Product Reviews

Coconut Water

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Coconut water is one of the biggest wellness fads in the last 10 years. But is it everything it claims to be: a great source of potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, amino acids, and even cytokinins (a hormone with hypothesized antiaging, cancer-fighting properties), plus low in calories, and an excellent hydration tool? I can definitely speak to the last claim based on personal experience in my gastroenterology practice.

Growing up in Jamaica and drinking coconut water right out of the coconut, I was excited when coconut water hit the U.S. market. As a gastroenterologist, I began using coconut water as a form of oral rehydration therapy in patients who struggled to stay hydrated because of diarrhea, which can be a problem for people with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) or in those who’ve had their colons surgically removed because of cancer or disease. While sports drinks are often the go-to hydration tools for patients suffering from diarrhea, they’re also full of additives like citric acid, sodium citrate, and tons of sugar. They’re also very concentrated, which can lead to worsening of diarrhea. Coconut water is great in this setting because it’s already diluted and of course, natural. 

Coconut water also contains electrolytes, which can give it some advantage over water in certain settings, but it’s not a magic pill by any means. Because of its sugar content (6 to 8 grams per cup), coconut water should be consumed in moderation and shouldn’t completely replace water for rehydration.

With my patients, I often recommend using 8 to 10 ounces of high quality coconut water in their daily green smoothies. While water is fine to use, coconut water adds a little sweetness and flavor that can balance out the more bitter taste of the greens so you may not need to add any additional fruit. Which kind should you use? Organic, never processed with heat, and as close to raw as possible. 

Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, is the founder of Gutbliss Rx. She is an integrative gastroenterologist and the bestselling author of Gutbliss, The Microbiome Solution, and The Bloat Cure. Educated at Yale and Columbia, she’s been on the faculty at Georgetown University Hospital since 1997 and is the founder of the Digestive Center for Wellness, an integrative gastroenterology practice incorporating microbiome analysis and nutritional counseling as part of the therapeutic approach to digestive disorders. An avid runner, snowboarder, and yogi, she is passionate about helping her patients live not just longer lives, but dirtier ones!

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