There is no denying the fact that in recent years there has been a growing list of fast-changing health trends. This ranges from aloe vera to cactus sap to maple water, and the latest is birch sap water or birch water. Birch water is derived from Betula trees, and it has been gaining popularity in the United States lately. However, birch water is not a new concept in China and Northern Europe, and people in these regions have been using birch water for centuries for potential health benefits. Birch water is also used in skincare products and cosmetics. Known the benefits and side effects of birch water.
What is Birch Water?
Birch water is derived from the sap of birch trees. The sap gets harvested during early spring, and it is a clear, colorless liquid that has a slightly sweet taste. In the winter months, birch trees store up nutrients that later get released into the sap of the tree. After two to three days of being tapped, the birch water starts to ferment and develops a more acidic taste.(1, 2, 3)
Birch water can either be consumed on its own, or you can use it in other products such as beer, wine, mead, and syrup. You will also find bottled birch water being sold online and in some retail stores. However, keep in mind that these types of bottled commercial birch water usually contain added flavors and sugars and are not natural.
What are the Benefits of Birch Water?
There is not much research available on birch water, but it is still believed to have several health benefits. These include:
Birch Water Is A Good Source Of Nutrients
Burch water contains many nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals. In the past, sailors would often drink the sap of birch trees to keep diseases like scurvy at bay.(4) There are many factors that impact the nutrient composition of birch water. These include:
- Soil type
- Specific species of birch
- Age of the tree
One bottle of birch water (300 ml/10.2 ounce) contains the following:
- Total calories: 9
- Sugar: 3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Magnesium: 95 percent of the Daily Value
- Calcium: 2 percent of the Daily Value
- Manganese: 130 percent of the Daily Value
- Zinc: 3 percent of the Daily Value
Studies have also shown that birch water contains varying amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, phosphorus and copper. Apart from this, birch water also has large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants and small amounts of amino acids. Polyphenol antioxidants help fight against oxidative stress in the body and are also believed to help prevent inflammation.(6, 7)
Birch Water May Have Antioxidant Properties
The specific amounts of polyphenol antioxidants may vary in birch water, but it still contains a substantial amount that helps protect the cells of the body against damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.(8)
Studies have shown that polyphenols can help safeguard against many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some forms of cancer as well.(9) Polyphenol antioxidants also have a role to play in preventing inflammation in the body.(10)
Furthermore, another study carried out on the water from white birch trees found betulin, which is a plant compound that helps your body transform it into betulinic acid. Even though there is less research available, it is believed that betulinic acid may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties.(11, 12, 13)
Birch water also contains a good amount of vitamin C, which also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body.(14)
Powerful Source Of Manganese
Birch water contains an astounding 130 percent of the daily value for manganese in just 300 ml (10.2 ounces) of water. Manganese is an essential mineral that your body requires for the development and maintenance of bones.(15)
Studies have shown that when you combine manganese with zinc, copper, and calcium, it can help decrease the loss of spinal bone in older women.(16) And the best part is that all these nutrients are present in birch water.
Furthermore, manganese helps in the formation of an antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which helps protect cells from oxidative damage. It is also believed to lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, etc.(17, 18, 19)
Manganese is also known to help in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol in the body, while also aiding the management of blood sugar levels.
Helps Strengthen Hair
Due to the fact that birch water helps boost collagen production and absorption of iron, the vitamin C present in birch water can help strengthen your hair. Collagen is a protein that helps maintain the elasticity, strength, and hydration of your skin. Studies have shown that both iron and collagen help boost the growth of hair and supports the structure of the hair cells. Apart from this, vitamin C also protects against free radicals, which are known to damage hair cells, thus preventing hair growth.(23, 24)
However, even though many traditional remedies suggest the use of birch water for the treatment of hair loss, there is no scientific evidence to show that birch water helps hair growth. This is why more research is needed to support this application.
Helps Boost Skin Health
You might have noticed that birch water is being used as a popular ingredient in cosmetics and lotions. This is because birch water has strong hydrating and antioxidant properties. A test tube study observed that by replacing water with birch sap in a certain skincare product, the production of skin cells known as keratinocytes increased dramatically. This indicated that birch sap could help keep your skin hydrated and rejuvenated.(11)
These benefits for your skin are also believed to be due to the presence of vitamin C in birch water, which is known to boost the production of collagen. Vitamin C also helps keep your skin safe from harmful UV rays, which are known to hasten the process of aging and cause wrinkles.(25, 26)
Nevertheless, there is still a need for more research on how birch water affects your skin health, both as an ingredient in cosmetics and as a beverage.
Low In Calories and Good in Taste
Birch water is significantly lower in calories and sugar when you compare it to other similar drinks like coconut water or maple water.(27, 28) Even though it is sometimes sold as being a good source of electrolytes since it contains potassium and magnesium, but there is no research to support that you can use it to hydrate after exercising.
However, the unique taste of birch water and its mineral content makes birch water a great option for people who want a flavorful alternative to plain water.
Are There Are Any Side Effects Of Having Birch Water?
Birch water is typically considered to be safe when had in moderation. However, since research is limited on this beverage, its potential side effects might not be known or not fully understood.
One study done on people with birch-pollen allergies discovered that 39% of the adult participants tested positive for birch sap when they were given a skin scratch test.(29) This is why anyone who is allergic to birch pollen should be careful when consuming birch water.
It is also best to restrict your water and not go overboard drinking birch water since there is a risk of developing manganese toxicity. This can be dangerous for those people who have impaired liver function.(30)
Currently, the tolerable upper limit for manganese is 9 to 11 mg per day for adults. For children, it ranges between 2 to 6 mg per day, depending on the exact age.(31)
It is important to understand that a single serving (300 ml/10.2 ounce) of birch water contains 3 mg of manganese. This means that some children may end up exceeding the upper limit of this mineral by just having one drink. Adults also need to restrict themselves to having just three servings or fewer every day.
Birch water is the latest trend in foods and drinks around the world. Derived from the sap of birch trees, birch water is known to have many health benefits as it is a potent source of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Birch water is especially rich in magnesium and manganese while being low in calories and sugar. It is believed to help boost hair and skin health, though, again, there is limited research available on this.
It is possible to purchase birch water online or in stores, but you should remember that certain commercial brands may add artificial flavors and sugar to the product. This is why it is essential to make a choice only after reading the product label carefully.
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