When is water too old to drink?

by Lee Wang

We are constantly told that we need to drink more water. Whether someone is telling us to drink eight glasses during the day or to ensure we drink at least three liters or possibly to make sure we drink a few glasses in the morning. Whatever the advice is, it always comes down to “Drink more water”. It sounds like easy advice to follow. However, we wondered whether there were any potential pitfalls with this advice. Is some water better than other water? Is water ever too old to drink? If you find water in a bottle in the back of your car that has been there for a week is that ok to drink? What about the water you put beside your bed at night, is that still ok to drink in the morning? Read on to find out.

Hydration is incredibly important. When you consider that the human body is over 60% water it makes sense that drinking more will keep us in tip-top condition. It can make your body run more efficiently, ensure you have enough energy and make every organ you have a little happier. However, there are few recommendations on what is the best way to drink that water. Personally, I have my own bottle that I carry with me everywhere. I find by bringing my bottle everywhere I go, it becomes a habit to be drinking constantly. Although some places look at me a little strange, it works really well for me.

Whether you use filtered water, tap water or bottled water is really up to you. Bottled water should be clean and healthy but it is expensive and there have been some cases where it was found to be no better than regular tap water. Tap water is usually fine. In most places around the world, the tap water is cleaned to such a level, they could almost bottle it. However, some studies have shown that if there are too many bacteria-killing chemicals in the water (chlorine, fluoride, etc,) that it may kill the good bacteria in your stomach too. That good bacteria is very important so if you have the option, we recommend filtered water.

At what point do you consider old water to be too old? Research shows it happens pretty quickly. Scientists recommend that we should actually drink water quickly once we get it. Whether we pour it in a glass, in a bottle or anything else, it is best consumed straight away. The glass that you sometimes fill at night to drink the next morning and ensure you are starting your hydration straight away, may not be a great idea. It likely has a layer of dust and small bacteria sitting on the top layer of water. This could potentially make you sick.

Even if you use a bottle it likely has all of your bacteria the moment you take the first sip. This bacteria lasting any prolonged length of time is not ideal either. However, as it is your bacteria it is unlikely to make you ill. We don’t recommend sharing bottles though. 

With regard to any plastic bottles, it really is best to avoid leaving water for too long. If the bottle is not BPA free then the BPA can leach into the water and this has proven to be very bad for health and heavily linked to increased blood pressure. Even if the bottle is BPA free, as the bottle is transparent it could cause bacteria to grow through the increased heat. 

In short, drinking stale water is not likely to kill you but if you are looking for a daily routine it is better to make one that allows you to drink freshwater as much as possible.

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