The science is clear: Staying hydrated and drinking enough water has health benefits.
Hydration can help lubricate and cushion joints, protect sensitive tissues in your body, flush out waste and keep your immune system and even your skin healthy.
Yet when it comes to bottled water, there are several types on the market: spring, purified, mineral, artesian and even alkaline. Is any type best?
It turns out that might come down to personal preference, as more research seems to be needed for a definitive answer.
“For the price, I’m going to get spring water,” said Dr. Eddie Fatakhov, a physician and nutritionist at the Center for Internal and Integrative Medicine in Alpharetta, Georgia. “Because I know it came from the spring.”
Spring, purified, mineral, artesian: What’s the difference?\
Spring water comes from an underground source and must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the spring’s source, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
The association defines purified water as water that has been highly treated – through distillation, deionization or other suitable processes – in order to meet certain standards before being sold.
Mineral water is natural water that has a constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements – containing no less than 250 parts per million total of dissolved solids, according to the water association. No minerals can be added to it.
Then there’s artesian water, which is derived from a well that taps a specific layer of rock or sand.
You also might have seen alkaline water on store shelves; it has a higher pH level than tap water. A pH level is a measure of how acidic or basic water is. Seven is a neutral pH. Higher pH levels are more alkaline, or basic; lower pH levels are more acidic.
“Tap water has a pH of roughly around 7, and alkaline water is closer to about 8 or 9,” Malina Malkani, a registered dietician nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CNN in January.
Could alkaline water provide any special health benefits? “There’s really not a lot of evidence either supporting of the health claims that are made about alkaline water or refuting the claims,” Malkani said.
In other words, the jury is still out.
Malkani noted that “if all the body systems are functioning as they should be, the blood pH isn’t going to vary too much. So it’s a misconception that you can, by drinking an alkaline water, drastically affect the pH of the body.”
Illnesses are common causes for changes in the blood pH level. Diabetes can make your blood more acidic, but kidney problems can make it more alkaline. Certain foods, including dairy products, also can make your blood more acidic.
It is more common for companies to manufacture alkaline water, but natural alkaline water can occur when water picks up minerals from areas such as springs, when it passes over rocks in the environment.
“Alkaline compounds are salts and metals that, when added to water, make it more basic,” Malkani said.
All in all, the general consensus among health experts for now is that making sure you are drinking enough water is more important than the type of water you prefer.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that men drink an average of about 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water each day and that women drink about 2.7 liters (91 ounces). That water can come from beverages and foods, according to the recommendations.
So, for men and women respectively, “that’s 15 cups of water and 11 cups of water, from the eight cups we were taught to believe,” Fatakhov said.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic, which noted that the Office on Women’s Health recommends that women who breastfeed consume about 13 cups of fluids a day.
“North America is dehydrated,” Fatakhov said, and that’s a problem because “83% of your lungs is water. If you take the heart and the brain, 73% is water. If you take the bones, about 31% is water. If you take the kidneys and muscles, about 76% is water. Your body is made up of water.”
‘Water boosts energy’
Water not only benefits your health, it could help you control your weight.
A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2016 found a significant association between not being adequately hydrated and having an elevated body mass index, known as BMI.
BMI is determined based on a person’s height and weight. Having a BMI of 30 or higher is categorized as obese.
The study was based on data from 9,528 people ages 18 to 64, whose levels of hydration were measured in urine samples. Those whose samples showed inadequate hydration tended to have higher BMIs and higher odds of being obese, compared with the hydrated adults.
Water can benefit weight management because staying hydrated helps you better understand when you are actually hungry, and it can boost your metabolism and energy.
“Because of our high water content, it makes sense that our bodies need water to keep our systems functioning. So the next time you hit that afternoon slump, drink a glass of water to increase your energy levels,” Fatakhov said.
“Think about it like this: I tell you to drink water, and you drink water. Your body has to convert that water back to your body temperature. So if you drink cold water, your body has to turn it back to body temperature,” he said. “That’s why they say it’s better to drink cold water than hot water if you’re trying to burn calories.”
If you think you’re not drinking enough water, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some tips:
=> Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day for easy access to water.
=> Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, even when eating out.
=> Add a wedge of lime or lemon to water to help improve taste.
=> Try chilling freezer-safe water bottles for easy access to ice-cold water throughout the day.
