Most of us grew up with our parents encouraging us to drink water instead of fizzy drinks and sugary juices. As we got older, we understood that our elders were right in urging us to stay hydrated with refreshing water instead of alternatives that are arguably tastier but not as healthy.
Then, as people around the world heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan that began in 2014 and potentially exposed up to 100,000 residents to water with excessive levels of lead, doubts crept into our minds.
They got worse as people learnt that England’s waters will remain illegally polluted until 2021, at the earliest.
Understandably, now, people wonder if the water they drink is as healthy as they thought, and how water quality — or lack thereof — has an impact on health.
Problems Associated With Water Access and Drinkability
In well-developed nations, people are accustomed to simply turning on the tap and letting water flow freely into a glass for drinking. However, in other areas around the world, people encounter substantial challenges to access water — and even then may face risks due to contaminated supplies.
Diarrhoea, dysentery and hepatitis A are some of the diseases people can develop after drinking impure water. Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 842,000 people die each year from diarrhoea resulting from poor-quality water or improper sanitation techniques, including inadequate hand washing.
Also, 159 million people depend on untreated surface water sources such as rivers and ponds. Accessing water from those resources also increases their risk of becoming ill.
Some People Dislike the Taste of Tap Water
The scenarios described above are on the extreme end of the spectrum. However, even when people can easily access water, they don’t always like to drink it.
A 2016 survey of drinking water habits among people in the United Kingdom found that 67 percent of respondents said they drink tap water. Although, 49 percent of the individuals who preferred bottled water instead of consuming it from the tap said they did that because of perceived poor quality or due to disliking the taste or smell of the water.
Many of them purchase filtering equipment that improves the taste of what they drink, either through tap attachments or containers with internal filters. Organisations such as NSF International oversee water filter standards that ensure manufacturers make products that live up to the claims on their labels.
The Connection Between Adequate Water Intake and Health
Health experts bring up a multitude of reasons why you should drink plenty of water each day. Dehydration can negatively affect your sleep patterns, interfere with concentration and trigger migraines — and those are just for starters.
On the other hand, if the water you drink has lead contamination, you may suffer from long-term or permanent health problems — even though the symptoms may not immediately be evident. The possible side effects of ingesting water tainted with lead include brain damage, anaemia and reproductive issues, among others.
A Quick Indicator of Your Hydration Level
It’s a good idea to start making a conscious effort to drink more water even if you don’t think dehydration has caused health problems yet. Most people don’t drink enough. One easy way to tell how you’re doing concerning water intake is to check the colour of your urine.
If it’s dark yellow, you need to drink more. But, if it’s a lighter shade of yellow, that’s a good sign of appropriate levels of water consumption.
Keep Water Nearby
Whether you decide to drink water from the tap or by using a filtration system, you can help yourself get in the habit of drinking it by always keeping a bottle of water within arm’s reach. Some models on the market today remind you to drink if you’ve gone too long without taking a sip.
Why not start getting in the habit of drinking more water, starting today? After doing it for a while, you may start feeling more energised and clear-headed and ready to excel in life, making you wonder why you didn’t take the straightforward but essential step of upping your water intake sooner.