Water, simply put, is life. It’s essential for everything from helping your organs function and lubricating your joints to flushing toxins from your body and giving your skin a healthy glow. So, it kind of goes without saying (though we’ll say it anyway) that staying hydrated is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body.
Given that, it’s no surprise to see all sorts of DIY water blends pop up on social media now and again. Some have even become viral sensations. But are these trendy waters really worth the hype? Here’s what dietitians have to say.
First, How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
Before you add anything to your H20, you should probably make sure you’re getting enough of the real deal, right? And though that “eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day” advice is pretty well-known, it’s not the universal rule. Experts often recommend a baseline of half your body weight in ounces of water each day. (So, for someone that weighs 160 pounds, that’s a baseline of 80 ounces of water, or 10 eight-ounce glasses.) Exercise, climate, and various health factors influence how much more you might need.
Read More: Are You Dehydrated Without Even Knowing It?
To get in all of the water you need, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking water with each meal, between meals, before, during, and after exercise, and whenever you feel thirsty. Sipping throughout the day like this is your best bet for putting all that H2O to good use. “Many people think that in order to hit their hydration goals, they can consume large amounts of water in one sitting,” says dietitian Erin Kenney, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., of Nutrition Rewired. “Unfortunately, the body doesn’t absorb water efficiently that way.”
The Verdict On 4 Trendy Waters
Now, is it really worth adding a little extra something-something to your sip? Keep the expert input on these popular add-ins in mind.
1. Lemon Water
Should you squeeze a lemon in your water? This H2O hack mostly gets a green light, especially if the extra flavor encourages you to drink more water. Just don’t expect tremendous health benefits as a result.
“Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals and supports skin and immune function,” Kenney says. However, some people claim that lemon water helps to promote better health by alkalizing the body, which is not supported by science. “The body actually regulates its pH throughout the day and lemon water is unlikely to have a significant impact on this balance,” says Kenney.
Also, a word of caution: Since lemon juice can break down the enamel on your teeth, drink your lemon water through a straw and brush your teeth afterward (if possible), she advises.
2. Rice Water
Rice water is exactly what it sounds like: the water that’s left over after you boil rice. But why exactly would you want to drink this starchy substance? As it turns out, rice water could potentially help relieve constipation—and even come in handy during a case of the runs.
Rice water may have a small amount of fiber content, which could help normalize bowel movements and help you ward off constipation, says dietitian Wendy Lord, R.D., a consultant for Sensible Digs. Just be realistic with your expectations, since you’ll only get a very small amount of fiber from rice water—and only if you use brown rice. (If you’re really struggling to go, here are some more effective ways to unclog your pipes.)
On the other end of the stool spectrum, rice water can help treat diarrhea, explains dietitian Noah Quezada, R.D.N., of Noah’s Nutrition. Back in 1981, a study published in The Lancet found that rice water may be as effective as the World Health Organizations’ oral electrolyte solution (a mix of salt, sugar, and water) for treating diarrhea in young children. Other research highlights that this remedy has long been used amongst Southeast Asian families to slow stool output in and rehydrate children experiencing diarrhea.
Anything you might see about rice water being a cure for viral infections, though, is not substantiated, Lord says.
3. Chlorophyll Water
If you’re on TikTok, you’ve probably seen some influencer or another sipping on impossibly green chlorophyll water—and making all sorts of claims about what it’s done for their health.
While many of the claims you see on social media may be exaggerations, chlorophyll does offer some legitimate perks, thanks, in part, to its antioxidant properties, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A few worth mentioning: It acts as a natural deodorizer, supports healthy skin, and promotes blood and immune health.
Worth noting: Liquid chlorophyll doesn’t actually use the same compound that’s found in plants, says Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D. of Street Smart Nutrition. Instead, it contains supplemental chlorophyllin, which has some minor chemical differences from the compound that turns plants green and helps them absorb energy from the sun.
Read More: Liquid Chlorophyll Is Everywhere—So I Tried It
Still, there’s no harm in adding those dark green drops to your water. Just don’t be alarmed by any dark stools that follow and look out for any GI discomfort, which some experience, Harbstreet says. You may also be more prone to getting sunburned because of chlorophyll’s photosensitizer abilities, meaning it makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
Of course, you can also find chlorophyll (and loads of other vitamins and nutrients) naturally in dark green veggies like spinach, collard greens, arugula, broccoli, kale, says Harbstreet.
A cup of spinach has 23.7 milligrams of chlorophyll while half a cup of parsley has 19, according to Oregon State University. Meanwhile, popular chlorophyll supplements often offer around 100 milligrams of chlorophyllin per serving.
4. Lettuce Water
Could steeping lettuce leaves in boiling water for five minutes help you get better Zzzs? That’s what the latest health trend suggests, and it *could* be legit, according to Lord. It all comes down to a compound in lettuce called lactucarium. A milky substance secreted by the base of lettuce leaves at the stem, lactucarium has a reputation for its sedative and pain-killing properties, Lord says.
“Unfortunately, scientific research has only been able to establish a connection between lettuce and sleep quality in mice, not in humans,” Lord says. “But lettuce has been used for centuries, from as far back as the Roman era, for its sleep-promoting qualities.”
Not into the idea of water that tastes like salad? Here are some more tricks that nutritionists recommend for better sleep.
While you don’t need any fancy waters to enjoy the benefits of hydration, they can certainly be a fun way to give your routine a healthy boost and mix things up. It’s just important to understand their limitations. Ultimately, if trendy add-ins get you sipping on more water, all the better!