Top Ten Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation
There are many reasons to oppose water fluoridation, including safety concerns and health risks.
Vegetables With The Most Water Content
Although most of our bodies are made of water, we still need a lot of it to survive on a daily basis. You probably have heard the story that you have to drink eight glasses (or more) of water per day in order to stay hydrated.
This is partly true if you do not take water in any other forms. In fact, 20% of your daily water intake comes from solid food, mostly fruits and vegetables. That’s why you should “eat your water” instead. Water maintains homeostasis in our bodies and it is of utmost importance that we stay hydrated.
Water deficiency is called dehydration and can cause serious headaches, confusion, appetite loss, excessive tiredness and even seizures. It is also bad for you to consume water in excess. You might experience nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps.
The U.S. Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) of water is 3.7 liters (15.6 cups) daily for men and 2.7 liters (11.4 cups) for women. In the summer or in some extreme cases, these numbers are higher. Vegetables are an excellent source of water in every season and they often contain more than 90% water. Quench your thirst with these vegetables:
Water content: 96.7%
Cucumber is many people’s summer favorite veggie. It contains the most water of any solid food and you may use it sliced in salads or with hummus. There are also many recipes on how to get hydrated with cucumber. You can try to blend it with mint, nonfat yogurt, and ice cubes to get a good chilled soup for the hot summer days, or at any time of the year.
Water content: 95.6%
Although not so popular among health experts, this vegetable is full of water. It is not a favorite one because of other green vegetables such as romaine lettuce or spinach, which contain a lot more fiber than iceberg lettuce. However, if you want to get hydrated, this crispy lettuce is the best choice because of the high amount of water. You can use it for making sandwiches, as a tacos wrap, or in burgers.
Water content: 95.4%
You must have heard the popular saying that celery has negative calories, but let’s see what you are up for with this vegetable. It is a fact that celery comes with only 6 calories in one stalk and it is also full of fiber. In terms of its nutritional value, it contains folate as well as many vitamins, including A, C, and K. Celery can help in neutralizing stomach acid and relieve heartburn or reflux.
Water content: 95.3%
If you are a fan of a mixture of spicy and sweet taste in your spring and summer salads, radishes can brighten up your day and give you a new colorful meal. These vegetables are full of antioxidants including catechin (which can also be found in green tea). If you would like a crunchy hydration recipe, mix radishes with summer coleslaw, slicing them up with cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped parsley and hazelnuts. Then use poppy seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and add salt and pepper. Enjoy this beautiful mixture!
Water content: 94.5%
These vegetables are mostly used for making salads and sandwiches, but it is important to use all of the varieties, including sweet cherry and grape ones, which will help you in the hydration process. You can also mix them with nuts as a snack or some cheese low in sodium. One idea of a recipe is the following: skewer some grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves on toothpicks as appetizers or snacks.
Water content: 93.3%
These types of bell peppers have the highest amount of water and contain many antioxidants as the other types of peppers, such as the red and sweet ones. Peppers are great to use as a snack when you have a craving, instead of falling for something sweet and unhealthy. Plus, you will get hydrated and feel refreshed.
Water content: 92.1%
This white flower-looking vegetable is full of vitamins and phytonutrients that help in fighting cancer, including breast cancer, and lowering cholesterol. Cauliflower is best used in your favorite salad, in order to make it crunchy and get hydrated.
Water content: 91.4%
Spinach is both green and full of water – a really healthy treat for your body. You can put it in your sandwiches or salads and enjoy its taste. Spinach is not only hydrating but also rich in lutein, fiber, potassium, and brain-boosting folate. One cup raw leaves of spinach can satisfy your daily intake of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals (damaging molecules).
Fruits with Highest Water Content
Water is as important as oxygen to lead a healthy life. Your body cannot function properly without enough water, which comprises 60 percent of your body weight. Water plays many crucial roles in the body, from detoxification to absorption of nutrients.
Health experts recommend drinking water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated. However, water is not the only way to keep the body hydrated.
Eating more water-rich fruits has other health benefits, too. Such fruits are low in calories and help with weight loss. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber that are important for good health. Water-rich fruits also help flush waste and toxins out of the body.
Aim to eat water-rich fruits with about 85 percent or higher water content. You can eat the fruits raw, or make smoothies or juices.
Eat 2 cups of fruits per day to provide your body with fluids.
