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  • You Say ‘Water’, I Say ‘Snake Oil’

    The beverage industry has always been home to potions that try to provide “added value” (and calories, artificial ingredients, sugars, dyes, and cost) to the very thing most people need to drink more of — water.

    If you thought few things could top the ridiculousness of Coca-Cola and Nestlé’s “calorie-burning” canned drink Enviga (which, thankfully, landed on shelves with a resounding thud in 2007), check out these four “aqua-ceuticals”.

    Warning: this post may cause forceful eye-rolling.

    Borba Water

    The brainchild of a Hollywood aesthetician who also labels himself a “neutraceutical expert”, these “skin balance” waters are available in four varieties: Age Defying, Firming, Clarifying, and Replenishing, each featuring a “superfruit” from another continent (easy way to tack on an additional dollar to the price tag).

    The company also sells “skin balance” gummi bears, “slimming and skin firming” chocolate chews, and “aqualess crystalline drink mixes” (that’s fancy marketing speak for “powder”).

    Let’s take a look at one of these “skin waters”, though. According to the company’s website, the “age defying” beverage:

    “… contains a revolutionary cultivated bio-vitamin complex along with a scientifically designed blend of age-fighting skin renewers intended to enhance your youthful appearance by softening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and renew skin’s natural glow.”

    Catch all that? Behold the revolutionary ingredient list:

    Purifield[sic] Water, Ascorbic Acid, Malic Acid, Vitamin E Acetate, Magnesium Gluconate, Carrot Extract (For Color), Xanthan Gum, Gum Arabic, Sucralose [Splenda], Calcium Pantothenate, Green Tea Solids, Flaxseed Powder, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Hibiscus Extract (For Color), Grape Seed Extract, Natural Flavor, Zinc Picoliante, Blueberry Juice Solids, Açaí Juice Solids, Vitamin A Palmitate,Vitamin B12, Noni Solids.

    Essentially: water, added vitamins, Splenda, and tiny amounts of food extracts.  The aqualess crystalline powdered version of this beverage also contains two artificial dyes. Who needs Botox when you’ve got Red 40 and Blue 1?

    While there is no doubt proper nutrition is beneficial for our skin, results come from — you guessed it — eating real food. A smidge of “blueberry juice solids” and flaxseed powder in what is otherwise artificially-sweetened Vitamin Water won’t cut it, and it certainly won’t do anything to firm up or age defy your face.

    Neuro

    Billed as “the operating system for life”, Neuro offers the following varieties, each with their unique tagline:

    • NeuroSleep — “Zzz in Every Bottle”
    • NeuroPassion – “Drive In Every Bottle”
    • NeuroSun – “Vitamin D in Every Bottle”
    • NeuroTrim – “A Leaner You in Every Bottle”
    • NeuroSport – “Replenishment in Every Bottle”
    • NeuroAqua – “Premium Hydration in Every Bottle”
    • NeuroBliss — “Happiness In Every Bottle”
    • NeuroSupreme – “Life In Every Bottle”

    Neuro Trim, for example, contains:

    “… a special form of fiber known as Amorphophallus konjac (“LuraLean®”).  When consumed, LuraLean expands in the stomach to many times its original size, helping to control appetite and reduce between meal food cravings. Based on the expansion properties of LuraLean, one gram (included in each serving of NeuroTrim) is equivalent to 18-20 grams of regular fiber. In conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise program, NeuroTrim should be consumed 30 minutes prior to each major meal.”

    Fiber is now patented? A better alternative: eat fiber-rich foods throughout the day. You’ll feel satiated, reap health benefits you can’t get from isolated fibers, and also get all the nutrients that come with eating real food (a concept that is increasingly becoming more novel).

    NeuroSleep, meanwhile, offers melatonin, 5-HydroxyTryptophan (“an ingredient structurally similar to tryptophan”) and magnesium (“to prevent cramping during rest”).

    Those ingredients aside, here is what a bottle of NeuroSleep offers (at $3.50 a pop):

    Filtered Water, crystalline fructose, Citric Acid, acacia gum, Ester Gum, Natural Flavors, Magnesium Citrate, sodium benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sucralose [Splenda], Beta Carotene (Color)

    Considering that fellow melatonin-enhanced beverage Drank was recently reprimanded by the FDA, I can’t help but wonder if NeuroSleep’s shelf days are numbered.

    PentaWater

    “Designed to absorb into the body faster and more completely” (because our cells don’t know what to do with regular water?), Penta Water is ultra purified and “energized” (with hyperbolic marketing).

    But, wait, there’s more! “No other water bottled is as pure”, because only Penta goes through a patented process which — ready for this? — “spins the water at high speed and pressure for 11 hours, and as a result increases antioxidant activity.”

    How about letting water be water?

    Skinny Water 

    And the facepalms keep on coming! Behold Skinny Water, with its neon-colored varieties, bare-bones website that doesn’t disclose any ingredients, and very own “SkinnyU” internship program (eek!).  A few minutes of research revealed these are nothing more than vitamin-enhanced, Splenda-laden waters (one variety — “Crave Control” — contains an appetite suppresant, hence the moniker).

    Of course, there is a gimmick. According to the folks at Skinny Water, “The Wake-Up and Total-V are recommended for the morning, the Crave Control is suggested for the midday, the Shape is suggested before dinner and the XXX Detox after dinner or before bed.”

    My advice: drink more water. The undyed, unsweetened, unflavored, “unenergized”, un-gimmicky kind.

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    6 Comments

    1. Erin K said on January 10th, 2012

      I just drink water. My ex-spouse (who is fond of energy drinks) once combined “whoop-ass” with “SmartWater”… creating “Smart-Ass Water”.

    2. Barry said on January 10th, 2012

      Nice one, Andy. One of your more hilarious posts. I just wish it really was funny. Imagine the energy that goes into this crap. Keep on keeping us informed. Thank you.

    3. Marsha said on January 10th, 2012

      #facepalm

    4. erika said on January 11th, 2012

      I think I pulled an eye muscle.

    5. Norma said on January 11th, 2012

      If you make it, they will buy it. Sad but true. There’s a quick-fix, magic-pill American sucker born every minute.

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