Life began in water. Water covers 71% of our planet’s surface. Our bodies are composed of about 60% water. We sweat it out, pee it out, poop it out and even breathe it out, so we have a constant demand to replenish water. Depending on conditions, we can survive between a few hours to a week without water. It is ubiquitous, and yet, in such high demand.
We have a high demand for water, but much of the water available to us could make us sick. Ground water and lake or stream water can become contaminated causing illness or even death. So it becomes necessary to sanitize the water we drink. However, the chemicals used to sanitize it, usually chlorine, can accumulate over time and possibly cause health issues. Our water can also accumulate metals and chemicals that seep into the soil or wind up in our plumbing, making it harmful.
For many years, the popular choice for drinking water has been bottled water. As it turns out, most bottled water is not much different from tap water. Another disturbing newsflash is that disposable plastic water bottles have become a tremendous environmental hazard, piling up in landfills, oceans and shorelines around the world. And remember that plastic is toxic as it degrades, and will seep into the water it contains, transforming the water into a hormone disruptor and carcinogen.
What to do?? It is actually not an easy answer, but your best bet is filtered water from your own faucet. What kind of filter to use? Well, any filter is better than none, so make sure you at least use one of the water pitcher filters available in stores, or a filter unit that attaches to your faucet. A whole house water filter is the best, but not always affordable or practical.
There is a lot of information online about water filtration systems, so my advice is to read reviews and choose the best one for your situation. If you use a reverse osmosis system, remember to take a mineral supplement to replace the important minerals the filter will remove from your water.
Just as important as filtration is what you use to store and carry your water in. Don’t use plastic containers regardless of whether they state, “BPA-free” or not. Use glass, stainless steel, ceramic or silicon containers. These materials will not leach into the water over time or when heated.
If you are around my age, you remember the days before everyone started carrying around bottles of water or worrying about how much water they drank. People just drank when they were thirsty. So why do we need so much water today? There are actually some valid reasons.
First of all, our chemical exposure is much higher and our body needs water to wash out these toxins. Additionally, if you eat a diet high in processed foods, you are not getting water from your food, like you would from fresh fruits and vegetables. Add to that, our focus on anti-aging. As we live longer, keeping ourselves hydrated is essential to keeping our body tissues supple and healthy.
A final important point is that stress increases our need for more water. Without getting too deep into anatomy and physiology, this is due the function of your stress glands, the adrenal glands, and the role of certain hormones and minerals in the management of stress. We simply use more water when under stress.
As to how much water you need to drink, the general recommendation is ½ oz. per pound of body weight. In other words, if you weigh 150 lbs. you need 75 oz. or over 2 quarts of water per day. That’s a lot of water! So unless you are keeping track, you are probably not drinking enough. If you are sweating a lot, add more.
The next common question is whether coffee, tea and alcohol count as water intake. Anything containing water counts as water intake. That said, some of these liquids can cause increased processing by the kidneys, meaning you are peeing the water out a little faster. This can result in mild dehydration with alcohol and coffee. Your body always tries to balance itself and can compensate with water absorption in other ways, such as through the colon, so the dehydrating effects are not as detrimental as some of the warnings you hear. But it may be a good idea to add in a little more water if you are counting coffee and alcohol in your water totals.
As far as sodas and other chemical and sugar-laden drinks go, they have so many negative health effects, I discourage their use all together, and don’t discuss them as a means to hydrate. In case that is not enough rules and “don’ts” for you, it is also important not to drink lots of water at mealtime. This tends to dilute your stomach acids and decrease your stomach’s ability to break down your food properly. Best to drink water between meals.
Some people ask me about how to find out about their water quality. If you are on city or county water, you can go to your governmental web site, where they will have a water quality report each year. If you are on a well, there are many labs offering to test your water by sending a kit through the mail. Do a search and look for customer reviews before choosing which lab to use.
Hopefully I have answered some of your overflowing questions about drinking water. But if I missed some, feel free to email me or ask a question on my Facebook page so that others can benefit from the information. Ahoy mates!