For the chronically dehydrated, flavored water can be a godsend. Sometimes just a little sweetness and tang can make all the difference. However, MiO, the popular liquid flavoring mix found in most grocery stores, may be something you want to take out of the cart.
Is MiO bad for you?
Whether or not MiO is bad for you largely depends on who you ask.
MiO is a liquid flavoring, electrolyte, energy, or vitamin mix usually added to water. Owned by Kraft Heinz Food Company, the MiO line contains four types of liquid water enhancers: MiO Original, MiO Energy, MiO Vitamins, and MiO Sport. All of these are sugar and calorie-free, and sweetened with stevia, per Nutrisense.
A potential negative of MiO products is that they are full of artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and stevia extract. Although generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), artificial sweeteners are heavily debated in the medical world, and the internet is full of conflicting viewpoints determining their safety, per Healthline.
According to WebMD, sucralose in small amounts is fine and can be especially helpful for those with diabetes trying to limit sugar. However, WebMD also mentions that artificial sweeteners are still being studied, and their effect on our health is still relatively unknown.
However, according to a study conducted by North Carolina State University, sucralose is "genotoxic," which means it damages the DNA. Researchers behind the study urge people to stop consuming sucralose and avoid products that contain the sweetener.
Despite that, according to Healthline, some people still may see drinking MiO as a benefit to their health. If staying hydrated is difficult, adding MiO to your water could help someone drink more water.
What are the ingredients in MiO?
A MiO Original liquid water enhancer contains water mixed with a handful of flavoring additives and sweeteners. The ingredients listed on the MiO Lemonade Liquid Water Enhancer Drink Mix, are as follows:
Water, citric acid, sodium citrate, gum arabic, sucralose, natural flavor, sucrose acetate, isobutyrate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, rosemary extract, and Yellow 5, per Kraft Heinz.
Just with a quick google of any of these ingredients, you can find a range of research. For example, a study conducted on artificial food colors, including Yellow 5, found that they may contribute to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Another study on citric acid found that it could be a potential allergen, and cause inflammation.
Within each of these studies, researchers stressed that more investigation needs to be done to make any solid conclusions. However, it is OK to be cautious, and luckily there are many alternatives to MiO to keep you hydrated.
What are some alternatives to MiO?
If you are an avid MiO user, chances are you don't have to worry too much. However, if you are looking to try a healthier alternative, these are some that could do the trick.
Waterdrop makes a hydration cube made with natural extracts and zero sugar, and it's non-GMO and calorie-free. Although Waterdrop does contain some additives, such as citric acid, it is much more natural overall, as it's sweetened with fruit juice powder, and has no artificial dyes.
Another recommendation is Cure, a functional drink company selling hydrating electrolyte mixes that are non-GMO, zero sugar, vegan, gluten-free, contain no sugar alcohol, no artificial sweeteners, and no artificial flavors and colors.
Above all, the most natural way to add flavor to your water is to reach for fruit like lemon, lime, or orange and put a few slices in the bottle. Not only is this the healthiest option, but it will probably save you some money as well.