One of the frequent healthcare questions I see in the media and often asked is related to the use of water in the home and in the environment and in which form is it most beneficial to the patient and society. As we review subjects related to our water supply, the question of bottled water use often surfaces, especially during the warm summer months when increased intake of water is usually recommended.
Like fellow columnist Ted Rowe, I enjoy relating stories of my experiences to interested adults and curious but often skeptical youth.
The various episodes of life in the 1950s and 1960s continue to provide reliable insights into some events even in the new century. Rowe(n) and Martin (from TV's "Laugh-In") would certainly agree!
The simple subject of drinking water was a childhood adventure which has amazingly continued into modern health news. When I moved to a rural Illinois town in 1946, our initial water source was an aged local public well with the long-handled pump which required some time and muscle to draw the water. In the winter, we would drink water trapped in the lake ice; in summer, the garden hose and the "bubbler" (water fountain) were readily available. In retrospect, these less-than-purified water sources likely provided more stimuli to my immune system than I realized.
In the past 10 years or so, undoubtedly related to the phenomenal interest in health, wellness, exercise, and environmental awareness, bottled water has burst upon the scene. "Sales of bottled water have surpassed those of milk and beer, and now, second only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in this country."
This amazing statement is found in the cleverly titled book "Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It" by Elizabeth Royte. Bottled water has become a billion dollar business with ramifications for the environment (plastic bottle recycling and disposal), the economy (billion dollar costs), and government (million dollar incomes from bottle deposits). It is estimated that bottle water costs about 1000 times the cost of tap water and 100 times the cost of home-filtered waterand yet we buy it!
Of course, some consumers believe that bottle water is better. Bottled water is certainly more portable and lends itself to use in our mobile society. Compared to some tap water, it is more (or less) tasty, but its use, especially in children, requires supplemental fluoride medication to prevent dental diseases. However, it is a well known fact that the dangers in drinking water are often from the contaminants that you cannot tasteand the ones removed by municipal purification systems.
It is often an unappreciated fact that the water contained in that bottle with the attractive label depicting a mountain stream, a flowing spring, or glacial ice often usually contains water from a municipal source and marketed by a food industry giant. A label noted by the Natural Resources Defense Council titled "Spring Water" showed a picture of a lake surrounded by mountains; however, the water in the bottle was obtained from an industrial parking lot source located next to a hazardous waste site!
Common sense should tell us which source of water is best for us. Such reasonableness should also guide us as to the volumes of water we need to consume daily. A common but dated and often erroneous recommendation is to drink eight glasses of water each day. Generally, physicians and nutritionists now suggest we drink liquids as our thirst demands, but at least one large glass of some liquid with each meal. As with most nutritional and other health matters, our mothers and our teachers usually gave us good advice!