Water, Microclusters and Hydration. Really? No.

The rise in ‘health’ products extolling their ‘benefits’ has boomed over recent years, with the proliferation of social media, the general panic over cancer and yoga making its way to the mainstream west.  So I am no stranger to being bombarded with being told what I apparently should and should not be ingesting.  I’ve got a degree in Chemistry, I have a good scientific basis, which means I know how hard it is to actually come up with an idea, get it peer reviewed, checked for accuracy and repeatability, verified and published.  If it’s been published in a journal, it’s pretty much true.  Cue pseudoscience and people trying to make a quick buck from others that don’t really know about the processes of the scientific community.

I recently read in a yoga magazine a 2 page article (which was actually a well-covered up advertisement) that claimed that water came in clusters, hence I should buy their water as it contained water molecule microclusters, which are more easily absorbed by the body.  Which in turn helps hydrate you better.  Allegedly.  Now… there’s a red flag to the bull.  A chemistry article in my yoga magazine?  This is going to get an investigation.

We do need to keep hydrated, our bodies are 55-60% water by the time we reach adulthood. (The USGS Water Science School, n.d.)  Water is used by our bodies for all basic functions, if we don’t have enough we start to suffer, so keeping topped up while doing exercise is particularly important.  Water, H2O, is a strange molecule, the third most abundant molecule in our universe and we still can’t work it out entirely.  It’s a liquid whose molecules likes to briefly stick together in clumps. It forms bonds between the electrons in the hydrogen atoms of one molecule and the oxygen atoms in another, which them go on to form networks of molecules (Chemguide, n.d.).  These clumps, or clusters, are fleeting though.  After all, unless it’s frozen, we can’t go and pick up a lump of water.  The arrangements are mostly unstable, and greatly vary in size, hence the liquid form of water (Bates, 2009).  At the risk of making this a whole thesis, let’s cut to the claim that their water contains ‘microclusters’ (Ceponkus, 2013), that these clusters are somehow smaller and more stable than normal clusters and can get into the blood stream quicker.  How exactly have they managed to produce them and how have they managed to keep the structures stable, when universities across the globe have struggled for decades?

In short, they haven’t (Hairston, 2003).  They have made claims that by passing an electrical current through it (that’s electrolysis, we all do that at GCSE) that it somehow changes it on a micro level.  Ok, it does something, it creates gas bubbles, but it changes back more quickly than we can measure easily.  Titter titter.  Even if they had, it would make no difference.  Water gets through the gut walls quite happily in large clusters and the kidney will allow molecules up to 68,000 rmm, a water molecule is 18 rmm so that’s big.  It would make no difference if the water clusters even were smaller.  In fact it has been proven time and time again to be a scam, yet people on the hunt for anti-aging miracle cures continue to be sucked in.  Please don’t.  You wouldn’t pay £4.50 for a bottle of tap water.  Please don’t pay it for a bottle of prettily packaged water.  Water is water, give the nitrates and sulphates a skip if you like but H2O as a pure compound will always do pretty much the same thing.  If you would like to read more, including potential negative health effects, from a site that actually isn’t trying to make money from you, just educate you, visit here.

So come to yoga for our summer yoga sessions and we’ll keep you topped up with water in one of our lovely FREE mocktails.  🙂

Works Cited

Bates, D. M. (2009). Complete Basis Set Limit Relative Energies for Low-Lying Water Hexamer Structures. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 113(15), 3555-3559.

Ceponkus, J. E. (2013). Structure and dynamics of small water clusters, trapped in inert matrices. Chemical Physics Letters, 581, 1-9.

Chemguide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.chemguide.co.uk/atoms/bonding/hbond.html

The USGS Water Science School. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html




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