Hey, what's in my drink!?

I had a mustache when I was a kid. It wasn't a case of too much testosterone in my little girl body---it was a case of too much grape juice. I ran around with a perpetual purple 'stache, since I drank Welch's grape juice pretty much non-stop.

As a parent, I made my kids juice-aholics, too.  My daughter's first full sentence was "I want juice." Like mother, like daughter.

I figured grapes had all kinds of health benefits, so grape juice must, as well.  I kept picturing those wonderful antioxidants and resveratrol (a type of polyphenol found in grape skins) swirling around in my bloodstream. (For more on grapes' health benefits, click here.) Yup, I was a juice girl. On occasion I'd drink a soda, lemonade, or even chocolate milk. But never water.  It didn't appeal.  It was flavorless.

Looks inviting, no?

My, what a difference a couple of decades (and some solid nutrition info) can make!  I now know that nothing beats pure water for hydrating our bodies and keeping cell function optimal. This is one reason so many organizations advocate for clean drinking water for peoples around the world.

Little did I know that good water is sometimes hard to come by in the U.S. as well!  Tap water often has added fluoride (which the ADA promotes to prevent tooth decay), chlorine, and other chemicals. They are added in order to improve or purify the water. Ironically, there is evidence that some of these additives are actually harming us. Chlorine, for example, kills harmful bacteria but also reacts with natural elements in our water to form toxins that have been linked to problems such as asthma, eczema and worse. (For specifics, see this article from The Environmental Magazine.)

More troubling are the residues from medications (like statins and birth control pills) and pesticide run-off that can be found in tap water. Though the percentages are small (in this article in Scientific American, they liken the amounts to a thimbleful of chemicals in an Olympic-sized swimming pool), it still gives one pause.  We don't know what effects this "chemical stew" might have on us.

Now this is happiness! :)

What to do? Don't freak out.  Just upgrade. Gradually make your way to the best H2O you can find. If you drink juice or soda, replace these drinks with healthier alternatives. (If you really want fruit, by the way, eat it, rather than drinking it.)  I switched to seltzer water with lime for a zesty, flavorful, alternative to soda. I also am a kombucha fan. (More on this fascinating drink in a future post!)

With water, if you usually drink tap, buy a filter. A Brita pitcher eliminates lead and chlorine. The Brita faucet filter gets rid of even more contaminants.  Berkey filters are top-of-the-line (think European chocolate v. Hershey's). It filters out lead and mercury, and all kinds of trace chemicals and pathogens. This filter is on our Christmas wish list!  Right now, our family does a combo of Brita-filtered water and Deer Park natural spring water.

Your body (down to the tiniest cells) will thank you for every upgrade you make in what you drink. Clean, pure water is refreshing, thirst-quenching and health-promoting. And, best of all---it leaves no purple 'stache!