception: Alkaline and coconut water are excellent sports drinks.

Facts: Alkaline and coconut water are perfectly fine for light exercisers to drink after their workout sessions, but these beverages fall short for more hard-core athletes. That’s because intense physical activity usually results in heavy sweating, which causes the body to lose significant amounts of sodium and potassium. In order to help hard-working muscles contract properly, it is important to replace these essential minerals. While coconut water is rich in potassium, it is lacking in sodium. Therefore, serious athletes should rehydrate with electrolyte-rich sports drinks with better sodium-to-potassium ratios.

3. Misconception: Drinking alkaline or coconut water will make you look younger.

Facts: Coconut water contains cytokinins, which are plant hormones that have been shown to slow the aging process in both plants and fruit flies. However, these benefits remain unproven in humans.

4. Misconception: Drinking alkaline or coconut will help a hangover.

Facts: Drinking alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to headaches, nausea and other “morning after” symptoms. While alkaline or coconut water will help rehydrate the body, plain water does the job just as well (and perhaps even better because it is less expensive).

5. Misconception: Drinking alkaline or coconut water will promote a healthy heart.

Facts: Potassium can help lower blood pressure and enhance heart health. Coconut water is a good source of this mineral, but it’s preferable to get it by eating whole foods like spinach, sweet potatoes and other vegetables, and drinking low-fat milk, because these options provide additional heart-healthy nutrients, such as fiber and vitamin D.

Some people may experience health benefits from drinking alkaline and coconut water, but these effects are likely attributable to a general improvement in hydration rather than the specific properties of these beverages. In sum, most experts agree that, for most people, drinking plain water is still best.

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