Here we are in the throes of the annual hotter-than-Hades Texas summer when staying hydrated is more important than any other time of the year. I think we all know the dangers of poor hydration by now: increased fatigue, yawning and sleepiness despite getting enough sleep, increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, headaches, poor concentration, etc. Severe dehydration can even lead to a chemical imbalance in the body that can cascade all the way to death.
So what do the vast majority of Americans do when they feel the need to hydrate? They stop by the store for a bottle of water. We’ve all gotten the commercial message that bottled water is superior to tap water, a message that is largely untrue, but is nonetheless heeded.
Then along comes an e-mail or Facebook post about the dangers of bottled water. Have you seen one yet? There’s probably one in your inbox right now. The one that is making the rounds again this summer warns women not to leave their plastic water bottles in the car as this will release dioxin, a toxin which causes cancer. Sometimes this is advice is attributed to a doctor, sometimes there is a quote from Sheryl Crow allegedly from the Ellen Degeneres show about how drinking bottled water caused her breast cancer.
While a quick trip to Snopes.com will show you that this is an urban myth, there is some truth in the claim too. Plastics folks say plastic water bottles are safe, many scientists say no they aren’t. I’m not here to referee this debate, so I will point out that there are enough scary facts that are undisputed to make you think twice about buying bottled water.
- Heated plastics leach out chemicals.
Plastics, when heated, can release some of the many chemicals that are used to create them. Dr. Rolf Halden from Johns Hopkins School of Public health says there are no dioxins in plastics, but confirms that plastics release chemicals when heated – this might be heating foods in plastic in the microwave or drinking hot liquids from straws that are not designed for exposure to heat. Both cause a heat extraction of chemicals which then transfer to your food or beverages.
Any time you heat something the likelihood of pulling something out of what is heated increases. That’s why when you want a cup of tea you heat the water then pour it over the bag. Have you ever made “sun tea?” You put a whole bunch of tea bags in a jar you can seal, fill it with water and sit it out in the sun all day. That jar generally doesn’t get as hot as a plastic water bottle sitting in your car, yet out comes the tea.
- Cancer, endocrine dysfunction, and depression, oh my!
Phthalates, often used to make plastic bottles less brittle, are contaminants which function much like hormones do. These can disrupt your endocrine system. This is dangerous for anyone, but in women it can promote the growth of hormone related tumors such as breast cancers.
Antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, even in very small doses can cause depression and dizziness. In larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting, and death.
- Plastic bottles are wildly inefficient.
It takes 17 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles used in the US alone each year. For the record, that would fill up 1.3 million cars for a year.
If you drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day, filling up a glass at the tap in your kitchen you will drink about 49 cents worth of water. But if you buy it all in bottles? $1400 a year!Most sources agree that when you buy a liter of water it took 3 more liters to get the stuff into the bottle. You are in essence, wasting 75% of the water you used by purchasing water in a bottle.
So what is the solution?
- Get a water filter and filter the water out of your tap.
This improves the taste and pulls out contaminants that might be lurking in the tap water. Options abound – you can use a Britta type pitcher to filter a liter or so at a time, or you can go for an under-sink filter. All of these do a respectable job of keeping your water clean and good tasting.
- Tote your own!
Spend a little bit to save a whole lot. Ideally, you want to get a stainless steel or glass bottle. Neither is as expensive as buying a weeks’ worth of bottled water, both clean up easily, and both are free of taste and smell.Stainless steel will set you back about $20. I carry a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottle that serves me well. You can get flip tops for them now that are far easier than unscrewing the bottle each time you want a drink. This makes it more likely that you will hydrate yourself and stay healthier.
Glass is more fragile, but you can now get bottles with silicone sleeves that help protect against bumps and breaks. Lifefactory makes a bottle like this which is currently available at Whole Foods.
- Get a filtered water bottle
Spend a lot of time away from your house and need to be able to drink more than you can carry? Camelbak now makes a stainless steel Eddy bottle with a built-in changeable filter that sells for about $25.
Even if you have to spend a little to ditch the plastic bottle habit, you’re about to save more than $1300 per year. That’s like getting a $100/month raise!
Now that I have just saved you a ton of money and maybe even your health, why not schedule an appointment to come see me, improve your health, your energy, and your ability to get back out there with your new water bottle and have fun!
Call 512-619-5549 for an appointment or book online!