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TESTING OUR HYDRATION IQ by Ronica O’Hara


M 1


yths abound regarding proper hydra- tion—many of them encouraged by


purveyors of bottled water. Gauge personal hydration know-how by answering these true-or-false questions.


If we’re thirsty, we’re already dehydrated. TRUE.Our kidneys let us know when we


need water by sending a “thirsty” message to the brain. “If you ignore that warning, it will go away and other symptoms will occur, such as headache, brain fog, muscle cramps and dry, cool skin, making the dehydration more seri- ous,” warns Chiropractor Livia Valle, of Valins Chiropractic, in Smithtown, New York.


2


We must drink eight glasses of water every day. FALSE. Eating fruits and vegetables


also bolsters hydration (watermelon and spin- ach are almost 100 percent water by weight),


as do milk, juice and herbal tea, advises the Mayo Clinic.


3


It’s impossible to overhydrate. FALSE. Although rare, hyponatremia can result


from some diseases, medications and con- suming too much water too quickly, causing sodium (salt) levels to plummet; this can lead to nausea and coma, to which marathon run- ners can be prone (WebMD.com).


4


Electrolyte-enhanced drinks beat out water. FALSE. Experts say that for most


people most of the time, plain water hydrates just as well, which is good news, considering the sugar and artificial dyes in Gatorade and similar electrolyte drinks. Even for athletes, hydrating with electrolytes is called for only after more than an hour of intense, sweaty exercise, according to the American Col-


Sanitation Foundation (NSF) testing agency that check for specific contaminants of concern. NSF-42 coding certifies filters that improve water taste and


remove both chlorine and particulate matter. NSF-53 is more stringent and requires removal of metals and harmful chemicals. Te highest standard, NSF-401, covers filters that eliminate bacte- ria, pesticides/herbicides and residue from drugs like ibuprofen. Activated carbon filters, which require regular replacement


cartridges, remove large particles like sediment and silt. Reverse osmosis filters remove dissolved inorganic solids (including salts) by pushing tap water through a semi-permeable membrane. Ultraviolet water purification is effective at treating bacteria and viruses, but not contaminants such as chlorine, volatile organic compounds or heavy metals. Charcoal pitcher filters are the most common, easiest to use and


least expensive, although cartridges add to the cost and are only effective for processing about 40 gallons each. To save money, DIY products allow individuals to refill used cartridges with new activat- ed charcoal. Filter pitchers need to be cleaned regularly because the charcoal can leak, producing mildew, calcium and grime. Faucet-mounted models are easy to install and can be switched


easily from filtered to unfiltered water (e.g., for washing up). Under-sink filters and cartridges are effective for up to 200 gallons, but more challenging to install. Connecting to refrigerators and ice makers makes installation more complex, and leakage can be an issue; countertop filters take up space, but are less likely to clog. Consumer Reports says reverse osmosis filters are effective at


removing contaminants, but can operate slowly, consume cabinet space, need periodic cleaning with bleach and create three to five gallons of wastewater for every gallon filtered. WHO indicates that conventional municipal water treatment


processes can remove about half of the compounds associated with pharmaceutical drugs. Advanced treatment like reverse osmosis and nanofiltration can be more efficient, removing up to 99 percent of large pharmaceutical molecules. Te first step is a water test. Some state and local health


lege of Sports Medicine. If concerned about hydrating on an active, steamy day, consider stirring additive- and sugar-free electrolyte tablets or powder into water.


5


Caffeine causes dehydration. FALSE. A UK University of Birmingham study of 50


people that drank three to six cups of coffee daily found no significant effects on hydra- tion—perhaps because the water in coffee and tea makes up for any dehydrating effects.


6


The volume of urine is a better hydration indicator than its color. TRUE. “Urine color


varies based on many factors, including diet,” says exercise physiologist Mary Jayne Rog- ers, Ph.D., of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “But if you are not producing much urine, it can be a sign that your body is clinging to water and may need more.”


departments offer free test kits and they are also sold at hardware stores. Certified laboratories test tap water samples, with informa- tion oſten available from the local water provider. Find a state-by-state list of certified labs plus program contacts


at Tinyurl.com/DrinkingWaterCertificationInfo. Te EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline is 800-426-4791. Jim Motavalli, of Fairfield, CT, is an author, freelance journalist and


speaker specializing in clean automotive and other environmental topics. Connect at JimMotavalli.com.


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November 2018 31


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