Water is one of those things just assumed to be good for you at all times, in all quantities. It's up there on the list of quintessentially nutritious foods and drinks with apples and broccoli and oatmeal. Water is so important and awesome, Michelle Obama wants you to drink more of it and she has created a whole new campaign around encouraging you to do so.
While most people in developed countries are lucky enough not to have to worry about where to find clean, safe drinking water, H2O isn't taken for granted everywhere. Each year, more than 3.4 million people die worldwide because of water supply, sanitation and hygiene issues that lead to diseases, infections and malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Life-threatening illnesses aside, there are still a handful of issues with your everyday water. Here are a few of those troublemakers, plus how to avoid them.
There's some research to suggest that this chemical, commonly known as BPA, found in some plastic water bottles, can leach into food and drinks, and may pose health risks especially to infants and children, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Luckily, more and more BPA-free bottles are available now. (However, some caution that even BPA-free plastics may still leach unwanted chemicals into your water when exposed to sunlight or microwaves or dishwashers, NPR reported.)
Not Washing Your Bottle
A reusable bottle -- stainless steel, perhaps? -- is a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to one-time-use bottles or cups, but you've got to keep it clean. Bacteria like to hang out in warm, wet places, after all, so screwing the lid on the mostly-empty bottle in your office, then refilling it the next morning is basically laying out the "Welcome" mat. Luckily, all it takes to stay safe is a regular wash with hot, soapy water -- and be sure to leave it open to dry, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Drinking From The Shower Head
Speaking of warm and wet, it's time to clean your shower head. Yep, the spout is prime breeding ground for bacteria that go flying into the air when you turn on the shower. Luckily for most healthy bathers, this is less dangerous than it is merely gross, but people with compromised immune systems could be at risk, Health.com reported. Do yourself a favor and fight the temptation to sip from that fountain.
Drinking Way Too Much
It's relatively difficult to do, but it is possible to drink too much water. Seriously overhydrating leads to what's called hyponatremia, when sodium levels in the body drop so low, cells begin to swell, according to the Mayo Clinic. Untreated, hyponatremia could result in seizures and coma. But it takes truly overcompensatory gulping to reach that point, which is why refueling marathon runners are among the more common hyponatremia sufferers. Keep this rule of thumb in mind: Don't drink to the point where you feel full from water alone, Shape.com reported.
In and of itself, caffeine may actually do you some good, including improving memory and concentration. But when you add a jolt to something as harmless as a bottle of water, which is what companies like Avitae and Water Joe have done, it's easy to overdo it -- and fast. Where you might sensibly stop after a couple of cups of coffee, you might absent-mindedly continue to sip at your caffeinated H2O to quench your thirst, and before you know it, find yourself in the irritable, sleepless, restless realm of heavy caffeine use.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Drink First Thing
"Place a glass of water by your bed and drink it first thing when you get up," suggests Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., a nutrition spokesperson and author of "The Small Changes Diet," in an email to The Huffington Post. Try drinking it <a href="http://www.health.com/health/library/topic/0,,abk5466_abk5467,00.html" target="_hplink">before your usual coffee or tea</a>. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jkonig/2168435597/" target="_hplink">JKÃ¶nig</a></em>
Sip At Your Desk
Keep a reusable cup or bottle at your desk. When it's empty, go refill it. It's a great way to fit in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/sitting_n_1202800.html" target="_hplink">more steps during the day</a>, too! <br><br> Neglecting the bottle? "Put a sticky note on your computer to remind you to drink up," says Gans. If that <em>still</em> doesn't work, try setting a reminder alarm on your phone or calendar. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcestnik/3889059326/" target="_hplink">jennypdx</a></em>
Bring Water To Go
If you don't have a desk job, or even if you do, toss a water bottle in your bag to sip while you're out and about, says Gans. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/4105822390/" target="_hplink">Ed Yourdon</a></em>
Drink Before You Eat
When you sit down to a meal, have a glass or two of water before you start to eat. Not only can it serve as a reminder to drink more, but a 2010 study found that drinking <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823142929.htm" target="_hplink">two glasses before meals</a> helped people lose five pounds more over 12 weeks than people who did not increase their water intake. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/earlg/237204111/" target="_hplink">Earl</a></em>
Dilute Your Juice
If you're the type of person who'd rather reach for a sweet sip than plain ol' water, you don't have to cut out juice cold turkey. Instead, Gans recommends filling 1/4 of your glass with 100 percent fruit juice, then topping it off with water or seltzer. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/73981677@N00/5401688691/" target="_hplink">badoir</a></em>
Skip The Soda
If you find yourself reaching for a soda or other sweet drink that isn't 100 percent fruit juice, use that craving as a reminder instead to grab a glass of H2O. And if you can't quit those bubbles? "Seltzer counts as water," says Gans. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spencereholtaway/1412762050/" target="_hplink">Spencer E Holtaway</a></em>
Give Your Water Some Flavor
Still can't get over the bland taste? "Use fresh fruit or veggies to flavor your water," says Gans. Cucumber, lemon, lime and watermelon are tasty options, she says, and high in water themselves. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/riekhavoc/4665442112/" target="_hplink">Kaytee Riek</a></em>
Track Your Intake
Just as <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm" target="_hplink">keeping a food diary</a> can help you key into what and when you're eating, tracking your water intake can similarly shine a light on where you could fit in more fluids. There's even <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/waterlogged-drink-more-water/id352199775?mt=8" target="_hplink">an app for that</a>! <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/765880039/" target="_hplink">Steve Rhodes</a></em>