Are these water recipes healthy? Cleveland Clinic

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You’re already familiar with the concept of a home bar, whether it’s a shelf, a mantle, or a sleek wheeled cart where you display your finest spirits and mixers. But the TikTokkers have put a new spin on this old trend, removing alcohol from the equation and instead focusing their mixology skills on the H20.

#WaterTok, as it’s called, has become so popular that some retail stores report running out of the flavored syrups, powders, and other mix-ins that are commonly used in these water recipes.

But how healthy is it to add a bunch of colorful ingredients to plain old water? And can it really help you stay hydrated?

Actually, the answer may surprise you.

Registered Dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD, explains why these water-based creations aren’t all that much of a concern, as far as your health is concerned. But she also shares other ideas to help you stay hydrated without sweet additives.

What is WaterTok?

WaterTok is the collective name for the TikTok trend of adding artificially sweetened syrups, powders, and other concoctions to large glasses filled with ice-cold water. These ingredients often have brand names and flavors that include words like unicorn, mermaid, and magic, meant to signify the fun and whimsy of getting creative with an otherwise basic beverage.

Many people don’t like to drink plain water, so they create these concoctions to make them more drinkable, explains Czerwony.

Importantly, most of these mix-ins aren’t made with real sugar, so they’re both sugar-free and zero calories. TikTokkers say this means you can drink them endlessly, staying hydrated without packing on extra calories or impacting your blood sugar.

In fact, the whole idea behind WaterTok came from bariatric patients. When you’re recovering from weight-loss surgery, you’re not allowed to drink carbonated beverages like soda or even carbonated water for at least three months.

Some of my patients have even gotten fancy water filter systems and set up little bar areas with droppers and serums to add to their water, shares Czerwony.

Are recipes with water healthy?

There’s a lot of hype around WaterTok, with some healthcare professionals warning it could be a gateway to unhealthy, sugar-laden habits. But Czerwony says the water recipes don’t necessarily deserve the negative reputation they’ve earned.

From a health perspective, one of our biggest concerns is making sure people stay hydrated, she says. Plain water is best, but as long as you’re not making sugar-based drinks and as long as you’re not sensitive to the sweeteners you’re using, then I don’t see a big problem with these additions.

This could be confusing, given all the bad press these days about artificial sweeteners. Once touted as healthy alternatives to sugar, more and more information tells us they’re not the perfect swap we once thought, but not all sweeteners are created equal.

Here’s a quick rundown of what to look for and what to steer clear of, whether you’re shopping for WaterTok mixes or whatever:

No real sugar!

First things first: If you’re hell-bent on mixing something sweet into your water, stay away from real sugar. It’s associated with all sorts of health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and that’s just the beginning.

Limit artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are man-made compounds that taste like sugar but are very low in calories. Some common types are saccharin (Sweet n Low) and aspartame (Equal).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that artificial sweeteners are safe for human consumption, but like anything else, they are best consumed in moderation. Also, some people are sensitive to them, so keep tabs on how they make you feel.

Choose plant-based sweeteners

Instead of artificial sweeteners, look for powders or syrups made with plant-based sweeteners, which are less likely to cause sensitivities. They include:

What about sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols are a type of sweetener that is not as sweet as real sugar but has a similar chemical structure to it.

Often found in products labeled diabetic or keto-friendly, common types include xylitol and erythritol, any ingredient ending in tol. They can have side effects such as gas, bloating and diarrhea. Additionally, erythritol has been associated with the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes.

But here’s the thing: Sugar alcohols aren’t an ingredient in flavor enhancers.

Sugar alcohols aren’t the kind of products you’d use for water-based recipes, Czerwony clarifies. You’ll find them in packaged items like protein bars and sugar-free cookies, not in flavor enhancers.

The possible risks of WaterTok

For a few glasses of water a day, Czerwony says there’s mostly nothing wrong with water-based recipes. But she responds to some of the biggest criticisms of the trend:

Sensitivity to sweeteners

That’s a real risk, Czerwony says, as some people are particularly sensitive to sweeteners. Most of the time, you’ll know pretty quickly if you’re sensitive to artificial sweeteners. The biggest side effect is a really bad headache.

But note that different people react differently (or not at all) to various types of sweeteners, so if you find they get side effects from one, you can experiment with switching to another.


Some WaterTok skeptics have expressed concern that jumping on the WaterTok bandwagon will lead people to drink too waterfall. Water intoxication, as it is known, is an electrolyte imbalance that can cause confusion, nausea and vomiting.

But Czerwony says most don’t drink anywhere near that amount of water. I just don’t know too many people for whom overhydration is going to be a problem.

It’s much more common to get it too little water, so make sure you know the signs of dehydration and focus on getting the right amount for you.

Sugar addiction

Artificial sweeteners and natural sugars can also kick-start your sweet tooth, making you crave sweeter, sugarier foods. But as they say, everything in moderation.

You definitely shouldn’t drink equal parts water and syrup, cautions Czerwony. We’re talking a few drops of lean syrup here or a packet of powder there.

In these amounts, the benefits outweigh the risks, especially if you’re someone who didn’t drink enough water until you discovered WaterTok. If it’s between a sugar-laden soda or an artificially sweetened water drink, then water is definitely preferable, he adds.

What else to drink if you don’t like water

For people who don’t like the taste of plain water or are looking to cut back on super sweet drinks, the WaterTok trend offers an opportunity to stay hydrated without veering into super unhealthy territory.

And it puts you in the perfect place to start cutting back on those water mixes so you can stay hydrated AND beat sugar cravings.

Your taste buds actually peel off and regenerate every 10 days or so, explains Czerwony, so if you want to get more used to plain water, you can certainly wean yourself off your water-based concoctions and start getting used to it.

Still, it’s ideal for a drink that isn’t loaded with other stuff, so here’s how you can tap into other ways to get creative with your hydration:

  • Infusions: Fresh fruits, herbs, and even veggies (hello, cucumber!) can zhuzh up plain old water, giving it loads of flavor without a single added calorie—and it’s not a health risk to be found.
  • Herbal tea: Whether you prefer them hot or cold, herbal teas are another great choice for hydration. They already taste so delicious that you don’t need artificial sweeteners to make them taste good, notes Czerwony.
  • Granitas and smoothies: Add some extra H20 by adding water to smoothies or blending fruit with crushed ice. Refreshing AND moisturizing!

Another tip: While water is the most basic of beverages, it’s also important to remember that not everyone strikes the same. Try to understand how you are Do like to drink it: frozen with ice, heated in a cup with lemon, filtered at room temperature? Identify your water preferences and then drink.

But if you’re in the beginning stages of trying to improve hydration, says Czerwony, then don’t feel guilty about your newfound interest in WaterTok and the creative connections to water that inspired you to drink. Ultimately, if you weren’t drinking enough water, and this is a way to make you drink more, then I’m all for it.

#water #recipes #healthy #Cleveland #Clinic
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