Water content: 92%
Watermelon is one of the most water-rich fruits you can eat. It contains essential rehydration salts – calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium – that help keep the body hydrated and largely reduce the chance of dehydration.
According to a 2009 study by University of Aberdeen Medical School researchers, watermelon helps hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water after an intense workout.
In addition, watermelon is a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and lycopene, which keep your body fit and healthy. Lycopene also protects the body from ultraviolet (UV) light.
You can eat watermelon as it is, or add it to your fruit salads and smoothies. You can even keep a water pitcher in the refrigerator with watermelon cubes in the bottom.
Water content: 92%
All berries are good foods for hydration, but strawberries are the best with 92 percent water. They also contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folic acid. The fiber in strawberries has a satiating effect, keeping you feeling full so you do not indulge in unnecessary snacking.
In addition, these berries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. Strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits, from anti-aging effects to supporting cardiovascular health.
Adults as well as children like their sweet, slightly tart flavor. Eat a handful of ripe strawberries daily as a healthy snack. You can also blend a few strawberries in your favorite smoothie.
In addition to strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries also have a high water content.
Water content: 91%
This juicy, tangy fruit is also one of the most hydrating fruits with 91 percent water content. Grapefruit also contains important electrolytes that help prevent dehydration.
It is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C, and contains smaller amounts of vitamins A, B-complex, E and K. It also has calcium, folate, phosphorus, potassium and several phytonutrients.
Regular intake of grapefruit can lower your insulin level, help control your appetite, protect against the common cold, aid in weight loss, make your skin beautiful and lots more.
Try eating half a grapefruit at breakfast or drink a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice daily.
Note: This fruit may interact with certain medications like blood pressure medications and may not be suitable for women with hormone sensitive conditions.
Water content: 90%
Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon or mush melon, is another high water content fruit with 90 percent water.
Cantaloupe also contains potassium, an important electrolyte that can be lost during sweating and cause dehydration. Other vital nutrients found in cantaloupe are vitamins A, C and K, protein, fiber, folate, calcium and iron.
Regular intake of cantaloupe reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while promoting healthy skin and hair. It also provides protection against a range of diseases and conditions from the common cold to cancer.
You can add some ice to fresh-squeezed cantaloupe juice for a refreshing drink in the summer. You can also use cantaloupe to make delicious cold soup or tasty smoothies.
Water content: 88%
Peaches contain about 88 percent water content, making them a great solution to beat dehydration. Fresh peaches are juicy and taste great. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various other chemical contents.
Peaches contain vitamins A, C and K as well as fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
At the same time, they are low in calories and contain no saturated fats. Peaches help fight obesity and prevent related diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
You can muddle ripe peaches into your glass of lemonade, iced tea or water to make a refreshing drink. Another option is to add sliced peaches to your oatmeal, yogurt and cold cereals.
Water content: 87%
Pineapple is another fruit with high water content. It has 87 percent water. It is a powerhouse of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, thiamin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, folate and fiber.
Pineapple also contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain that has many health benefits. Additionally, it is low in sodium and fat.
This fruit is both juicy and fleshy that helps keep your body hydrated and cleanses your body to get rid of harmful toxins. Moreover, pineapple boosts your immune system, improves digestion, promotes eye health and makes your bones strong.
You can have fresh pineapple juice or make yummy pineapple popsicles during the hot summer. You can also enjoy it as a fruit snack or add it to fruit salad, stir-fry and soups.
Big changes like cutting out all carbs or training for a marathon are great—but you don’t have to remake yourself to have a dramatic impact on your health. Try a few of these baby steps to get you started in the right direction.
Add a fruit or veggie to every meal
Not ready to give up a bad habit yet? Start by creating an easy good-for-you habit instead. “Less than one in three individuals gets even two servings of fruits and vegetables per day,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “By adding one serving to each meal, you can get in at least three servings per day and be ahead of the curve. A half of a banana on your breakfast cereal, a small side salad with your sandwich at lunch, and adding 1/2 cup of cooked veggies into your pasta can pack in more fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients—all which have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.”
Work on your hips
“If you have a sedentary job, focus on some hip opening exercises to start and end your day,” suggests trainer Jonathan Hertilus, ACE, owner of BFF Bootcamp in Nutley, NJ. “For instance,” says Hertilus, “hip bridges can be done anywhere—even in bed—as soon as you wake up or right before you go to sleep.” Just a few minutes of hip exercises can do wonders to keep your back and core muscles engaged.
