We're in the heat of summer, and hopefully we're all drinking plenty of water...but do you drink a lot of bottled water? Well, you aren't alone. Americans drink billions of gallons of the stuff every year - 8 billion in 2009 alone! We choose to drink bottled water for many reasons: convenience, health, safety, taste and what-have-you – and why not? It's a great alternative tosweetened beverages like soda and iced tea, both drinks that contribute greatly to growing public health issues as well as our growing waistlines. But is bottled water better than tap? Is BPA in plastic bottles truly harmful to our health? How much water do we even need to drink?? These answers and more you'll find in this week's action packed Red Rabbit blog!
How much water should I be drinking in a day?
Common belief dictates that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day, which is sort of true, albeit with a pint-sized caveat: the water in our food counts. That's right, much of the water we need each day is provided by the food we eat! This recommendation originates with the Food and Nutrition Board, who more specifically stated the need as "1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food.” Put in these terms, it is easier to understand that the recommendation is to ingest 8 glasses’ worth of water, not necessarily drink it.
Want to avoid doing the math? Believe it or not, our urine is a great indicator of just how hydrated we are! It should always be light yellow to nearly clear, never dark. Tell the kids it should look like lemonade, not apple juice!
Is tap water safe?
The official answer here is yes. While Americans' tap water comes from lots of different places, introducing many a variable, it is all subject to the same regulation and testing. Under the jurisdiction of the EPA, tap water is routinely tested in certified laboratories for contaminants. In addition, public water providers are required to provide documentation to customers that includes regulation compliance, water source, as well as reports on contaminants. Say what you will about your tap water – at least we know where it comes from and what is in it. Can we say that about bottled water?
So is bottled water really any better than tap water?
Bottled water is regulated by the FDA, as it is considered a food product as opposed to a public utility like tap water. As such, the rules regarding bottled water are different in important ways. The FDA cannot enforce the testing of bottled water in certified labs, require bottlers to disclose water sources, or procure contaminant documentation. In short, we do not know enough about our bottled water. It's a running joke that bottled water is often just treated tap water (which is true), but does that really sound so bad?
What about the bottles themselves?
We've likely all heard something about BPA at this point. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used in the production of the hard plastic polycarbonate used for everyday products such as CD's, appliances, tableware, can liners, and, of course, bottles used for water and other beverages. The traditional stance on BPA is that it is safe in small doses; however, the FDA itself has admitted concern over possible negative effects on the brain and other body parts we need, particularly in young children. As more testing is done, the FDA promises to take reasonable action to reduce the public's exposure to BPA, and we should expect to see more and more "BPA-Free" labels on products in the future. Unfortunately, even BPA-free plastic products may be leeching harmful chemicals into our drinks, particularly when exposed to the sun.
What's more convenient than bottled water?
What's more convenient than bottled water? Well, bottled water of course! Home bottled water that is. Popularity of reusable water bottles is growing, and they can be just as convenient as their one-time-use cousins. They can be purchased in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so you're sure to find one that gets your kids excited. It pays off to have a spare in the fridge, ready to go, just as you would with regular bottled water. While researchers are still figuring out what plastic is and is not safe, opt for stainless steel.
John Bashant, Red Rabbit Nutrition Compliance Coordinator