in and day out, millions of Americans, often the slimmer, more
health conscious among us, swig copious amounts of bottled water,
assuming they’re better people for doing so.
is, from the standpoint of nutrition, they’re no better off
drinking bottled water. For while drinking lots of bottled water won’t
hurt you, it won’t help much either.
"There’s really no outstanding reason for you
to drink bottled water," says Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama
Cooperative Extension System nutritionist. "Yes, we need water
and on average, we need the equivalent of eight glasses of water a
day. But you don’t have to get that strictly from drinking water.
It can come from other beverages and even from eating food."
From a nutritional standpoint, Keith says fruit
juice, rather than water, is a healthier choice, namely because
people are getting antioxidants and phytochemicals in addition to
"Juices have all those antioxidants in them –
vitamin C, for example – that water lacks. Juice really is the
better nutritional choice when you look at it from the standpoint of
nutrition rather than strictly calorie counting."
In addition, while many bottled water products,
especially mineral water, claim to be nutritious, they’re actually
not in comparison to many other beverages, Keith says.
‘While they may contain a few minerals such as
calcium and magnesium, that’s generally about it," he says.
"But in many cases, you can’t even be sure of that because
the product label often doesn’t specify. So beyond the need to
reduce calories, your best choice is to drink fruit juice."
Indeed, as Keith sees it, the only advantage water
holds over fruit juice and other beverages is its complete lack of
calories – a factor that weighs heavily among many diet-conscious
Besides fruit juices, other nutritious alternatives
include milk, which, because of its high calcium content, is a good
choice for women, many of whom face a risk of osteoporosis, a
crippling bone disease stemming from calcium deficiency.
Tea, rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, also
is a good choice. However, despite its nutritional value, tea also
contains caffeine, which may cause some people to urinate more
often. In effect, people who drink large amounts of tea in order to
stay hydrated actually may not derive as many advantages as they
would from drinking fruit juices and other beverages.
Like tea, alcoholic beverages also produce the same
Even if people occasionally fail to consume eight
glasses a day of water or some other beverage on any given day, it
is no cause for concern, Keith says. While beverages supply the bulk
of our daily water intake, a lot of this also comes from eating
"What people don’t realize is that you don’t
have to drink water in order to get water in your body," he
says. "You can even ‘eat it’ instead of drink it."
Many common foods, in fact, are largely made up of
water. Many fruits and vegetables – peaches, apples, for example
-- are made up of about 90 percent water. The same holds true for
pasta and spaghetti.
"By the time these foods are eaten and reach
the intestinal tract, the water has been extracted and absorbed into
the body just like beverages," Keith says. "It’s the
same as if you had derived this water from drinking beverages."
One other argument for drinking lots of water,
especially bottled water, is because it helps flush toxins out of
the body more efficiently.
However, this ignores the kidneys' amazing power
to filter toxins even when you aren’t consuming that much water,
"Kidneys do a very good job of getting rid of
toxins even down to the point where the body is becoming
dehydrated," he says. "If you’re not drinking that much,
your kidneys will compensate by loading more toxins per liter of
"Likewise, if you drink more water than your
body needs, the kidneys will compensate by loading fewer toxins per
liter of urine."
Yet another reason why people drink bottled water
stems from fears about the safety of the public drinking water
While Keith believes American drinking water is
among the safest in the world, he says consumers can allay these
fears merely by equipping their faucets with water filters.
That way, they will end up with a product as safe,
and possibly even more safe, than bottled water.
(Source: Dr. Robert Keith, Alabama Cooperative
Extension System nutritionist, 334-844-3273.)