The War of the WatersHydration
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
LaCroix is one of the many sparkling (carbonated) water options that has invaded the market, with the promise of added flavor without the obvious drawbacks that sugary sodas and sports drinks come with.
(Simply put, carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure).
But now the sparkling water icon is getting fizzled out due to a pending class-action lawsuit that accuses LaCroix of false advertising. The once thriving brand has always marketed itself as an “all natural” beverage that is “100% naturally-essenced.”
In reality, LaCroix contains ingredients that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as synthetic. The lawsuit claims third-party testing of LaCroix seltzer found it contained at least three chemicals (limonene, linalool propionate, and linalool) that weren’t clearly labeled on the can.
In a press release, LaCroix’s parent company vehemently denies the claims, stating “natural flavors in LaCroix are derived from the natural essence oils from the named fruit used in each of the flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, those extracted flavors.”
Is LaCroix Really Toxic?
The firm that brought the lawsuit against LaCroix, Beaumont Costales, may have a tough time proving their case. The crux of the legal dispute will likely come down to how the FDA classifies ‘all natural’ and ‘synthetic’ ingredients, which is left up to interpretation.
According to the FDA, a “natural” ingredient that adds flavor to a food or drink must be from an “animal or plant source.”
Roger Clemens, an expert in food and regulatory science at the University of Southern California, says “It’s worth remembering these three compounds are found in low levels in a long list of different types of foods and drinks in the U.S. It is very unlikely these naturally-occurring substances pose a health risk when consumed at levels usually found in foods.”
“If there were a health risk, then citrus juices and spices, such as curry, would not be consumed or be part of the commodity market,” according to Clemens.
For example, limonene (otherwise known as D-limonene), is the first ingredient identified by Beaumont Costales as “synthetic,” but it is a commonly occurring chemical and is derived from the skin of citrus fruits.
D-limonene is one of the most common terpenes in nature. It is found in citrus oils like oranges, lemons, mandarins, limes and grapefruit. There are studies that speak in favor of these compounds. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that it has anti-inflammatory properties.
To go as far as saying LaCroix is intentionally trying to poison you or purposefully misrepresenting their product for personal gain, may be a stretch. The real conundrum when it comes to your health, is whether carbonated beverages should be your main source of hydration.
Drawbacks of Carbonated Water
There may be some drawbacks from drinking carbonated beverages.
- Irritating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). NIH reports that, “Water and other non-caffeinated drinks, for example herbal teas, are recommended as a beverage for patients with IBS. In contrast, carbonated water and other carbonated beverages should be avoided by IBS patients, because they may cause symptoms.”
- Weight Gain. While plain carbonated water is a better choice than sugary beverages like Pepsi or Sprite, Gatorade, or sweet tea, a small study suggests that plain carbonated water may increase a hunger hormone called ghrelin in men. Essentially, when your ghrelin levels are high, you’ll feel hungrier and are likely to eat more, which can lead to weight gain. But more research is needed to confirm this outcome on a larger scale and in women.
- Tooth Decay. Even when it’s unflavored, fizzy water contains an acid, carbonic acid, that gives it its bubbles. That acidity can gradually wear away tooth enamel. The good news is, it is a relatively weak acid.
So What Water Should You Drink?
Here are a few to consider:
Tap Water. You’re probably wondering, why not just drink tap water? Well, tap water may contain some elements you’d be better off not ingesting. Depending on your local water supply and where you live, your tap water could contain trace elements of aluminum, fluoride, disinfecting agents, prescription OTC drugs, pesticides and industrial runoff.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a helpful database to check on the safety of your drinking water supply by zip code. The water quality regulations specify that the pH of water at your tap should be between 6.5 and 9.5.
The National Library of Medicine (NCBI) compared the mineral content of tap water and bottled waters and concluded, “Drinking water sources available to North Americans may contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, sodium and may provide clinically important portions of the recommended dietary intake of these minerals. Physicians should encourage patients to check the mineral content of their drinking water, whether tap or bottled, and choose water most appropriate for their needs.”
Filtered Tap Water. While tap water may be the most convenient and affordable option, filtering your tap water is a major upgrade from drinking straight out of the spigot. With a wide range of water filters on the market, from easy-to-use carbon block filters like Brita to more expensive reverse osmosis (RO) systems, it is wise to do your own research before deciding on what water filtration system is productive for your household and area. Again, the EWG’s drinking water database also lets you see what contaminants may be in your drinking water and what filters work best to protect you against them.
Alkaline Water. Alkaline water is an excellent choice when deciding on exactly what water to drink. If flavor is a must for you, try throwing some strawberries, raspberries, lemon wedges or even cucumbers into your water bottle to give it some added flavor.
Alkaline water contains minerals that are beneficial to our health such as magnesium and calcium. Water with higher levels of magnesium is associated with a lower incidence of urinary stones. Water with higher levels of calcium is associated with higher bone densities and reduced likelihood of certain kidney stones.
Drinking excessive amounts of alkaline water can have its drawbacks too especially in people with less than optimal kidney function. In some instances, too much alkalinity may negatively affect the body’s normal pH, leading to metabolic alkalosis, a condition that may cause nausea, vomiting, hand tremors and confusion.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.