Lose a little weight
Setting a goal to lose 40 pounds or more to get out of the “overweight” category can be daunting. So aim for smaller, more attainable goals, which can make a big difference in your overall health. “Small steps can be very powerful,” says Jill Crandall, MD, professor of endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an attending physician at Montefiore Health System.” For people who are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which includes many adults who are overweight and have a family history of diabetes, modest changes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50 percent.” Dr. Crandall suggests focusing on losing about 7 percent of your overall weight—or about 15 pounds for a 200-pound person.
Lighten your load
Cleaning out your purse or backpack could go a long way toward preventing neck, back, and shoulder pain. When you are carrying things, balance your load, and avoid backpacks or purses with more than 10 percent of your body weight,” suggests Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, a chiropractor in Griffin, Georgia.
Be careful with condiments
You might want to take a second to consider before you slather your next salad in ranch dressing. “Ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo, and salad dressings can all be a major source of calories, sodium, fat, and added sugar,” says Palinski-Wade. “Opt for condiments on the side, rather than on your meal and read those labels!”
Skimp on the sugar—and pump up your probiotics
More and more studies show that sugar wreaks havoc on your health, including slowing your metabolism, impairing brain function, and increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer. But there are other health issues you can keep at bay with a little less sugar and a little more healthy bacteria. “Decreasing intake of sugar and processed food as well as taking probiotics can help decrease yeast infections,” says Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, OB/GYN, director of minimally invasive gynecology at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Straighten up your sleep habits
A bad sleep posture could make for more aches and pains when you’re awake. “Most of us don’t really think much about posture while we are asleep—but really, posture while you are asleep is at least as important as when you are awake because the muscles that protect your joints are quite loose while you are asleep,” says Dr. Hayden. “I recommend sleeping in a side posture whenever possible. Make sure your pillow is firm and just high enough to keep your head level with the mattress so that your head is neither pushed up nor down. Use a body pillow to hug, throwing your upper arm and upper knee over the pillow so that the pillow supports the weight of the extremities while you are asleep. This prevents you from inducing torque into the lumbar spine and offloads the weight of the upper extremity from the structures at the base of the neck. This simple approach to rest keeps your body straight and as stress free as possible while you catch those zzzs.”
Drink half your weight in water
We should all be drinking more water, but the old saw about eight glasses of eight ounces of water doesn’t work for everybody. The better formula? “Take your weight in pounds and divide by two, and you will get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day,” says Mitzi Dulan, RD, founder of simplyFUEL. “Start your day with a big glass of ice water. Ice cold water can boost your metabolism slightly because it takes energy for your body to get it to room temperature—drink six glasses of 16 ounces of cold water and burn an extra 100 calories per day.”
Stop the midnight snacking
“Avoid eating after 8 p.m.,” says Dulan. “Often times, late-night eating is really boredom eating. This helps your body focus on burning the fat during the night instead of trying to work to digest the food you just ate before nodding off.”
Shut off your electronics an hour before bedtime
Those last hours before bed may seem like the perfect time to catch up on some work or binge watch a little of your favorite show, but experts say that the light emanating from your screens could be disrupting your sleep. That wavelength of light disrupts melatonin production, and tricks your body into thinking it’s daylight, according to Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. The fix? Skip the screens and tuck into a good book, do relaxed stretching, or find another way to unwind in the last hour before your bedtime.
Trade refined carbs for whole grains
“Most people eat plenty of grains, but most Americans consume only one serving of whole grains per day,” says Palinski-Wade. “By swapping out a few refined grains for whole grains, you may reduce your waist circumference and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you use white bread for a sandwich, switch to rye. If you like rice, opt for brown rice over white rice. A simple switch can add up significantly.”
Take breaks when you’re traveling
Whether you travel by car or plane, taking frequent breaks to walk and stretch is essential. When flying by air, it can reduce your risk of developing a dangerous blood clot in your leg, called a deep vein thrombosis. “I coach our patients who are driving long-distance to get out of the vehicle periodically and walk around it a few laps,” Dr. Hayden says. “Find a bumper that is the right height to put one foot on it. Step back about two feet, square the pelvis, and lean toward the foot that is on the bumper. This has the effect of a hurdler’s stretch, and it will help stretch those gluteals on which you have been sitting as well as the quadriceps and many of the extensor muscles in the back. Always stretch both sides—if you leave one side tight, you may find yourself walking in circles!”
