Water, Water Everywhere… Part 1
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Water, Water Everywhere… Part 1

Yesterday I mentioned that the talk I gave at the conference in Dallas was about bottled vs. tap water. It was truly one of the most interesting presentations I’ve worked on in a while, and a topic many people seem to be both interested in and confused about. So, I thought I’d share the basics from my presentation (but it’s going to take a few days – it’s a meaty topic). Ok, here it goes:

Without a doubt water is the most important nutrient. We can survive 6 weeks without food but only 7 days without water. About 60-70% of the human body is made of water, and it’s required for every single bodily process. But we actually lose water from our bodies every minute of every day, through perspiration and exhaling (you can “see your breath” when the water released from your lungs interacts with the cold air, and if you hold a mirror up to your mouth and breathe out, you’ll see the moisture). We also lose water through urine and feces. So, bottom line: replacing what we lose is critical for staying well-hydrated and keeping our bodies working properly.

So, how are we doing in that department? Well, there are two ways to look at this. The first is actual water intake (bottled or tap). The other is total fluid consumption, including all beverages, as well as the fluid in food. Believe it or not, roughly 20% of our water needs are generally filled by food (even more if you’re a fresh produce lover). Check out the fluid content of the foods below:

Water content by percent:
Lettuce 96%
Watermelon 95%
Tomatoes 93%
Spinach 92%
Broccoli 92%
Carrots 90%
Onions 89%
Oranges 88%
Plums 87%
Apples 85%
Pineapple 85%
Pasta 72%
Grilled chicken 71%
Baked fish 68%
Bread 36%

According to the Institute of Medicine, women 19 and over need 2.7 liters of fluid per day (to put this in perspective, think of a 2 liter bottle of cola) and men need 3.7. Studies tell us that most Americans drink about 2 liters per day of beverages total, but less than a quarter comes from water. Technically, non-water drinks like soda, lemonade, and iced tea do “count” toward your water needs (yup, even if they contain caffeine, as long as you’re consistent – more on this to come in a future post). Trouble is, like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, those drinks also provide empty calories (that is, calories that aren’t bundled with valuable nutrients).

In any case, when it comes to plain water, most people drink a combo of tap and bottled (although nearly 40% filter their tap water) and about 20% of consumers say they use bottled exclusively. Bottled water sales are estimated to be about $100 billion annually in the U.S. and increasing about 10 percent per year.
Surveys show that bottled water drinkers believed bottled is safer, tastes better, and is more convenient than tap. But is that really true?

Come back tomorrow to learn more about how both bottled and tap water are regulated, including the answers to the following questions:
-Which type is tested more frequently?
-Which type includes a segment that’s exempt from regulation?
-Which is better for the environment?
-How can I find out what’s in my tap water?
-What’s the difference between spring water, purified water, and mineral water?
-Do taste tests back the notion that bottled water tastes better?

P.S. Here are a few more interesting water-related facts:
-71% of Earth's surface is covered by water, it’s been said that the next world war will be over water
-It’s been predicted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that in the next 20 years, the quantity of water available to everyone will decrease by 30-40%
-In the U.S. we use about 159 gallons of water per person per day
-Half the world's population lives on 25 gallons of water per day

photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute
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Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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