Antioxidants are compounds that protect us from the harmful action of free radicals in the body. Excess sugar increases the production of these free radicals by increasing inflammation in our system. So naturally a drink like Bai, which is low in sugar and high in antioxidants, was bound to catch the eyes of consumers, especially the fitness junkies. And that it did!
Yet with so many other "health drinks" turning out to be full of unhealthy components, you can't help but question: is Bai as good as they claim it to be? We'll analyze the components and answer your questions about Bai in this article.
Is Bai as Healthy as They Claim It to Be?
Our first stop to answering this question is to look at the back of the bottle.
Here are the ingredients of Bai, according to its label (in the same sequence):
- Filtered water
- Bai proprietary sweetener blend (erythritol, stevia extract)
- juice concentrates (varies between different flavors)
- natural flavors (can come from anything)
- malic acid (flavoring agent)
- coffee fruit extract
- fruit and vegetable juice (for color)
- white tea extract
- citric acid (preservative/flavoring agent)
- ascorbic acid (basically, vitamin C)
- sodium citrate (preservative/flavoring agent)
It comes in an 18-ounce bottle (approx 540 ml); of this, 3-6% is fruit and vegetable juice as per the label. The rest of the 94%-97% liquid base is most likely filtered water, although this is not explicitly stated on the label. The 18-ounce bottle is labeled to be one serving.
Nutritional values of Bai are as follows:
- Total of 10 calories
- total sodium 10-15 mg ; less than 1% of the daily recommended dose
- potassium anywhere from 10-280 mg depending on the flavor sugar 1 gm
- erythritol 10 gm
- protein 0 gm
- fat 0 gm
- vitamin C ; 15% of the daily recommended dose
- caffeine 55 mg (comparable to a cup of green tea)
Vitamin C 13.5 mg, 100mg polyphenols and chlorogenic acid from coffee fruit extract, white tea extract.
Analysis of Bai's Ingredients
Upon closer examination of the label, the low calorie, potassium, sodium, and fat content are all positives for this drink. Since it is a vegan product, we can assume the "natural flavors" come from plant sources. The label also states that there are no artificial preservatives, which is again a good thing. It is gluten-free, low calorie, non-GMO, vegan, and soy-free. Additionally, it is a great source of antioxidants.
Bai's proprietary sweetener blend (erythritol, stevia extract)
Erythritol, is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are mostly derived from sugars like glucose but contain fewer calories when compared to sugar. Some are also naturally found in fruits and vegetables. They are structurally similar to sugar, thus rendering them capable of stimulating our sweet taste buds. Our body cannot digest erythritol and, therefore, does not process the calories as we would have with sugar. In terms of safety, it's a good and safe sweetener.
Stevia, on the other hand, is a plant found in South America that is also pretty safe. It has zero calories and is 250 to 300 times sweeter than regular sucrose. It is widespread and already being used as a sugar-free sweetener for people with diabetes and for people looking to reduce their sugar intake.
Coffee fruit extract
Coffee fruit is a small berry-like fruit that has coffee beans inside of it. It is quite a rich source of antioxidants. But that's not all; coffee fruit is great for brain health. Studies have suggested that coffee fruit significantly increases the levels of BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which plays an essential role in the growth and maturation of neurons and the formation of long-term memories.
White tea extract
White tea, derived from the tea plant, also has some great benefits. The polyphenols present in tea makes it a great source of antioxidants. It also helps prevent heart diseases, aids in weight loss, and even helps the immune system fight bacteria.
All of it looks good.
However, it is a bit disappointing that there is no mention of the actual amount of antioxidants per bottle. All that the manufacturer tells us is that the beverage is an "antioxidant beverage." According to the FDA, you can only put labels like "high," "rich in," or "excellent source of" on your product's label if the total content of that nutrient is >20% of the daily recommended dose (RDI). If it is not, manufacturers can use terms like "good source," "contains," or "provides" if the product contains 10-19% of the total daily recommended intake of that nutrient. None of these terms are used on the label today. What is on the label is that the drink is an "antioxidant infusion" and an"antioxidant beverage." Because there is no RDI for antioxidants specifically, we are left to review the RDIs for the antioxidant-containing nutrients included in the drink.
