Water is water, right? Wrong. There's actually a ton to know about nature's favorite liquid. We're going to deep dive into the different types of bottled water plus offer an overview of tap water, and what all this means for you and your health. Ultimate goal? Hydration station of course.
The only thing different about alkaline water is that it has a slightly higher pH level than other types of water. On the pH scale, alkaline water rests at about eight or nine, while normal bottled water reads about seven. For a quick refresh of your middle school science class, the pH scale stretches from zero to fourteen, and anything seven or lower is considered acidic. What does this mean for you? Well, proponents of alkaline water claim it can help lower the acid levels in your blood upon consumption. They also say it can lower the risk of cancer and help slow bone loss. While that sounds very appealing, these claims remain unfounded with no proof from research-based studies. The bottom line is that alkaline water is a great way to get hydrated, but doesn't offer any health benefits above any other form of water.
Mineral water is strictly defined as water from an underground source that contains trace amounts of important minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Those minerals must occur naturally and cannot be added later in the bottling and purifying processes. That sound pretty appealing, however, studies have shown that mineral content varies widely between European and American-sourced bottled water and tap water. Plus, it's best not to worry about minerals in your water source and instead get enough through consumption of nutrient-dense foods. On a brighter note, there is some research that suggests that consuming calcium-rich mineral water is helpful for improving bone density in elderly women; there is even a study that links mineral water rich in magnesium to less constipation. So what does that mean for you? Read labels carefully and don't look for special water as a miracle cure, but be cautiously aware that some benefits have been linked.
Artesian water sounds like the fanciest of the bunch but don't be fooled, it's simply water from an underground aquifer just like normal spring water. Artesian water may contain small amounts of minerals, but usually at such a low amount that no there are no added health benefits. Some artesian water companies claim to offer a more pure and clean taste, but that is subjective based on the consumer. Any claims of immune-boosting power remain unfounded, but artesian water is still water and is good for your health and well-being.
Sparkling water, either bottled or canned, is simply water with added carbonation. The dissolved carbon dioxide bubbles add an extra fizz element to traditional bottled water. There are also countless companies and flavor combinations to choose from when it comes to sparkling varieties. What does this mean for your health? Bubbles can help offset the feelings of nausea but unfortunately can contribute to bloating and digestive unrest. Thankfully, delicious sparkling water is still a great source to keep hydrated.
Tap water is simply the water that flows from your shower and faucet. It is treated via large public sanitizing systems to make it safe for human consumption. Overall, tap water and the different types of bottled water barely differ in their content. It's only the vehicle and delivery that are changed. Instead of arriving in a single serving bottle, tap water will fill whatever container you designate. It should be noted that some people complain about the taste of tap water.
The real differences between bottle and tap water can be summed up in two parts: cost and environmental impact. Safe tap water is a cheaper alternative to pricey bottled versions. Consider this plausible scenario: if you purchase just one $1 bottle of water every day, your yearly expenditure will be $365. For the same amount via your tap, you'd pay less than ten cents. And $1 doesn't even come close to the price of the more high end specialized bottled beverages. It simply doesn't make any financial sense to use bottled water. But, if you're still not sure about tap water, filters are an excellent option to further treat it. On another note, the environmental impact of drinking bottled water is astronomical. The process to treat, bottle, and ship water increases water scarcity worldwide, uses energy, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. These don't even include the packaging waste from un-recycled empty bottles. If you simply prefer bottled water, at least consider getting a trendy multi-use personal bottle to decrease your carbon footprint.
There is virtually no difference in the actual types of water we've covered other than slightly altered sources. Cost and environmental consequences are the only true considerations. What is also important, however, is that we are consuming enough water. Nearly every process in the body depends on it since we are made up of roughly 60% water. So make sure to regularly drink the recommended 3.7 liters of water daily, whether it's mineral, alkaline, sparkling, tap or artesian. Bottoms up!