Water and Your Health

OWLS™ Water and Your Health Education: For Students and Educators

OWLS Water Lab
OWLS™ STEM Education Research Resources are for students of all ages and for assisting teachers and parents in the education of our children on the importance of clean healthy drinking water. The research material posted below is for educational purposes only.   LTW™ endorses the following as OWLS™ STEM Educational Research Resources. Kids Health talks about why water is good for your health

KidsHealth.org
Why Drinking Water Is Important

What do you, the trees, and a hamster have in common? Give up? You all need water. All living things must have water to survive, whether they get it from a water fountain, a rain cloud, or a little bottle attached to the side of a hamster cage.

Without water, your body would stop working properly. Water makes up more than half of your body weight and a person can’t survive for more than a few days without it. Why? Your body has lots of important jobs and it needs water to do many of them. For instance, your blood, which contains a lot of water, carries oxygen to all the cells of your body. Without oxygen, those tiny cells would die and your body would stop working.

Water is also in lymph (say: limf), a fluid that is part of your immune system, which helps you fight off illness. You need water to digest your food and get rid of waste, too. Water is needed for digestive juices, urine (pee), and poop. And you can bet that water is the main ingredient in perspiration, also called sweat.

In addition to being an important part of the fluids in your body, each cell depends on water to function normally.

Your body doesn’t get water only from drinking water. Any fluid you drink will contain water, but water and milk are the best choices. Lots of foods contain water, too. Fruit contains quite a bit of water, which you could probably tell if you’ve ever bitten into a peach or plum and felt the juices dripping down your chin! Vegetables, too, contain a lot of water — think of slicing into a fat tomato from the garden or crunching into a crisp stalk of celery.

How Much Is Enough?

Since water is so important, you might wonder if you’re drinking enough. There is no magic amount of water that kids need to drink every day. Usually, kids like to drink something with meals and should definitely drink when they are thirsty. But when it’s warm out or you’re exercising, you’ll need more. Be sure to drink some extra water when you’re out in warm weather, especially while playing sports or exercising.

When you drink is also important. If you’re going to sports practice, a game, or just working out or playing hard, drink water before, during, and after playing. Don’t forget your water bottle. You can’t play your best when you’re thinking about how thirsty you are!

When your body doesn’t have enough water, that’s called being dehydrated. Dehydration also can keep you from being as fast and as sharp as you’d like to be. A bad case of dehydration can make you sick. So keep that water bottle handy when the weather warms up! Not only does water fight dehydration, but it’s awfully refreshing and has no calories.

Your body can help you stay properly hydrated by regulating the amount of water in your system. The body can hold on to water when you don’t have enough or get rid of it if you have too much. If your pee has ever been very light yellow, your body might have been getting rid of excess water. When your pee is very dark yellow, it’s holding on to water, so it’s probably time to drink up.

You can help your body by drinking when you’re thirsty and drinking extra water when it’s warm out. Your body will be able to do all of its wonderful, waterful jobs and you’ll feel great!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012

Go To Facts About Water

TheFactsAboutWater.org
Hydration and Your Body

Most of us understand that staying hydrated is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But what does water really do for our bodies? Water is essential for human life — we can survive only a few days without it.

Studies show that the vast majority of healthy people meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. Recognizing your thirst and your body’s ongoing need for water is essential to the health and proper functioning of your body.

A 2004 report from the National Academy of Science (NAS) acknowledged the importance of water in staying hydrated and found that all beverages and foods contribute to hydration. The study said men are adequately hydrated by consuming 100 ounces of fluids per day, including drinking water and other beverages, and women at a level of just more than 72 ounces. That does, indeed, give support to – and goes beyond – the general guidance to consume eight, 8-ounce (64 ounces total) servings of water each day. For consumers who choose water as a beverage for hydration and refreshment, bottled water is an excellent choice because of its consistent safety, quality, good taste, and convenience.

According to the NAS, temporary underconsumption of water can occur due to heat exposure, high levels of physical activity, or decreased food and fluid intake. However, on a daily basis, fluid intake driven by thirst and the habitual consumption of beverages at meals is sufficient for the average person to maintain adequate hydration.