Cut down on the cocktails
Those studies that show red wine’s positive health benefits may encourage us to raise a few more glasses, but there are really good reasons to limit your alcohol intake, including increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and obesity. Cutting back on the booze can decrease the risk of many different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, according to Dr. Shepherd. For women, one drink a day seems to be the healthy max, while men can have two.
“Everyone asks me to recommend one exercise that everyone can do to improve their overall health,” says Pat McGuinness, personal trainer at the MAX Challenge in Montclair, NJ, and regional director of programming for New York Sports Clubs. “My answer is always squats! Everyone can do them—modifications are easy—and leg muscles make up more than 60 percent of our total body composition, which means you get more bang for your buck!”
Walk for five minutes every hour at work
Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health. If you can’t get a standing desk to help you limit your time on your seat, make sure you take a five-minute walk break every hour. That can help you minimize the impact of sitting on your health, and ensure you get even more than the doctor-recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. That can help you reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Crandall.
Swap soda for fruit-spiked water
Whether it’s diet or sugar-filled, study after study shows that soda isn’t the best beverage—unless you want to gain weight, increase your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, or heart disease, and reduce your bone density. But you don’t have to sacrifice flavor if you give up your soda. “Infuse water with fruit for a tasty alternative that’s sure to impress and refresh,” says McGuinness.
Celebrities and naturopaths won’t start their day without guzzling a glass of lemon water. Here’s what this a.m. habit can and can’t do for your health.
Lemon water may help you lose weight
Lemon water may be a dieter’s best friend. “The polyphenols in lemon may aid in reducing appetite,” registered dietician Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. Rodent studies have shown that the polyphenols in lemon do help to prevent weight gain. Plus, she adds, “when you drink a glass of water, especially before a meal, this helps to fill your stomach, offsetting the amount of food needed to feel satisfied.” Lemon-flavored water is also a healthy option to replace your morning glass of orange juice—think of all the calories saved! To make lemon water, use whole lemons (not lemon juice in a bottle). “Try squeezing the juice from one lemon into 8 to 12 ounces of water,” Palinski-Wade says. You can also grate in a bit of the zest (just wash the lemon first). “Enjoy it cold or warm, but if you will be having it to promote weight loss, drink it chilled with ice,” she says.
It helps keep you from getting sick
We’ve all heard that vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits like lemon, gives your immune system a boost (more on vitamin C later). But one of the benefits of lemon water is helping to prevent infection. “Certainly the acidic environment in the stomach serves as a barrier, deterring pathogens from gaining a foothold and causing illness,” says Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise. “Ingestion of highly acidic foods, including lemon juice, contributes to the acidic environment.” According to The Cleveland Clinic, chemicals in lemon known as phytonutrients have antioxidant properties that can also help protect the body from disease.
It aids digestion
Another one of the benefits of lemon water is that the acids help to digest food. “The citrus flavonoids in lemon aid the acid in the stomach in breaking down food, which may improve overall digestion,” says Palinski-Wade. “Warming the water seems to provide the greatest digestive benefits.” Aiding digestion is especially important as we get older because the amount of acid in our stomach declines with age. One study showed that over 30 percent of men and women over age 60 had atrophic gastritis, a condition marked by little to no stomach acid. In addition, if you add lemon slices and zest to your water, you may be able to harness some of the benefits of pectin, a fiber found in the pulp and peel. Many studies have shown fiber to improve digestion and gut health.
Lemon water gives you a vitamin C boost
Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a fourth of a cup of lemon juice yields 23.6 mg of vitamin C, about a third of the recommended daily allowance for women and a fourth for men. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells against free radicals, and according to the National Institutes of Health, this could even help protect us again cardiovascular disease and cancer. And although we don’t think much about this ailment anymore, “vitamin C prevents scurvy, a disease of weakened connective tissue that results in bleeding gums, among other symptoms,” says Dr. Sukol. Connective tissue is also crucial for wound healing.
