Water is essential to life. About 70 percent of the human body is made up of water and, coincidentally, more than 70 percent of Earth is covered in water.
You can survive for 30-45 days without food, but you will only live for 3-4 days unless you consume water.
It is recommended you consume 4-8 cups of water per day; how much of that you need depends on your activity, temperature, and the quantity of vegetables and fruits you consume—fresh produce is an excellent source of hydration.
The best indication of hydration is NOT how much you drink, but the color of your urine. Ideally, your urine should be clear, not light yellow, and not dark yellow. (Although some supplements with extra riboflavin make the urine bright florescent yellow, so you may need to skip your supplement for a day to assess your hydration status.) The darker the color of your urine, the more dehydrated you are.
Waiting until you feel thirsty is too late, as thirst is a delayed sign of dehydration. The body functions best when you are fully hydrated. Notice how diligently athletes hydrate to ensure maximum physical performance.
Hydration is especially important for people with a history of kidney stones as concentrated urine has crystals that may produce stones, and keeping the urine diluted is the best way to avoid future stones.
Consuming some fluids such as alcohol, sodas, coffee, and tea, only provides limited net hydration because they increase urination— sadly, this is all some people drink. Drinking pure water is the best way to hydrate. Herbal infusions are another excellent source of hydration.
Obtaining pure water has become more complicated. Public water supplies are treated to kill microbes that can make us sick, which is not a bad thing, but water contamination and bad city plumbing can cause major problems. As we have heard from Flint, Michigan, some public water systems are also contaminated with harmful chemical compounds. Sadly, Flint was not a unique situation and many public water systems nationwide are contaminated.
Drinking water from plastic bottles is highly problematic. Plastic bottles leak phthalates into the water—a toxic compound that is an endocrine disrupter. In the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development, and male fertility issues.
Let alone that all that plastic ends up polluting the environment!
I am not worried if someone on occasion drinks water from a plastic bottle, but some people drink several plastic bottles every day, which would provide very high levels of phthalates.
If you buy water in a bottle, it should come in glass. The challenge is that drinking bottled water in glass is more expensive, and is rarely available.
At home, the most economical and healthy source of drinking water comes from reverse osmosis. The public water supply can be pumped under pressure through a membrane, producing very pure water (chemical-free). At our home and sailboat, we have a Reverse Osmosis water maker to produce water. It tastes much better than tap water too.
Filling a stainless steel water bottle (preferably not a plastic bottle) provides a useful way to carry water from home when you are out and about.
There are a variety of other filtration devices using carbon and ceramic filters, but clearly, the best source of home water is produced using reverse osmosis. A reverse osmosis unit can be installed under your kitchen sink and provide drinking and cooking water for your home. There are even countertop models that are now available. The cost to install a reverse osmosis unit in your home may vary from $200-$500, which is expensive upfront, but actually cheaper than drinking bottled water long term.
I recently received an article discussing reverse osmosis water production. The source of the article, WaterTechAdvice.com had nothing to sell but had very detailed information on reverse osmosis systems, which I thought was refreshing. Please click here to see more information on reverse osmosis.
I highly recommend that you hydrate with pure water daily, either drinking water from a glass bottle or from water produced through reverse osmosis.
I wish you the best of health!
Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS
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