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Everywhere… and maybe too much to drink

A while ago, I came across a post in Dr Margaret McCartney’s blog where she points out that an advert on the British Medical Journal website for Hydration for Health was actually sponsored by Danone who as well as selling extremely overpriced yoghurt, produce bottled water under several brands, including Evian. (Note that Evian spells Naive backwards.)

She says “Water is a good drink, yes yes, but tapwater in a refilled bottle is far better than expensive bottled water. Also kidneys are excellent at ensuring that your fluid balance is perfect. Your body is pretty good at telling you when to drink.” She went further and got an article published in the BMJ, countering the claims of Hydration for Health and its advert.

According to another objector Dr Aust, in an article entitled Glug glug glug … why those eight glasses a day don’t HAVE to be water (or eight) It seems that there has been a concerted campaign by the bottled water industry to try to persuade us:

1) That tap water, despite often being indistinguishable in quality from bottled spring water, is supposed to be of inferior quality- And get us to drink bottled water instead and

2) That we need to drink large quantities of water and only water to ensure proper hydration.

Hydration for Health for instance, cited research claiming that some older people were dehydrated. It turns out that there were specific medical reasons why they were dehydrated, rather than healthy older people not drinking enough.

My awareness of the ‘drink more water (2 litres or 8 glasses a day) drive’ started with the 1992 book “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr Fereydoon Batmanghelidj. He claimed that he could heal many diseases amongst fellow prisoners while he was detained during the Iranian revolution of 1979 and perhaps if he had access to reasonable quantities of clean water that were not available to other prisoners, then this would make a lot of sense. It seems though that later assertions of his have not been supported by much proper research.

Personally, as a keen natural health supporter, I actually found it quite difficult to drink 2 litres of water per day- maybe a litre and a half of fluids– and I started to suspect that the idea was a well meaning but misguided myth. I found it even more difficult to believe the idea when I thought about how hunter gatherer people live and how our distant ancestors lived. Certainly they would drink as much water as they needed when they were thirsty, but not more.

Then there’s the bottled water… Sometimes costing more than petrol and where according to Panorama in 2008 the processes generate up to 600 times more CO2 equivalent than the same amount of tap water.

The plastic bottles are made with Pthalates. These leach chemicals into the water, including artificial oestrogens. These Xenoestrogens or foreign oestrogens, are a particular concern of mine: they do not break down in the way that natural oestrogens do. They cause people to put on weight, suppress libido and are suspected causes of both breast and prostate cancer. We have no idea how long bottled water has been sitting, or in what conditions… The longer and the warmer, the worse it is. If you want really good water, install a good inline filter, but unless you live where river water with extra oestrogen is recycled, such as the Thames Valley, or your water is fluoridated (I think artificial fluoridation is a bad idea…) ordinary tap water is probably as good as bottled any day.

So I am with Dr McCartney on this: I trust my kidneys to look after my fluid balance and my thirst to let me know when I need a top up and I am happy to drink my usual cup of decaffeinated tea, or the local Dartmoor tap water.

If you want to know if your tap water is fluoridated the maps at the pro-fluoridation British Fluoridation Society’s One in a Million report shows areas in the UK and worldwide as of 2012.

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