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Could the Pursuit of Optimal Hydration Be Putting You at Risk?

Posted in Water on September 6, 2018

We all know that we shouldn’t drink water from BPA bottles left out in the heat for fear of chemical leaching and build up of incubating bacterial backwash.  But did you know there may be danger lurking in the glass on your night stand?

In an effort to try to maintain hydration, or even just to minimize night time trips to the kitchen, many of us leave a glass of water on our bedside table.  “Just in case” we get thirsty.

But before you take a sip, let’s talk about dehydration and just as important, how dangerous that seemingly innocent glass on the nightstand can be.

Chronic State of Dehydration

Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. With 60 percent of our bodies being made up of water, it’s no surprise staying hydrated is an important part of living a healthy life.  Unfortunately, we often fall short of hydration status.  In fact, up to 75 percent of Americans consume the recommended 10 cups of water prescribed by the Institute of Medicine, leaving a significant majority of us functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.

Water is important for many different bodily processes.  From helping to digest foods and absorb important vitamins and nutrients from our foods to the detoxification processes performed by the liver and kidneys to flush the waste away.  The best way to keep an eye on your hydration status is to pay attention to the color of your urine.  Darkly colored urine is a good indication you are very dehydrated.  Normal urine should be a light, straw color.

When is the Best Time to Drink Water?

The body needs 8 to 10 full cups of water a day to function properly.  I don’t recommend guzzling all of it at once though.  That is certainly not a good idea for many many reasons.  But that is information for another post.  Did you know that there are specific times that are more optimal to turn that glass up and drink?

While drinking water anytime of day is a good thing.  Drinking at these specific times are best for your health.  Fill in the rest of your water intake spaced throughout the day.  First, you should drink one glass of water just after you wake up.  Drink water before and after a meal.  Another before a bath and finally before you go to sleep.

But why?

After Waking UpDrinking a full glass of water after waking up helps to activate your body.  It wakes up your internal organs and starts your day off right.  This will also help to flush any toxins before your first meal of the day.  Wake up.  Drink water…

Before a Meal.  Drinking a glass of water about 30 minutes before a meal will help your digestion.  Just don’t drink the water too soon before the meal so that your digestive juices do not get diluted.  Repeat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as necessary.

After a Meal.  Drinking a glass of water about an hour after eating a meal will help the body absorb the nutrients.  This will allow your body to get more out of the foods you are eating to fuel yourself.  Just as before the meal, repeat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as necessary.

Before a Bath.  Drinking a glass of water before a bath or shower will help lower your blood pressure.

Before You Sleep.  Drinking a glass of water about an hour before you go to sleep will help you replenish any fluid your body might need throughout the night.  Drink water, then sweet dreams.

Bedside Water Warning

Ideally you should drink water before bed, then again when you wake up.  Many people opt to leave a glass of water on their bedside table to get them through the night.  You might even think to do so in order to work towards “optimal hydration” as suggested in the tips above.  But you might want to reconsider.

Turns out drinking water left in an open glass overnight is not just unsanitary, but could cause serious illness.  In addition to unhealthy surface scum, dust, debris, and even the uninvited fly or mosquito that might find its way into your glass overnight, there are more things floating around in the air in your home than you dare to consider.  But since that is what we do here from time to time, I’m going to gross you out just a little bit.  Did you know that just standing in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour.  Even materials from previous occupants can be stirred up from the floor depending on the flooring type in the room.  “We live in this microbial soup, and a big ingredient is our own microorganisms,” said Jordan Peccia, associate professor of environmental engineering at Yale and principle investigator of a study recently published online in the journal, Indoor Air.  “Mostly people are re-suspending what’s been deposited before.  The floor dust turns out to be the major source of he bacteria that we breath.”

Much worse could be lurking in the water if you have already taken a drink from it.  The backwash we inadvertently flush back into the glass.  This backwash contains fragments from in and around our mouth.  This consists of skin cells, sweat, dust, and even nasal discharge.  Yuck!  Not to mention the bacteria sloshing around in our saliva.  “If it’s allowed to incubate for hours, that could potentially contaminate the water, and make you ill by reintroducing the bacteria,” says Marc Leavey, MD, a primary care specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Massachusetts.  “Once you have put your lips to the bottle, you should consume that bottle in one sitting and then discard it.”  Otherwise, says Leavey, “avoid putting your mouth to the bottle.  Just pour it into a cup or pour it directly into your mouth.

If nasal discharge, mosquitos, skin from previous room occupants, and bacteria aren’t enough to sway you, what about carbon dioxide or carbonic acid?  When a water is left exposed to air overnight, it can absorb carbon dioxide.  This begins to change the pH of the water.  This pH change and addition of carbon dioxide promotes the formation of carbonic acid.  While the shift in pH from being left over just one night won’t be significant.  It will slightly change the taste, but this pH shift may make your water a better pool for harmful bacteria to grow in.

So, What’s the Solution?

There are many ways your can achieve optimal hydration AND keep your water at arms reach from your pillow.  If you are comfortable with it, use single-use bottles of water.  If you cannot consume the entire bottle in one sitting, make your way to the fridge to reduce the growth potential of that backwashed bacteria.

Pour water in a sealable clean cup.  If you have a cup with a lid, feel free to fill that baby up with water.  Just make sure the cup is clean and don’t be tempted to drink from it until morning.  Use another cup to take care of your night-time hydration needs.

You might come up with your own safe solution to use instead.  Whatever it takes, hydrate.  Safely.  Now, go drink up!

By: Heather Van Tassell, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)