News About What You Drink

Surprising news about water, soda, tea, alcohol and what you drink in your daily diet.

| October/November 2004

To your health!” That traditional toast captures what we are only now beginning to learn — that what and how much you drink may be just as important as what and how much you eat.

The average person needs about a milliliter of fluid for every calorie burned. That’s about eight 8-ounce glasses for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Plenty of liquids fit the bill, but some are better than others, especially as routine thirst quenchers. Let’s take a look at each one. The “healthy” list might surprise you.

Water: Healthy And Cheap

For plain old topping off your tank, water is hard to beat. It has 100 percent of what you need — pure H 2 O — and no calories or additives. And when it comes from the tap, water costs a fraction of a penny per glass. You may have heard or read that you need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day in addition to whatever other beverages you drink. That’s actually a medical urban legend, one of those “facts” that is repeated so often it gains the ring of truth. In fact, almost any beverage will do.

Many people feel strongly that bottled water is better than tap water. Scientists have raised the possibility that the chlorine-based chemicals used to rid tap water of disease-causing bacteria can react with organic matter to create potentially cancer-causing compounds. Carcinogens can also leach into water supplies from leaking gasoline and underground storage tanks and from a variety of other sources.

But our public water supplies are generally very safe, and chlorination has saved countless lives by blocking the spread of infectious diseases. If there are risks to drinking tap water, they are very low compared with other “hazardous” habits. That said, the levels of chlorine in some city water can make it taste pretty bad. In this case, drinking bottled water is an inexpensive and healthy alternative to drinking soda, juice or other beverages in place of tap water.

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