Health beverages have become an increasingly popular choice among consumers, with many claiming to clear your skin, energize your mind, flush out bacteria, and promote weight loss. There are countless options to choose from, with kombucha, coconut water, celery juice, and various other fruit juices among the most popular.
However, these products, which are often marketed as a “quick fix” or “miracle cure,” may in fact be contributing to poor health, and lending to a dangerous pattern of ineffective health fads, misguided expectations, and poor consumer knowledge.
Kombucha has gained an impressive following among health enthusiasts, celebrities, and casual consumers. Advertised as a “probiotic,” kombucha boasts a long list of supposed benefits, which include improved digestion, reduced blood pressure, and a strengthened immune system, while also claiming to assist with the detoxification of harmful toxins from the body.
However, the bacteria found within kombucha have yet to be confirmed as probiotics, and furthermore, none of the aforementioned claims have been substantiated. As told by Dr. David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at Harvard University to The New York Times, “If you’re drinking this for the health benefits… I’d say rethink your drink.”
Touting a loyal following among athletes of all levels, coconut water is often praised for its ability to improve athletic performance and endurance when consumed post-workout. These claims arise from coconut water’s high concentration of electrolytes, specifically sodium and potassium, as electrolytes are believed to contribute to athletic ability.
However, one study suggests that these electrolytes do not have any significant impact on exercise performance. Granted, coconut water is actually healthy in its ability to rehydrate the body following intense exercise.
Celery juice has garnered a cult-like following thanks to Anthony William, a “medical medium” who has touted the use of celery juice as a remedy for a number of diverse health issues from weight loss and digestive issues to psoriasis and acne. While celery juice certainly contributes to hydration, thus far there has been no scientific evidence to validate any of these claims. Nutritionists instead suggest that an increased sense of well-being following the consumption of celery juice is instead likely to be a combination of better hydration and the placebo effect.
Despite popular belief, fruit juices are not actually a healthy alternative to pop or other sugary beverages. While whole fruits offer a multitude of health benefits, their juices do not. Fruit juices are high in sugar and calories, a combination which leads to weight gain rather than discouraging it.
Fruit juices actually contribute the same number of calories as their whole fruit counterparts. Unlike whole fruits, however, the consumption of fruit juice does not lead to a similar feeling of satiety, which in turn promotes increased weight gain. In short, those looking to ditch the pounds should ditch the juice.
While not marketed as a “health beverage,” water may be the ultimate ‘health’ drink available. Besides needing water for survival, a 2016 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found a correlation between inadequate water consumption and a higher body fat percentage or body mass index. Lisa Drayer, a registered US dietician, told CNN that “Drinking a glass of water before a meal can fill you up a bit and help you eat fewer calories at a meal,” therefore causing you to consume less calories.