Debunking Water Myths: How to Choose for Optimal Summer Hydration

With the heat of summer approaching full strength, there's no better time to revisit the way you stay hydrated.

Water makes up a significant portion of our body, even comprising up to 30 per cent of our bones, and it’s especially important to keep that water bottle at the ready as we get older. This is because as we age, particularly past 65, our thirst mechanism starts to diminish, which means our bodies can’t be trusted to stay hydrated. In fact, adults in Canada over the age of 70 consumed about one-third of the amount of water of younger generations. Pair this with the fact that one of the leading causes of hospitalization in the elderly is due to dehydration, and it starts to become clear that making a habit of sipping is good practice throughout your life.

There are plenty of options for keeping your thirst at bay at your local CHFA Member health food store. Whether you’re looking for new ways to filter your water, new ways to carry your water, or delicious and natural beverages that hydrate, there are H2-oh so many ways to hydrate!

Is bottled water better or cleaner than tap water?

In most municipal water supplies, chlorine is added to water to prevent the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria while it sits in water towers and travels through pipes to your home. An easy way to de-chlorinate municipal tap water is simple: patience. Fill your reusable water bottle from the tap and let it sit overnight in your fridge. In the morning, the chlorine will have dissolved out of the water, taking with it that swimming pool taste and smell.

However, being the second largest country on Earth, many Canadians have tap water from wells or other sources, and rely on filters and pumps to ensure clean, safe drinking water. These include everything from in-line filters to UV to ozonation and reverse osmosis systems that can remove potentially harmful bacteria, as well as small particles, resulting in pristine, clean water.

When you’re looking for your perfect water bottle, there really is no shortage of options. What you need to be aware of is that if water is in contact with a material for an extended period of time, there will be naturally occurring reactions that dissolve substances.  Choosing a non-plastic container, such as stainless steel or glass, can avoid some of the questionable sealants and other chemicals used to make plastic water bottles, including the now-limited use of Bisphenol-A (BPA).

Filtration station: how to filter your water to perfection

There's no shortage of ways to filter your water on the go. Some people swear by adding something as simple as a stick of activated charcoal, while others desire the high-tech re-mineralization and alkalizing effects of specialized “water sticks.”

Activated charcoal, sometimes called carbon filtering, uses natural carbon to remove contaminants in water. The way this works is through a process called adsorption, where small contaminants get trapped and locked away in tiny pores in the charcoal. Where these filters excel is in removing chlorine and sediments, and can help remove bad tastes from water. However, the pores are not small enough to remove minerals or salts, so these remain even after filtering.

A new and trendy product available at your CHFA Member health food store are mineralizing and alkalizing water sticks. Just pop one into your reusable water bottle, give it a shake and presto — you now have filtered, mineralized water. But what does that actually mean? Many people believe the process of adding minerals back into filtered water can provide tangible health benefits, while some find this process of mineralization and chlorine removal to improve the taste (who wants to drink pool water, anyway?).

What does the science say about the proposed health benefits of alkaline water? First, a mini-science lesson: whether water is alkaline or acidic refers to the pH, controlled by the dissolved elements. Pure water has a pH of 7.0, with alkaline water pushing that number slightly higher by having dissolved “alkalizing compounds,” such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and bicarbonate. Our bodies do an amazing job of balancing the pH of our blood and organ systems, so it's questionable as to whether drinking alkaline water affects the pH of our bodies. However, there have been some evidence-based benefits of increasing the alkalinity of what we consume proposed for gut health, reducing acid reflux and as a way to improve endurance for long-distance athletes. More research is needed to fully understand the impacts and you should speak with your health care practitioner about concerns you have about your health.

Decoding plant-based waters

For those who prefer a little flavour along with their hydration, Canada is home to some exciting and wonderful beverages that rival the ever-popular and tropical coconut water, including maple water and birch water. These two tree-based waters have a natural sweetness from the sap of these majestic trees, along with hydrating minerals.

No matter what your taste buds desire, these drinks provide a source of rejuvenating and hydrating minerals, including magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. Research published in the Journal of Functional Foods has shown that maple water is also rich in organic acids and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Best of all, Canada is one of the leading producers of this patriotic, hydrating beverage.

Per 1 cup (250 ml) (estimates vary by product)

Nutrient

Coconut Water

Maple Water

Birch Water

Calories

45

20

8

Sugars

9g

5g

3g

Sodium

64mg

45mg

0mg

Potassium

400mg

15mg

35mg

Calcium

17mg

20mg

18mg

Magnesium

15mg

--

8mg

 

Water makes up most of our body and staying hydrated is essential for proper health. This summer, make sure you’ve got a reusable bottle to top up with your beverage of choice, whether it's tap water filtered to perfection, or an electrolyte-boosting and naturally sweet plant-water.