In addition, the NAS points out that prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore may raise daily fluid needs. Very active individuals who are continually exposed to hot weather often have daily total water needs of six liters or more, according to several studies. For consumers who choose water as a beverage for hydration and refreshment, bottled water is an excellent choice because of its consistent safety, quality, good taste, and convenience. (Source: Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt and Potassium to Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk, National Academy of Science, 2004)

TheFactsAboutWater.org
Health and Hydration

Read what scientists and other water experts have to say on the topic of health and hydration.

Click on the article or presentation titles below to be taken to the full study.

DWRF Submission #4 to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Jack West, Drinking Water Research Foundation, September 2014
Zero calorie beverages such as water – including bottled water – can help achieve and maintain a healthy weight and promote health. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognized this fact when it noted that, “Sweetened foods and beverages can be replaced with those that have no or are low in added sugars. For example, sweetened beverages can be replaced with water and unsweetened beverages.” (29) We would recommend enhanced messaging in this section and other sections like it on water consumption with the incorporation of language on bottled water for the 2015 Guidelines and related supplemental documents, such as the “My Plate” nutrition guide. Moreover, we suggest the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee specifically acknowledge the importance of bottled water since it is the healthiest option among packaged beverages, which in today’s on-the-go society is the primary way most people consume liquids in their diets.

DWRF Submission #3 to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Jack West, Drinking Water Research Foundation, July 2014
DWRF believes that for Americans to drink more water, all sources of water – tap, filtered and bottled — should be promoted. Indeed, given that more than half of the water consumed by Americans is bottled water (according to Beverage Marketing Corporation), language that excludes bottled water, such as drink “freely accessible water,” is counterproductive. Sometimes free tap water is not available. Therefore, qualifying water as “free” can limit people from choosing the healthiest, calorie-free drink available, in whatever form suits their circumstances at the moment.

DWRF Submissions (#1 & #2) to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Jack West, Drinking Water Research Foundation, September 2013
Living a healthy lifestyle— a combination of eating a healthful diet and physical activity—is a key component of keeping our bodies performing at their optimal level. A major part of this includes adopting healthy hydration habits. This involves both the quality and quantity of our beverage intake. Water consumption is an integral part of staying healthy. DWRF asks that the Committee keep this in mind as it makes its recommendations concerning the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

The Effect of Soft Drink Availability in Elementary Schools on Consumption, Fernandes M. Meenakshi, Journal of American Dietetic Association, September 2008
To quantify the association among soft drink availability, school-based purchases, and overall consumption for elementary school children in the United States. The study is a cross-sectional, descriptive analysis of children in fifth grade across the United States. Measures of soft drink availability, purchases, and consumption are reported by the child in direct assessments by interviewers.

Children’s Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, June 2008
A recent study published in Pediatrics and led by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are an increasingly large part of children and teens’ diets. Teens who consume SSBs, which include sodas, fruit drinks and punches, and sports drinks, drink an average of 356 calories per day, a significant increase from 10 years earlier. The findings suggest that reducing empty caloric intake by limiting these drinks may be a key strategy for promoting healthy eating and preventing excess weight gain.

Bottled Water, Janet Helm, American Dietetic Association, May 2008
Bottled water sales have soared in recent years, as people increasingly choose bottled water in place of calorie-laden beverages. Drinking sufficient water is certainly to be encouraged, but what type of water is better?

A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment and Sanitation for Backcountry & Travel Use

A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment and Sanitation for Backcountry and Travel Use

Note: A PDF version of this document with information conveyed visually in table format is available (please note that the PDF is not accessible for screen readers; this HTML page contains the same information as that found within the PDF): A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment and Sanitation for Backcountry and Travel Use – PDF Adobe PDF file [PDF – 896 kb].

Introduction

This document should only serve as a guide for individuals intending to use untreated or poorly treated water as a drinking source. This document may also aid travelers and backcountry water users in researching drinking water treatment methods. Except for boiling, few of the water treatment methods are 100% effective in removing all pathogens.

