Is Coconut water the new “in” drink?

Recently I’ve discovered the goodness of coconut water.  I’ve had a few friends claim that coconut water helped them rehydrate after cutting weight for a fight.  I decided to give coconut water a try and fell in love with its mild and refreshing taste.  I’ve noticed more and more people consuming this product during and after their workouts.  Coconut water is now one the fastest growing beverages on the market and getting the attention from sports drink companies as well as large soft drink companies such as Pepsi, and Coke.
 
What is coconut water?
Coconut water is the clear fluid found inside of a young coconut.  It should not be confused with coconut milk, which is the mature derivative of the young coconut.  Once the young coconut has matured, the translucent jelly- like surrounding becomes hardened into what we know as ‘coconut meat’ (Yong, Ge, Ng, Tan, 2009). Coconut water has been praised as the all natural, beverage with antioxidant properties, packed with minerals, vitamins, with zero cholesterol, added sugar or fat.  Coconut water has been known to provide emergency intravenous hydration to patients in third world countries, and played a critical part in the transfusion of plasma to wounded soldiers (Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, 1998).  The coconut water is isotonic, meaning it has the same pH level that we have in our blood (Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, 1998) and it naturally sterile due to the thick husk that surrounds the fluids. 
 
Is coconut water a good hydrator?
According to a study by M.Saat, R.Singh, R. Sirisinghe & M. Nawawi (2002), ingestion of fresh young coconut water was found to be effective in the whole body rehydration after moderate exercise induced dehydration compared to water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage.  Coconut water caused less nausea, fullness, and was easier to consume in a larger amount compared to water and the carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage.  A more recent study by Ismail, Singh, Sirisinghe (2007), added another component to the study by adding sodium to the fresh young coconut water and compared it to plain water, young coconut water, and a sports drink.  Due to the low sodium in coconut water, the sodium enriched coconut water and sports drink provided slightly faster euhydration compared to plain water and coconut water.  The sodium enriched coconut water also caused less nausea and stomach upset compared to its counter parts.  It must be noted that both studies had a small sample size of 8 and 10 respectively.
 
Bottom Line
Coconut water is a great source for hydration after moderate short term exercises to replenish lost electrolytes and fluids, but may not provide the substantial requirement of sodium lost during strenuous long term exercises.  The addition of sodium to the coconut water will facilitate the uptake of lost electrolytes. 
 
Cheers,
Jessie Wong, Physiotherapist from the Physio Room
 

*The exercises provided on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, or course of action. Exercise is not without its risks, and this or any other exercise program may result in injury. They include but are not limited to: risk of injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, or adverse effect of over-exertion such as muscle strain, abnormal blood pressure, fainting, disorders of heartbeat, and very rare instances of heart attack.

To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation. We disclaim any liability from and in connection with this program. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a physician.
 
References

Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department. New sports drink: coconut water- Simple production process gives tropical countries the key to a booming market. 1998. Taken from http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/9810/spot3.htm.

M.Saat, R.Singh, R. Sirisinghe & M. Nawawi.  Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water.  Journal of Physiology and Anthropology and Applied Human Science. Vol 21(2002); pp93-104.

Ismail I, Singh R, Sirisinghe RG. Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration. The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. 2007 Jul; 38(4): 769-85.

Yong , J.W.H., Ge, L., Yan F. Ng & S.N. Tan. The Chemical Composition and Biological Properties of Coconut Water. Molecules.  2009. 14; 5144-64.
 

Picture taken from coconutwaterlife.com