Sunday, November 25, 2007

Electrolyte Enhanced Water at Whole Foods

Since we were in the neighborhood, we figured we'd stop by the
Whole Foods in Chelsea to pick up stuff for dinner.

I noticed this display next to the checkout line.

This is beyond gimmicky. Electrolyte enhanced water! The ingredients listed distilled water, sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. So they basically remove all the minerals from the water by distilling it, then add them back again? And they advertise it that way? What a total waste. And from a supermarket chain that purports to champion the All Natural. This is the most unnatural way to treat the most essential and easily natural substance on Earth.

I mean, I guess there are other examples of this, like with brown sugar. They refine the sugar only to add back some molasses. But in that case, it doesn't seem quite as deceptive as this electrolyte enhanced water. They make it seem like it's a good thing. Ugh.

Update 5/25/08: I've noticed that when doing a google search on "electrolyte enhanced water" that no really definitive sites appear. To clarify, all natural fresh water contains electrolytes. Electrolytes are simply charged versions of various elements and molecules such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, etc. To say that electrolyte enhanced water is special is like saying that wet water is special. Or that cold ice is special. Here is a webpage that goes through the electrolyte or mineral composition of fresh waters from several different sources. You will notice that they all contain significant amounts of electrolytes or minerals.

Whole Foods (Chelsea)
250 7th Avenue (at 24th St)
New York, NY 10001


sarah said...

wow, that is so true. you should write them an angry letter. i would sign it!

i love reading about your culinary adventures in nyc, by the way!

Robyn said...

SWEET JESUS, I saw that at Whole Foods too and thought something like, "Noooooo," but couldn't whip out my camera quickly enough. We're just one step closer to Brawndo.

David said...

Sarah: I don't like Whole Foods enough to write them a letter. But thanks for signing the angry blog post!

Robyn: Yes, I am afraid this is the proto-Brawndo. Who knew a natural foods store would bring us one step closer. I've added "thirst mutilator" to my lexicon of awesome phrases.

Robin said...

This kind of makes me mad as I was sure I was feeling better by drinking this stuff. I live in Colorado where it is very dry and I was trying a new tact at hydration. Feeling sort of stupid now that I read these posts - very obvious.

David said...

Hey Robin, Although Electrolyte Enhanced Water is somewhat of a sham, I do think that there are some things out there that do a better job at rehydrating than others. I'm a believer in Gatorade and there is some actual evidence out there to suggest that it works after exercise. But then again, Gatorade has a lot of sugar in it too. Anyway, regular old water does a fine job rehydrating, and it too has electrolytes!

Ri0T said...

The same thing is true for SmartWater. In fact, if any wants to do this for fun check out:

Whole Foods' '365' Electrolyte Water, Glaceau's SmartWater, Function Beverages - Function Electrolyte Water, and O Water's Sport Water...

What you'll notice is they are ALL the same containing ALL of the same electrolytes and ALL in the same insignificant amounts.

These products contain such a low level of electrolytes, they can't make any nutritional claims on the back of the bottle. Which is why you'll notice everything is a zero and you see no 1% your daily value, etc.

So basically, as has already been stated these are no different/better than most of the mineral waters out right now.

If anyone is interested in trying something that actually has a decent amount of electrolytes in it and tastes pretty good, Healthirst, is one I've found. No calories or sugars either.

S. Skye, MD said...

you really need to educate yourselves and read the mice type these companies put out - many of the brands you cite do vapor distill their fresh waters to remove TOXINS then add back the lost electrolytes, while adding additional percentages as well - those who want a real answer should consult a medical professional and not a blogger in regard to health matters, especially since ingesting too much electrolyte enhanced water [not to be confused with sports drinks] can have a negative effect when consumption ceases or significantly decreases without a dial down phase -of particular concern are those with syncope your research people, don't be yet another web-lemming

David said...

Ri0T: I agree that many of these waters have very similar compositions. My point is really that a lot of these "electrolyte enhanced" waters are simply marketing ploys. Some waters do have different electrolyte compositions from each other. The original "electrolyte enhanced" water is regular old mineral water. These are the true all natural high electrolyte waters. In the end, drink what tastes good to you.

S. Skye, MD: Hey, I never claimed to be an expert on water, but I do have a PhD in biophysics and am finishing up my final year in medical school. You're correct that by distilling the water you will remove most toxins and all infectious agents. My point wasn't that it wasn't useful to do the distilling, it's just that I found the Whole Foods marketing a bit distasteful given their emphasis on natural products. I'm not sure I understand your concern about the risks of halting "electrolyte enhanced" water consumption abruptly. Your body is pretty good at regulating these things, unless, of course, you have some sort of heart or renal condition that causes derangement of potassium handling. I think that's what you're talking about. But anyway, most "electrolyte enhanced" waters don't have enough potassium in them to cause any trouble anyway. Not sure exactly what you're trying to get at.

Anyway, if you're thirsty then a fancy bottle of water isn't going to rehydrate you any better than tap water. If you like the taste of the fancy water then that's just fine and dandy. I'm partial to Poland Spring and Volvic. I like Gatorade when I'm exercising because of the extra sugar, and it actually has more sodium than most bottled waters. (Extra sodium and sugar in the right proportions will actually result in faster rehydration, but this really only matters if you're actually dehydrated. I won't bore you with the details.) If you're truly dehydrated then you should either go see your doctor or drink Pedialyte. Anyone with a small child who has had severe vomiting or diarrhea will know that this is what is recommended to prevent dehydration. But it's not the most pleasant thing to drink. Drinking Pedialyte is a form of oral rehydration therapy which you can read about here if interested. The formulations in oral rehydration therapy are proven and actually have a scientific basis in reality. I suspect that the only reason why the formulations haven't been popularized in the sports drink or electrolyte enhanced water market is because they necessarily taste disgusting.

Sara L. said...

It DOES say ENHANCED... in all fairness.

David said...

Sara: I never tried thinking of it that way. My initial reaction was that it seemed ridiculous to strip water of its natural electrolytes, add them back, and then call the water electrolyte enhanced. But now that I think about it maybe they add back more electrolytes than they take out. I'm at peace with Whole Foods. They're doing a good thing overall.