One of the early lessons I learned while studying nutrition has stayed with me, mantra-like: “water is the universal solvent.” To me this speaks volume about the need to keep hydrated. Water is what we are, and what we can’t live without. It feeds our cells and our microbiome, cleanses our digestive tract, dilutes pharmaceuticals and toxins. It keeps our brain and nervous system working, our kidneys functioning and our skin clear and youthful. Without it, we die in a few days.
The old advice about drinking 8 glasses of water a day need not, IMHO, be strictly followed, as long as you drink enough each day to flush most of the colour from your urine. Thirst will guide you to some extent, but like so many other metabolic functions, the thirst response works less and less well as we age. Dehydration is a particular problem for older people, contributing to such issues as kidney failure, bladder infections and dementia.
Drinking too much water (or other liquid) with meals can dilute stomach acid, which is lacking in many of us, so sip lightly while you eat and drink liberally between meals.
A number of years ago, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe ill-advisedly quoth that proposing that water should be a human right was “an extreme position”. This statement, captured for internet eternity in a food documentary (We Feed the World), can be viewed on Youtube with the rest of his mercenary views on this “important raw material”. “Like any other foodstuff [it] should have a market value” he says, in a public-spirited attempt to ensure that we stupid consumers become aware that water has value.
Given the number of plastic bottles of Nestlé brand water I see strewn about even environmentally-themed conferences, I’d say he’s targeted his audience about right.
Many people buy bottled tap water, though we’ve known for at least a decade that this is exactly what brands like Dasani and Aquafina are. But think a bit deeper before you hand over your cash for any brand. By buying bottled water, you may be contributing to drought and deprivation.
Consider the huge profits the bottled water industry has guaranteed itself by assigning water a market value as we watch companies like Nestlé line their executives’ pockets through the dirt-cheap draining of public water reserves for reselling to gullible consumers. (Admittedly it’s a tough call whether it’s worse to give our dwindling fresh water reserves to bottling companies or to fracking operations.)
Let’s take this day to promise ourselves, if we have access to clean drinking water, to stop buying bottled water, regardless of brand. Celebrate this day by getting yourself a nice glass water bottle and filling it from your tap; or invest in a water filter system to do your own purification.
Whatever you do, set a water glass proudly by your hand and sip regularly between meals. Bon appetit, and happy World Water Day!