These long winter months always seem to bring along a nasty slew of side effects: creaky joints, lack of motivation, and of course, dry, itchy skin, dehydration, and breakouts. In an attempt to combat at least a couple of these, I decided to conduct a little experiment with my water intake. I started carrying a large water bottle with me everywhere- something we all should do anyway- and made a point of filling it at least three times every day. Within two weeks, my face cleared up, flakey dry skin disappeared, and I was happy to find myself less lethargic, newly energized and invigorated. I found myself looking in greater depth at my own hydration habits, and learning how to adapt them to let water work its magic. Here are some of the things I discovered: I. Filtered Water vs. Tap- is there really that big of a difference?
The difference between filtered water and tap water comes down to personal preference. Living in New York, we are spoiled by clean, delicious tap water, and the nutritive difference between the two types of water is very slight. When water is filtered, you’re looking to extract chlorine, which is responsible for that slight chemical taste that runs through tap water. In rare cases, Chlorine has been linked to colon and bladder cancer when consumed in high dosages, however it has been deemed safe to drink, and the amount that exists in our water is low enough that it shouldn’t negatively affect your health. It acts as an agent to get rid of unwanted bacteria as tap water flows through various plumbing situations on its journey to populated areas. In fact, according to the Daily Californian at UC Berkley, “In many cases, there are actually fewer bacteria in tap water than in most bottled waters.”
Additionally, companies like Brita also advertise the removal of heavier metals like lead and copper, which can get swept into your water supply from the plumbing as well. While the taste of filtered water is milder and more refreshing, it is also very important to change your Brita filter often, as Brita water filters do not actually kill the microorganisms, they simply trap them. If you stop changing your filter, it will stop working and be rendered useless.
II. How much do you really need?
I gen erally prefer to approach this question with my own essentially inconclusive answer: drink as much water as you can. Upon further investigation, I have stumbled across some helpful answers that are less abstract. In his article for the health section of U.S. News, Yuri Elkaim (holistic nutritionist, high-performance fitness expert and former University soccer coach), outlines a system for putting a number on your water intake. He suggests that “the first thing you need to do is calculate how much water your body needs at rest. That's working at a desk, puttering around the house, reading and doing all of the other things you do throughout the day. This is your bare minimum water requirement – what your body needs to function. The basic equation for determining this is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need 100 ounces of water per day if you're not doing anything strenuous. If you're working out, hiking, at a high altitude or outdoors a great deal, you're going to need to add to those 100 ounces.”
III. Sparkling vs. Still- do you lose any hydration benefits by drinking sparkling water? What’s the difference, really? Should we throw away that SodaStream?
The answer, in short, is no. I developed a minor obsession with sparkling water last year when my roommate bought a SodaStream, so naturally I felt the need to convince myself that drinking carbonated water is just as productive as drinking still water. Upon further investigation, I thankfully concluded that my favorite hydrating beverage is just as nutritionally beneficial as its cousin. Literally the only difference is added carbonation, which comes with a side of myths that have less than substantial proof. In a health article from NY Daily News, writer Tracy Miller sought confirmation from various medical professionals. “Kristi King, MPH, RDN, a senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, agreed. ‘There's a myth out there about [carbonation] leaching calcium from the bones, especially with sodas, but the research is just not there,’ King said. The same goes for eroding tooth enamel: ‘usually any tooth erosion comes from beverages that are sugar-sweetened in conjunction with carbonation, which tend to be highly acidic. Carbonated water is not going to be nearly as acidic,’ King said.”
So as you reach for that warm coffee this winter, try to balance it out with a few glasses of water- tap, filtered, sparkling- whatever your preference! Stay hydrated and keep your body running as efficiently and proficiently as possible. Cheers!
Photo 1 by Gwarf: http://weandthecolor.com/breathtaking-underwater-photography-by-gwarf/7445 Photo 2: Soma Water Filter. Photo 3: Glass Faucet Sculpture by Gary Guydosh. Photo 4: http://icewhiteuk.wordpress.com/
By Mallory Rosenthal