Get The Facts: Drinking Water
Pretty much everything you drink is subject to some type of health controversy: milk, wine, beer, coffee, tea, and soda (diet or not). You might think just sticking to plain water would end all that. But then you come up against the question of what kind of water to drink? Tap, purified, spring, mineral, artesian, alkaline . . . the choices seem to be endless.
Our primary care doctors in Delray Beach know all the choices available can be confusing, so we’d like to help you understand the differences.
Benefits of water
Water is critical to life. Approximately 60 percent of your body weight is made up of water, and the blood is 90 percent water. Every cell in your body needs it to function. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and removes wastes and toxins. It helps digest food, keeps the eyes, nose, and mouth moist, and helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. Also, and not incidentally, it delivers oxygen throughout the body.
Other benefits that have been attributed to water include: helping to reduce your heart disease and diabetes risk; preventing kidney stones and urinary tract infections; mitigating various pains, helping with weight loss, including joint pain and migraines; and boosting exercise performance.
How much to drink
You may have heard the recommendation to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day, whether you’re thirsty or not. This is a good rule of thumb to help people remember to stay hydrated, but the 8/8 rule is not necessarily supported by science.
It turns out that no single formula will apply to every person. Some will require more, some less. It depends on the state of your overall health, how much exercise you perform and whether it takes place in hot or humid weather, or at high altitudes, which can induce dehydration. Pregnant or breast-feeding women also need more fluids, between 10-13 cups (2.4 liters to 3/1 liters) of water daily.
The best guide to how much you need to drink each day is thirst. If you feel thirsty, you need to drink. Urine color is another good indication: If your urine is dark yellow, you should drink enough to turn it light yellow or even clear.
What kind of water
What type of water is healthiest? Let’s look at each of them.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed a set of set of minimum standards on municipal water systems, but that doesn’t necessarily imply purity. The water system in Flint, Michigan, for example is still so contaminated that people have been drinking bottled water for more than two years. If you’re concerned about the quality of your water, you can filter it, either at the tap, or through a whole-house filtering system. Look for filters certified by NSF International.
When it comes to bottled water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it a food source, and has set strict standards as to its labeling.
This is water that has been treated to remove impurities. There are several different types of purified water, depending on how it has been treated. “Distilled” water has been produced by, as the name would suggest, distillation, “deionized” water by deionization, and “reverse osmosis” water by a process of reverse osmosis.
Spring water, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), must come from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
This is natural water that must contain not less than 250 parts per million (ppm) of naturally derived trace elements; that is, no minerals may be added after drawing it.
This is a name that is attached to drinking water, mineral water, spring water, etc., that has been treated and replaced with the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had when it emerged from its source.
This water has been tapped from a well that stands above an underground aquifer and is filtered through rocks and/or sand.
Alkaline water has been treated to produce a higher level of a pH, a pH 8 or 9, versus the normal pH of 7 in ordinary tap water. Alkaline water has been touted as providing special health benefits because it’s supposed to neutralize the acidity in your bloodstream. These claims remain unproven, and it’s worth noting that very high alkaline levels in the blood have been linked to gastrointestinal issues and skin irritation.
The question of which water to choose largely comes down to a matter of taste, cost, and convenience. So our best recommendation is simply to drink enough of any kind of water throughout the day so that you don’t feel thirsty and your urine is pale yellow or clear.