Flavoured Water Drops

Enhancing Your Water – The Rise of Flavored Water Drops


Flavoured Water Drops

Drinking water is good for you, we all know it, and you’re probably well aware that you should be making an effort to drink more of it.

Hydration is essential for every last metabolic process that is performed by our bodies. Water helps your organs to function and can also improve your external features such as hair and skin health [1,2].

The issue is, so many of us complain that we simply can’t drink more water as it seems like a chore to get this elixir of life into our bodies.

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Complaints of water being boring and tasteless are all too common in today’s over-stimulated western society; so the market has come up with a solution – flavor it.

What Are Flavored Water Drops?

The majority of water enhancers are sold as small squeeze bottles that contain concentrated flavoring that can be added to water a couple of droplets at a time.

Since making an appearance in the marketplace a few years ago, flavored drops have become incredibly popular. With certain brand making over $100 million worth of sales in their first year alone, there’s no arguing that water enhancers have truly changed the beverage industry,

Water enhancers are mostly purchased by health conscious individuals, those who would rather be drinking water than carbonated beverages or juices, but still prefer to consume a drink with flavor.

The small, easily portable flavor drop bottles make them perfect to always have on hand – in your pocket or in the draw of your desk at work – there’s no reason you should ever have to go without them.

But do these handy squeeze bottles really live up to the name of water enhancers? And is it healthy to incorporate them into your diet as a substitute for regular water?

Water enhancer are marketed as a healthy alternative to juices, energy drinks, sugary squash and many other beverages that line the supermarket shelves. Parents and athletes are all lead to believe that flavored water drops are beneficial to their health, but to what extent is this true?

What’s Inside?

Yes, you might be drinking more water – but what else are you actually putting into your body?

Many flavored water drops will proudly display that they contain zero calories or sugars, and a huge number of people don’t realize how disruptive this marketing actually is in terms of your health. The limited restrictions and trading standard rules mean that while companies are required to clearly display certain nutritional information (we all know the traffic light labels by now) they can easily get away with hiding away many other ingredients in the small print at the back of the packet.

It’s important to note that when following the recommended serving of any water enhancer, you will still be consuming around 98% water. It’s only a small 2% of your beverage you have to worry about. But, in that other 2% you are getting:

  • Taurine [3,4]

Taurine is an ingredient found listed on the back of many sports drinks. It’s an organic acid – amino sulfonic acid – and is found within the body as it acts as a lipid/membrane stabilizer.

Taurine is also found naturally in our diet inside meats and has actually been shown to have a wide variety of health benefits. Research on taurine includes evidence to say that it works as an effective anti-diabetic compound due to its action on organs of the body that are of most concern to those who are diabetic (kidney, eye, nerve health etc.) as well as its influence on improved blood sugar control and reduction of some forms of insulin resistance.

The major concern with taurine is that the is an upper limit for its consumption. Consuming too much taurine can cause it to have toxic effects on the body. It seems as though it’s probably highly unnecessary to put additional volumes of the substance into our bodies when there is more than enough taurine in meat and fish to provide you with all of its health benefits.

  • Caffeine [5]

The most popular and widely consumed stimulant drug out there but there’s a reason you don’t let your kids drink coffee! [6,7]

Large amounts of caffeine can elicit damaging effects on our bodies, and the simple fact that it’s a stimulant in the first place means you’re likely to have an energy crash somewhere down the line.

There are also a wide variety of studies in existence showing that large amounts of caffeine can have ill effects on fetuses and breastfeeding infants.

  • Sucralose [8]

An artificial sweetener, Sucralose is your calorie-free alternative to sugar. The good news about Sucralose is that it is a more potent sweetener than sugar itself – meaning you need to add a lot less of it to have a saccharine effect.

However, the topic of artificial sweeteners is by no means one free of heated debate. Although Sucralose is not proven to be as damaging to human health as more researched sweeteners like aspartame, many still claim that it is damaging.

Claims include stimulation of spikes in insulin levels and appetite, both leading to weight gain and obesity. There are also feats that Sucralose could possess the same links to cancer that aspartame has been shown to hold.

In small amounts, it is not likely that Sucralose is going to have an excessively negative health impact, but it can still be argued that it is better to remain skeptical of the unknown. Until there is a well-researched evidence base, it is impossible to know for sure what a substance is going to do inside your body.

It is worth pointing out that, as of now, the FDA has not found any risk to be present when consuming Sucralose in normal amounts.

