Move over, coconut water, CBD water, and aloe water, there's a new health water in town. Deep sea water could significantly improve gut health, lower cholesterol, prevent inflammatory diseases, and even rehydrate us better than other waters, according to a spate of new research. With all these developments, it probably won't be long before mineral-rich deep sea water fills refrigerator shelves at every supermarket near you.
Deep sea water is rich in electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium compared to spring mountain water, which is the source of most bottled water. In 2013, Taiwanese researchers suggested that deep sea water's beneficial qualities might come from unknown primordial components that go all the way back to the origins of life, which evolved from the deep oceans, after all. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)
The latest research appears to corroborate this theory, at least on some level. One recent study, which was conducted in Japan, had participants drink refined deep sea water from the coast daily for 12 weeks. The researchers found that they had significantly improved gut health in comparison to the control group. Another double-blind study conducted in Korea at around the same time found that deep sea water lowered cholesterol levels in people who suffer from high cholesterol. What's more, research from 2017 found that deep sea water could even treat or prevent inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis.
Kona Deep, a Hawaiian brand of bottled deep sea water, provided their water for—but did not fund—a preliminary study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona in 2016. The results indicated that deep sea water rehydrated athletes faster than spring water and even a carbohydrate-based sports drink. "This was a surprise to us when we originally did the study," says Dr. John Konhilas, a member of the research team, tells Eat This, Not That!. A subsequent, larger study the researchers published last year also found that deep sea water was better at rehydrating athletes.
Various mechanisms, like proteins called aquaporins, facilitate the absorption of water, and the contents of the water you drink can affect those mechanisms. "If you look at the content of tap water versus a sports drink, there are very different amounts of components and solutes in them," Dr. Konhilas explains. "It appears that too little of a solute isn't good, too much of a solute isn't good, somewhere in between allows that mechanism to occur most effectively." Deep sea water appears to strike the right balance, which could be why it's better at rehydrating athletes.
The research might look different if conducted on the general population, because gender, weight, ethnicity, and other factors all play a role, although Dr. Konhilas suspects the mechanisms are likely the same.
The microbiome may even facilitate rehydration. "I think we're still far from understanding what the role of the microbiome is in this," Dr. Konhilas says. "The more we learn about the gut, the more we understand that water isn't just a passive player, so it just doesn't follow osmosis." Dr. Konhilas suggests that the latest Japanese study indicates that the gut microbiome changes in response to deep sea water and could even optimize our ability to hydrate.
The latest research could be a good sign for brands like Kona Deep. "I know their concern was establishing something that could give them a competitive edge and to this day, I see it in Whole Foods or AJs," Dr. Konhilas says. As the body of research around deep sea water continues to grow, it's likely that more brands will hop on board and give Kona Deep some competition.