It keeps you hydrated
Hydration is not a direct benefit of the lemon properties themselves, but rather, drinking flavored water might entice you to consume more of it. “Fluids, in general, provide hydration, however, some people struggle to drink an adequate amount of water per day simply because they find water boring or do not enjoy the taste,” Palinski-Wade says. “Adding lemon to water can enhance the taste, making it more appealing to some, helping them to drink more and improve hydration.” Although the old rule was to drink eight 8-ounce glasses a day, nutritionists now recognize that the amount will vary based on what you weigh, how active you are, and where you live. One test to make sure you’re getting enough? Your pee should be nearly clear—if it’s yellow or dark, you need to drink more.
It may help you look younger
The vitamin C in lemon juice might actually help your skin as well, definitely one of the benefits of lemon water. One study from the U.K. showed that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with fewer wrinkles. “Because vitamin C is a nutrient that can fight off free-radical damage, it can protect skin,” Palinski-Wade says. This could be due to vitamin C’s effects on collagen, which helps make up the connective tissue under the skin. “In addition, the hydration from the water helps skin stay more subtle and provides a more youthful appearance,” she adds. Your skin is an organ, and hydration helps it function at its best.
It may help liver function
Another one of the benefits of lemon water is helping your liver to do a better job being the body’s filter. “Boosting overall hydration can help to improve the function of all organs in the body, including the liver,” Palinski-Wade says. “In addition, animal studies have found that the citrus flavonoids in lemon may protect the liver against toxins and reduce fat in the liver, protecting against fatty liver disease.” Your liver is the body’s natural mechanism for flushing out toxins; so although claims of “detoxification” from lemon juice aren’t exactly proven, helping the liver to work better could benefit your body.
It increases your potassium levels
We generally associate potassium with bananas, but it turns out lemons are a good source as well. “Potassium is found in large amounts primarily in fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Sukol says. “It is an element that is essential for cell function and metabolism, transmission of nerve signals.” According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium, an electrolyte, helps to conduct electricity throughout the body. This nerve-muscle communication helps skeletal-muscular function—which is why you need it when you get a Charlie horse. (Here’s why you might want to skip lemon water at a restaurant, though.)
It makes you more regular
Along with helping your gut and liver, lemon-flavored water can be part of a healthy way to help you go to the bathroom. “Increasing fluid intake can help to promote regular bowel movements,” Palinski-Wade says. ” If adding lemon to your water helps you to drink more fluid throughout the day, this may help you to become more regular.” And although lemon juice doesn’t provide much fiber, getting in pulp and zest from the peel could help boost the fiber content, which helps you go as well.
It helps prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones often develop as a result of dehydration, so one of the benefits of lemon water is that it helps flush out your kidneys and prevent these painful deposits. “Some kidney stones result from precipitation of calcium salts,” Dr. Sukol says. “Acidification of the aqueous—or watery—environment in which this occurs is thought to reduce the likelihood of precipitation, and therefore prevent the formation of some stones. Purely a chemical reaction.” So in other words, the acid from the lemon can help keep the stones from coming together. Although lemon-flavored water is thought to be a diuretic, this hasn’t been proven—rather, increased urination is likely the result of drinking more fluid. Either way, it’s helpful for keeping kidney stones at bay.
It freshens breath
When it comes to personal hygiene, it may help your mouth smell cleaner. “The citrus in lemon water may help to reduce the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which may lead to fresher breathe,” Palinski-Wade says. The only problem is that the acid in lemon juice could, over time, erode the enamel of your teeth. Try drinking it through a straw to reduce exposure to your chompers.
It may boost metabolism
Lemon water is a great addition to your morning routine because it could jump-start your metabolism, helping you keep a healthy weight and be active. “Staying hydrated and drinking ice-cold water has been shown to provide a metabolism boost,” Palinski-Wade says. “Aim to drink at least three cups per day to help fire up your metabolism while providing a feeling of fullness that may help you to eat less.” Drinking your lemon-flavored water cold could have even more of a beneficial effect. “Chilling it may provide an even greater metabolism boost as the body needs to warm the water to body temperature during digestion,” she says.
Researchers examined 11 different brands of water purchased in 9 countries
The bottled water industry is estimated to be worth nearly $200 billion a year, surpassing sugary sodas as the most popular beverage in many countries. But its perceived image of cleanliness and purity is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic.
“Our love affair with making single-use disposable plastics out of a material that lasts for literally centuries — that’s a disconnect, and I think we need to rethink our relationship with that,” says Prof. Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher who carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York (SUNY).
The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered.