  • Propylene Glycol

An ingredient in deodorants, shaving cream and even in anti-freeze, the case for including propylene glycol in anything created for human consumption is one you might be inclined to question [9].

The function of propylene glycol in food products is to prevent discoloration, not at all necessary, it’s just about the aesthetics.

The FDA actually recognizes propylene glycol as “generally safe”, which probably seems surprising considering the damaging effects of consuming the products listed above. Propylene glycol might have a “no cancer” designation, but that by no means labels it as safe to flavor water with. While it may well have no known cancer link, evidence of this substance being associated with kidney damage and skin damage does exist.

An Upside?

Vitamin Content.

Many water enhancers are fortified with vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Vitamin C [10] is often a useful addition to water enhancers. Vitamin C is not made within the body, so it is a requirement that you obtain this from your diet – problematic if you aren’t eating enough fruit and veg. Vitamin B [11] is another micronutrient you can obtain from flavor drops. This can help boost organ function and play a role in metabolism regulation.

Unfortunately, the inclusion of these may, in actual fact, prove redundant. The trivial amount of vitamins contained within water enhancers generally will not give you any measurable health boost. The vast majority of people will already obtain enough vitamins and antioxidants through their diet, and if you do happen to be deficient, you’re going to need something more potent than a water enhancer to solve the problem.

What is the Alternative?

The idea behind water enhancers is to make the drink more interesting. So perhaps instead of doctoring your water with false colors and artificial sweetness, a better idea would be to change things up using all-natural ingredients. This is a sure fire way to infuse some flavor, without piling in sugar, calories or chemicals.

  • Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Lemon, cucumber, raspberries.. the options you have when it comes to adding fruits to your drinking water are endless. Frozen fruit can even double in function, keeping your drink cool throughout the day.

  • Mint Ice Cubes

Adding fresh, chopped herbs to your ice cube tray is a great way to use of leftover herbs before they go bad and makes for a refreshing and sophisticated drink.

  • Tea Bags

Quick and easy – chuck a peppermint tea bag in your water bottle. This is a highly effective way of infusing some flavor into your beverage, and one tea bag will last you multiple re-fills!

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The Final Word

The are some good things to be said about the concept of water enhancers. If it gets you drinking more water – excellent! Especially if adding a few flavor drops is going to keep you from living off of carbonated, sugary beverages.

Unless you’re consuming water enhancers in extremely large quantities, you’re unlikely to get any dangerous doses of the chemicals inside them – an obvious fact that applies to a huge range of substances we encounter and consume on a daily basis.

Despite all this, it is fair to say that flavored water drops are 100% marketing hype, 0% substance. You’ll be much better off choosing one of our easy and all-natural alternatives.

[1] Jéquier, Eric, and Florence Constant. “Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration.” European journal of clinical nutrition 64.2 (2010): 115.
[2] Sawka, Michael N., Samuel N. Cheuvront, and Robert Carter. “Human water needs.” Nutrition reviews 63.s1 (2005).
[3] Chesney, R. W. “Taurine: its biological role and clinical implications.” Advances in pediatrics 32 (1985): 1-42.
[4] Huxtable, R. J. “Physiological actions of taurine.” Physiological reviews 72.1 (1992): 101-163.
[5] Lane, James D., et al. “Caffeine effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute psychosocial stress and their relationship to level of habitual caffeine consumption.” Psychosomatic Medicine 52.3 (1990): 320-336.
[6] Seifert, Sara M., et al. “Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults.” Pediatrics (2011): peds-2009.
[7] Seifert, Sara M., et al. “Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults.” Pediatrics (2011): peds-2009.
[8] Ma, Jing, et al. “Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on gastric emptying and incretin hormone release in healthy subjects.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 296.4 (2009): G735-G739.
[9] Arulanantham, Karunyan, and Myron Genel. “Central nervous system toxicity associated with ingestion of propylene glycol.” The Journal of pediatrics 93.3 (1978): 515-516.
[10] Padayatty, Sebastian J., et al. “Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention.” Journal of the American college of Nutrition 22.1 (2003): 18-35.
[11] Arulanantham, Karunyan, and Myron Genel. “Central nervous system toxicity associated with ingestion of propylene glycol.” The Journal of pediatrics 93.3 (1978): 515-516.


About the Author John Wright

John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry! You can contact him via the "About Us" page.

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