As we had stated above, one drink contains 15% of the RDI for vitamin C, but it also contains additional antioxidants from the tea and coffee fruit extracts that are used. Therefore, omitting this qualifier from the label could either be simply a missed opportunity by marketing or an indication that the antioxidants in the beverage are less than the required percentage.
Either way, Bai does seem to be a better choice when compared to other drinks; however, it may not be as good of a source of antioxidants as touted.
What Are the Side Effects If You Replace Your Water With Bai?
The consumption of Bai every day should not cause any acute side effects for the most part; however, it should be noted that it does contain a significant amount of caffeine. To be precise, one bottle contains 55 mg of caffeine, which is slightly more, although comparable, than a cup of tea (47 mg on average). So if you are sensitive to caffeine or have any kind of anxiety disorder, you might want to avoid drinking too much.
In general, 300 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe. Four bottles of Bai (i.e. 72 oz ) will equate to 220mg of caffeine; although this is still within the safe range, it is enough to agitate some people that are more sensitive to higher caffeine doses.
Apart from caffeine, erythritol may exhibit some unpleasant side effects. Even though it is generally safe, too much erythritol may cause diarrhea and bloating in some people. It is typically not advised to consume too many artificially sweetened drinks as it has been shown to increase sweet cravings, leaving you craving more Bai or other unhealthy sugary foods and drinks.
Additionally, replacing water with Bai may not be very budget friendly. You will have to invest a lot of money each month, considering you'll have to drink at least four bottles of Bai each day to complete your daily fluid requirement. This will be quite a bit more costly than drinking water instead.
Is Bai Antioxidant Infusion Safe to Drink While Pregnant?
Antioxidant consumption during pregnancy may result in healthier outcomes. One study showed that lower levels of antioxidants were seen in women who had a miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy, compared to higher antioxidant levels in their subsequent healthy pregnancies with live births.
However, too much caffeine may not be ideal for pregnant women. WHO recommends restricting your total caffeine intake (i.e., including caffeine from tea, coffee, and other beverages) to less than 300 mg during pregnancy in order to avoid miscarriage or low birth weight neonates.
In short, it is probably wise to limit your Bai intake during pregnancy to a maximum of 2 bottles per day to be safe.
Is Bai Safe for Diabetics?
Stevia contains zero calories and 90% of erythritol gets excreted from our body without having been absorbed. Because we don’t have an enzyme to break down erythritol, our body cannot digest it. This is good news for diabetics, as these sweeteners will not result in the sudden spike of blood glucose levels, which generally happens when other forms of dietary sugar are consumed.
Taking all the facts into account, Bai appears to be safe for diabetics.
Healthy Alternatives to Water and Bai
1. Tea: Any form of tea -- black, green, white, oolong -- will contain a good amount of antioxidants. Plus, when compared to Bai, tea would be more affordable. Additionally, this will enable you to adjust the sweetness to your liking (not everyone will want to drink something sweet all day long). Tea is generally considered safe. At higher doses, it may cause some side effects, like restlessness; to be safe, it is recommended to take no more than 4 cups of tea per day.
2. Fruit infused water: You can create your own flavored water at home with just a jar/bottle of water and your favorite fruit. You can cut up some of your preferred fruit and put it in a water container. Let it sit for a while to allow the natural juice of the fruits to dissolve and flavor the water. You can even prepare a whole jar at once and use it all day long! Some fruits that are great to work with are cucumbers, slices of lemon, slices of oranges, apples, berries, and even watermelons.
3. Coconut water is a healthy alternative, as well. Choose the unsweetened, natural coconut water for the best results.
4. Smoothies and juices: You can prepare smoothies and juices at home using your favorite vegetables and fruits. You can even put a small amount of commercially-produced juices in water to flavor it. If you go that route, you will be consuming less calories than you would have by drinking a full smoothie or juice drink, while still getting a hint of flavoring.
In conclusion, should you completely replace water with Bai? No! Despite how healthy it seems, it too has side effects that might not make it suitable to consume every day, especially in significant amounts. Instead of leaning towards one sweet drink, consider adding a few alternatives to fulfill your required fluid intake and mix things up a bit.
However, after analyzing its composition, it surely seems safe to drink moderate amounts.