Mason’s team tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries (none were bought in Canada). Though many brands are sold internationally, the water source, manufacturing and bottling process for the same brand can differ by country.
The 11 brands tested include the world’s dominant players — Nestle Pure Life, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, San Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner — as well as major national brands across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
10.4 particles/litre on average
Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of all the plastic waste that makes its way into landfills and oceans. They are also manufactured intentionally, as microbeads used in skin care products. Microbeads are now being phased out in Canada, after significant numbers began to appear in the Great Lakes and the tiny particles were found filling the stomachs of fish.
Anything smaller than five millimetres in size (5,000 microns) is considered microplastic.
Orb found on average there were 10.4 particles of plastic per litre that were 100 microns (0.10 mm) or bigger. This is double the level of microplastics in the tap water tested from more than a dozen countries across five continents, examined in a 2017 study by Orb that looked at similar-sized plastics.
Other, smaller particles were also discovered — 314 of them per litre, on average — which some of the experts consulted about the Orb study believe are plastics but cannot definitively identify.
The amount of particles varied from bottle to bottle: while some contained one, others contained thousands.
The purpose of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water.
It’s unclear what the effect of microplastics is on human health, and no previous work has established a maximum safe level of consumption. There are no rules or standards for allowable limits of microplastics in bottled water in Canada, the United States and Europe. Rules and standards for other countries from the study are not known.
Two brands — Nestle and Gerolsteiner — confirmed their own testing showed their water contained microplastics, albeit at much lower levels than what Orb Media is reporting.
Plastics are present nearly everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. Many types only continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles, until they are not visible to the naked eye.
Plastics have also been known to act like a sponge, and can absorb and release chemicals that could be harmful if consumed by mammals and fish.
“It’s not straightforward,” said Prof. Max Liboiron of Memorial University in St John’s.
“If you’ve ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can’t scrub the orange colour out, that’s a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals,” says Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), which monitors plastic pollution.
The European Food Safety Authority suggests most microplastics will be excreted by the body. But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has raised concerns about the possibility some particles could be small enough to pass into the bloodstream and organs.
It’s not clear how the plastic is getting into the bottled water — whether it’s the water source itself or the air or the manufacturing and bottling process.
“Even the simple act of opening the cap could cause plastic to be chipping off the cap,” Mason said.
The science behind the test
The water tested was purchased in the U.S., Kenya, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand, and represented a range of brands across several continents. It was shipped to the specialized lab at SUNY in Fredonia, N.Y.
Scientists used Nile Red fluorescent tagging, an emerging method for the rapid identification of microplastics, as the dye binds to plastic. Scientists put the dyed water through a filter and then viewed samples under a microscope.
Mason’s team was able to identify specific plastics over 100 microns (0.10 mm) in size but not smaller particles. According to experts contacted by CBC News, there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic.
Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.
The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.
Fluorescing particles that were too small to be analyzed should be called “probable microplastic,” said Andrew Mayes, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
Orb consulted several toxicologists and microplastics experts throughout the entire process who also reviewed the findings.
“This is pretty substantial,” Mayes said. “I’ve looked in some detail at the finer points of the way the work was done, and I’m satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab.”
CBC News also asked multiple experts to review Orb’s study; while similar questions came up with the Nile Red dye, they were convinced there was some level of microplastics in the water and further research was warranted.
Big brands respond
Nestle said in a response that it had tested six bottles of water from two of its brands — Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino — and found between two and 12 microplastics per litre, much lower than what Orb found in its study. The company suggested that Nile Red dye is known to “generate false positives.”
Gerolsteiner also said its tests showed a “significantly lower quantity of microplastics per litre” in its products.
“We still cannot understand how the study reached the conclusions it did,” the company said. “The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis,” the company said in a response.
Danone, the company behind Evian and Indonesian brand Aqua, told Orb it is “not in a position to comment as the testing methodology used is unclear. There is still limited data on the topic, and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another.”
Brazilian brand Minalba told Orb that it abides by all quality and security standards required by Brazilian legislation.
The American Beverage Association, which represents many of the biggest brands across North America, including Nestle, Evian, Dasani and Aquafina, told Orb that “the science on microplastics and microfibres is nascent and an emerging field…. We stand by the safety of our bottled water products and we are interested in contributing to serious scientific research that will … help us all understand the scope, impact and appropriate next steps.”
Brands Biserli and Wahaha did not respond to Orb’s request for comment.
