Experts are warning that a viral trend encouraging people to stay hydrated could wreak havoc on skin, teeth and gut health.
TikTok is being inundated with videos urging users to add sweet powders and syrups to their water so they can drink more.
It’s touted as a safe way to increase fluid intake, get rid of blotchy skin, and lose weight.
However, experts say that while drinking plenty of fluids is extremely beneficial, this approach may do more harm than good.
Award-winning nutritionist Dr. Duane Mellor, from Aston Medical School in Birmingham, told The Sun: “Water is the best drink in terms of dental health and in general.”
“But adding sugar and syrup, especially to large drinks, not only means more calories, it also increases the risk of tooth damage and tooth decay.
“If you add a lot of acid, which is common in soft drinks like cola but also in some fruits, it can attack the hard enamel that covers our teeth.”
“Sweeteners may be better than sugar in terms of impact on our teeth and energy, but for some there is evidence of a small impact on how our bodies function, including the bacteria that help regulate our gut health.”
“Fillers and thickeners, which these sweet flavors often contain, may contain fiber, which could help us eat healthily.”
“But when we consume large amounts of beverages, it can affect our appetite, which means we eat fewer healthy foods at mealtime and miss out on important nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals.”
Posts related to #WaterTok have been viewed almost 700 million times.
Most commonly, users film themselves pouring flavored sachets or colorful syrups (similar to pumpkin in the UK) into large mugs or bottles.
These are often Starburst or Skittles flavored or inspired by cocktails or desserts such as “piña colada water”, “birthday cake water” or “banana split water”.
The videos aren’t necessarily about weight loss explicitly, but they often mention it in the hashtags.
One woman who shares her favorite combos regularly tags #weightloss, #goals and #weightlosstransformation, while another uses #calorie counter, #diet and #healthydrinks.
Some of the products featured on the screen also have names like “Skinny Mixes” and “Skinny Syrups” or recipes titled “Skinny Recipe”.
Others focus more on the purported benefits it can have for your skin, such as anti-aging, clearing acne, and maintaining a healthy complexion.
In one video, a woman shares her recipe for Glowy Skin Water, while another tells her followers, “Drink this. Your skin will thank you.”
The addition of sugar and syrup not only means more calories, but also increases the risk of tooth damage and tooth decay.
dr Duane Mellor
dr Sam Jethwa, vice-president of the British Association for Cosmetic Dentistry, described syrups and powders, particularly those containing sugar, corn syrup or citric acid, as “a sure-fire recipe for tooth damage.”
Not only do they have the potential to erode your tooth enamel, causing hypersensitivity and pain, they can also discolor your jawbones, he told MailOnline.
Others warned of an increased risk of more serious health problems, as well as problems with gut health.
Dietitian Ro Huntriss told The Sun: “Staying hydrated is important for health and even survival.”
“But when we think about staying hydrated, it’s important to think about the fluids we’re drinking and how they affect overall health.
“The #WaterTok recipes use different flavors and syrups to enhance the taste of the water – some are sugar based, some use sweeteners.
“Excess consumption of added sugars can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“The sugar-free versions, which use artificial sweeteners, reduce concerns about sugar and calories, but like most things, should still not be overconsumed due to potential negative health effects.”
Speaking to The Independent, Silvia Micheletti, nutritionist at Rainbow Labs, added: “Artificial flavors are high in maltodextrins, which are highly processed carbohydrates derived from starches.”
“They are commonly used as food additives in many processed foods as thickeners, bulking agents, or sweeteners.
“However, maltodextrins are very similar to sugar and can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, which in some people can lead to health problems such as weight gain, diabetes, fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis, mood swings, fatigue and autoimmune diseases. and cardiovascular disease.”
and dr Caitlin Hall, chief nutritionist and head of nutritional supplements for clinical research brand Myota, said, “These chemicals can have an extremely damaging effect on the sensitive gut microbiome.”
This can mean bloating, discomfort, weight gain, and even depression and chronic illness.
The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends drinking six to eight glasses of fluids a day.
This includes water, skim milk, and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee.
You may need to drink more fluids if you:
- Pregnant or lactating
- In a hot environment
- Being physically active for long periods of time
- Sick or convalescent
When it comes to sweeteners, the health department says they don’t necessarily make food or drink healthy, but they can help reduce your sugar intake, risk of tooth decay, and weight gain.
However, artificially sweetened beverages have been linked to tooth erosion due to their acidity.
They’re also linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, and aspartame in particular can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
The World Health Organization is reportedly in the process of classifying the ingredient that gives Diet Coke its sweetness as a “possible carcinogen.”
Experts generally agree that if you’re looking to add flavor to your water, you should try fresh fruits like a slice of lemon, vegetables like cucumber, and herbs and spices like mint or cinnamon.
Ro, who runs website Fertility Dietitian UK, said: “Although #WaterTok can improve hydration, there could also be negative associations when these drinks are consumed in excess.”
“Water should be our main drink. A great way to naturally flavor water is to use fruits or vegetables like lemon or cucumber.”
“If you do want to add artificial sweeteners, it would be wise to opt for the sugar-free versions, but try to limit your overall intake.”
She added, “It’s worth noting that it’s possible to consume too much water.”
“A good indicator of fluid status is the color of your urine.
“If it’s a pale straw color, you’re fine, but if your urine is completely transparent, that could be a sign you’re drinking more water than you need.”