Transcript and Show Notes
Gosh! This is our second podcast. Let’s get starte
Few days ago the South China Morning Post has released an article about Birch Water. And thanks to a friend I got a free sample
Most of you know Hong Kong can be a bit slow concerning health trends.
Apparently celebrities in the US and UK were already treating it as the new super health drink in the beginning of 2015, kicking coconut water off it’s pedestal,
While in Hong Kong Birch Water has only been launched this summer.
The only available brand at the moment is Sibberi. See-beary? Sigh-beary?
Sooo Sibberi is made of 100 percent unsweetened birch tree sap harvested from birch trees in Latvia.
For you who don’t know: Latvia is a lovely European country wedged in between Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania.
I wonder if the founders of Sibberi chose it’s name because of the “near by” Siberia? Trying to invoke the image of a cool, crisp and clear country side?
Interesting fact: Siberia and Latvia are historically linked through the mass deportation of thousands of Latvians to Siberian work camps in the 1940’s by the Soviet regime…. Jap
Back to the water. Sibberi contains 5 calories per 100 millilitres, compared to 13-19 calories in coconut water and more than 40 calories in soda drinks like coke.
The manufacturers claim that Sibberi contains electrolytes and vitamin B and C
Plus it contains betuloside which apparently helps flush out toxins and aid weight loss.
Betuloside or Rhododenrin is a natural phenol which shows analgesic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Meaning it’s a mild pain killer, reduces inflammations and makes you pee more.
In Germany, where I’m from, tinctures and teas made from birch leaves and birch bark are traditionally used for infections of the urinary tract, to treat kindney stones, jaundice and gout
The South China Morning Post also lists saponins as an active compound that could “have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels, cancer, bone health and the stimulation of the immune system.”
In an Huffington post article about birch water, one nutritionist points out though that there is a difference between health benefits of the bark and leaves and the health benefits provided by the water extracted from the tree trunk.
"Though water from the trunk may well contain hydrating electrolytes such as potassium, as well as a number of other health giving nutrients, there may not be sufficient levels to promise some of the miracles currently being proclaimed.”
It also turns out that saponins can be a two-edged sword.
In the study called
The chemistry and biological significance of saponins in foods and feedingstuffs
It is explained
Saponins occur widely in plant species and exhibit a range of biological properties, both beneficial and deleterious. […]
Critical consideration is given to the biological effects of saponins in food which are very varied and dependent upon both the amount and chemical structure of the individual compounds.
In other words: Dosage is a factor and depends from individual to individual
Robb Wolf, the author of The Paleo Solution, recommends that people with an auto-immune disorder should avoid eating foods that contain saponins as they can also trigger an immune response and damage the gut wall.
He goes on to say that saponins can be “so irritating to the immune system that they are used in vaccine research to help the body mount a powerful immune response.
I stumbled over an article that praises the benefits of birch water but points out there could be allergic reactions with pregnant women.
“So, birch water is simply unique. […]Pregnant women can drink birch sap only if they are not allergic to birch pollen. This allergy is very rare. Still, if a pregnant woman is prone to such allergies, she mustn’t drink birch water.”
In Hong Kong birch pollen allergies are indeed rare. But if you grew up in a climate similar to Germany or the UK note that in those countries birch is fairly common and also that the most common pollen allergy is to birch pollen.
Having said all this for most people Birch Water is fairly safe. Let’s give it a try now.
I was told to try it cold. And it less sweet than expected almost no sweetness at all. Like very diluted cumcumber juice with a light fermented zesty after taste
… a bit like Kefir water.
The mouthfeel is very much like water.
And although I also suffer from a birch pollen allergy I don’t register no allergic reaction like an itching tongue or so.
So I think it’s quite pleasant and light. But the healthy light taste might not for everyone. It tastes nothing like coconut water. And since it’s 40 HKD for a 300 ml bottle some people might still prefer the cheaper coconut water.
So all in all I don’t think that Birch Water is bad. Not bad at all. I quite like it.
I just want to emphasize that in the superfood era… lots of things can be over-hyped and not everyone might be experiencing the same benefits.
Currently there is no research on the human consumption of birch water itself only research on birch.
Still… I think it could be a good low calorie alternative to other sugary sports drinks. If I was given a choice between this and … I don’t know pocari sweat… it’s birch water hand down.
If you want to give it a try, check out the description below with all the links of all the stores in HK which sell Sibbery Birch water.
And let me know in comments below how you liked it.
In the meantime, stay healthy, keep moving and be playful.
I see you next time.