Plastics, plastics everywhere
Within three decades, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish. They are having a profound effect on the environment. In the oceans, vast quantities float on the surface, trapping sea life and blocking the sun’s rays from entering the waters.
Mason points out people can choose to not buy water in a plastic bottle, and to carry a refillable bottle instead. But for other products, there is no choice. The majority of products on grocery and retail store shelves are contained in plastic.
“It’s portable, it’s lightweight, it’s convenient, it’s cheap — that just makes it easy,” Mason says. “It’s so difficult to get people to care about things they can’t see.”
If a tall, cold glass of water is not really your thing, hitting your daily water needs can seem out of reach. Here are some healthy ways to stay hydrated, even if you don’t like plain old water.
Whenever I write about staying hydrated, I hear from folks who just don’t like water. And honestly, plain water is not my favorite thing either. If I’m very thirsty, I crave a glass of water, but it’s hard to get jazzed about water on a regular day.
The trick with drinking more fluids is that you don’t want to add a bunch of sugary drinks, like soda and juice, to your daily routine. Drinking your calories is bad news for maintaining a healthy body weight, and excess sugar is linked to chronic disease and even depression.
The good news is that there are ways to stay hydrated without drinking glass after glass of plain water or resorting to sugary drinks. These are some of my favorite healthy, hydrating tricks.
1. Eat your water
At a recent nutrition conference I attended, one of the doctors said that if you eat a lot of fruit and veggies, you don’t end up needing to drink as much, because you’re actually eating your water. A 2013 study found that eating more fruits and vegetables can make you significantly more hydrated without upping the water you’re drinking at all.
Choose fruits and veggies with high water content, like melons, strawberries, lettuce, celery and cabbage. Check out this chart, which breaks out food and drink by their percentage of water content.
2. Pass the bubbles
No, a mimosa is not a healthy, hydrating drink, but sparkling water can help you hit your water mark. Soda water or seltzer sometimes get a bad rep, but most experts agree that they’re just as hydrating as water.
The biggest myth about carbonated water is that it leaches calcium from your bones. This is not true. Drinking lots of soda is linked to lower bone density, but the bubbles are not to blame. Excessive sugar consumption (like from drinking lots of sweet sodas), on the other hand, does have links to osteoporosis. Maybe this is where that myth got started.
3. Flavored water
Skip the artificially sweetened, colored and flavored drink packets, and flavor your own water at home. To make your own flavored water, just squeeze in some fresh lemon or lime juice or float cut fruit or herbs in your glass. It’s visually appealing and a lot healthier than a super sweet soda or artificially flavored drink. Plus, you end up with a little snack at the bottom of your glass!
I like to use this trick with flat or sparkling water, so try each and see which one you like best! Try some of my Fruity Fizz combos to get you started. Pro tip: frozen fruit pieces actually work best here, because they release more flavor as they thaw.
4. Tea up
Whether you drink it hot or iced, unsweet tea gives you a nice flavor boost with no added sugars. Different teas each come with their own health benefits, so you get a healthy double whammy when you choose unsweetened teas.
If you’re a sweet tea or soda drinker now, going straight to unsweet tea is not going to be pleasant. I’d recommend making a gradual switch so your palate has time to adapt. Start with 3/4 the amount of sugar for a week, then go to 1/2 the amount, then 1/4. From there, you should be able to cut out the sugar without missing it too much. It will be an adjustment, but it’s so worth it for your health!
5. Ditch the juice (mostly)
The tips above are for drinks to add to your daily routine, but I think that juice deserves its own mention, because it gets a lot more healthy cred than I feel it deserves. Drinking more sweet juices is not doing your body any favors. Sweet juices like apple, orange and grapefruit are basically uncarbonated soda. Even juices without added sugars contain high levels of fructose without any of the fiber that makes fruit healthy.
There are some exceptions when it comes to juices. Not all juice is high in sugar. Lemon, lime, unsweetened cranberry and most vegetable juices are not going to add a lot of sugar to your diet. A splash of unsweetened cranberry in water or seltzer is one of my favorite everyday drinks, and it’s very low in sugar. If you’re not sure whether the juice you’re drinking is high in sugar, look at the nutrition label. Many popular juices contain as much sugar as soda. Apple juice, for example, has 24 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving. Eight ounces of Coca Cola contains 26 grams.