  • Protozoa – Cryptosporidium
    • Potential health effects from ingestion of water contaminated with Cryptosporidium are:
      • Gastrointestinal illness (for example, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps).
    • Sources of Cryptosporidium in drinking water are:
      • Human and animal fecal waste.
    • Methods that may remove some or all of Cryptosporidium from drinking water are:
      • Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing Cryptosporidium;
      • Filtration has a high effectiveness in removing Cryptosporidium when using an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter);
      • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine is not effective in killing Cryptosporidium;
      • Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Cryptosporidium;
      • Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing Cryptosporidium when used with chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter).
  • Protozoa – Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia)
    • Potential health effects from ingestion of water contaminated with Giardia are:
      • Gastrointestinal illness (for example, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps).
    • Sources of Giardia in drinking water are:
      • Human and animal fecal waste.
    • Methods that may remove some or all of Giardia from drinking water are:
      • Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing Giardia;
      • Filtration has a high effectiveness in removing Giardia when using an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter);
      • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia;
      • Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing Giardia;
      • Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing Giardia when used with chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter).
  • Bacteria – (for example, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli)
    • Potential health effects from ingestion of water contaminated with bacteria are:
      • Gastrointestinal illness (for example, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps).
    • Sources of bacteria in drinking water are:
      • Human and animal fecal waste.
    • Methods that may remove some or all of bacteria from drinking water are:
      • Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
      • Filtration has a moderate effectiveness in removing bacteria when using an absolute less than or equal to 0.3 micron filter;
      • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
      • Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
      • Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing bacteria when used with iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 0.3 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter).
  • Viruses – (for example, enterovirus, hepatitis A, norovirus, rotavirus)
    • Potential health effects from ingestion of water contaminated with viruses are:
      • Gastrointestinal illness (for example, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps), hepatitis, meningitis.
    • Sources of viruses in drinking water are:
      • Human and animal fecal waste.
    • Methods that may remove some or all of viruses from drinking water are:
      • Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute minimum) has a very high effectiveness in killing viruses;
      • Filtration is not effective in removing viruses;
      • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a high effectiveness in killing viruses;
      • Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing viruses;
      • Disinfection has a high effectiveness in killing viruses when used with iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide.

Things to Remember

Please remember that:

  • Boiling can be used as a pathogen reduction method that should kill all pathogens. Water should be brought to a rolling boil for 1 minute. At altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (greater than 2000 meters), you should boil water for 3 minutes.
  • Filtration can be used as a pathogen reduction method against most microorganisms, depending on the pore size of the filter, amount of the contaminant, particle size of the contaminant, and charge of the contaminant particle. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed. More information on selecting an appropriate water filter can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/crypto/gen_info/filters.html. Only filters that contain a chemical disinfectant matrix will be effective against some viruses.
  • Disinfection can be used as a pathogen reduction method against microorganisms. However, contact time, disinfectant concentration, water temperature, water turbidity (cloudiness), water pH, and many other factors can impact the effectiveness of chemical disinfection. The length of time and concentration of disinfectant varies by manufacturer and effectiveness of pathogen reduction depends on the product. Depending on these factors, 100% effectiveness may not be achieved. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.
  • If boiling water is not possible, a combination of filtration and chemical disinfection is the most effective pathogen reduction method in drinking water for backcountry or travel use. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.

Other treatment methods can be effective against some of the above pathogens:

  • Ultraviolet Light (UV Light) can be used as a pathogen reduction method against some microorganisms. The technology requires effective prefiltering due to its dependence on low water turbidity (cloudiness), the correct power delivery, and correct contact times to achieve maximum pathogen reduction. UV might be an effective method in pathogen reduction in backcountry water; there is a lack of independent testing data available on specific systems. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.
  • MIOX® systems use a salt solution to create mixed oxidants, primarily chlorine. Chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia, and a high effectiveness in killing bacteria and viruses. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.

Important: Water that has been disinfected with iodine is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, those with known hypersensitivity to iodine, or continuous use for more than a few weeks at a time.

Sanitation

In addition to using the appropriate drinking water treatment methods listed above, you can also protect yourself and others from waterborne illness in the backcountry or while traveling by paying attention to good sanitation practices:

  • Burying human waste 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from natural waters.
  • Practicing good personal hygiene. Wash hands before handling food, eating, and after using the toilet.