Why is water healthy

I hear ‘drink more water’ but no one can tell me why water is healthier than any other beverage. What benefits does water have over diet soda or milk?

I can answer the question about milk. Your body can produce only so much of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose in milk. Some people produce more lactase, some less. When your milk intake exceeds the amount of lactase you can produce to digest the milk, you get diahrrea and sometimes intestinal cramps.

Onto diet soda: It is not a proven fact by any means, but many there were some studies done which cite aspartame, aka nutrasweet, as a substance which can turn into methanol when exposed to heat. Methanol is a poison. I do not know if this is true or not, but a lot of people believe it. Also, diet pop that contains caffine can actualy dehydrate you. Another thing to think about is that people who are overweight and give up drinking diet soda often report a weight loss of up to 12lbs.

Not surprisingly, the Aspartame Information Center disputes that.

Drinking water is healthy because water is the medium by which nearly every process in your body is facilitated - diet soda and milk (and other drinks) are essentially water with other stuff in it - depending on the case, the other stuff might be something you actually needed anyway, or it might be neutral, or it might slightly hinder your body’s ability to use the water properly - since most beverages other than water are quite a recent introduction to the human diet, our bodies are more or less tuned to running best on water.

Well, it is certainly a fact that aspartame decomposes at high temperatures, liberating methanol. That’s why it’s no good for baking - the molecule breaks down, and no longer has a sweet taste.

However, the amounts involved are minute, so there is likely nothing to worry about. I drink diet sodas, but maybe only two or three cans a week. I wouldn’t drink a six-pack a day, but then drinking lots of any one thing is generally a bad idea. Variety is the spice of life, and all that.

It doesn’t really matter how you get your fluids. All this “drink two litres/eight glasses/a gallon of water a day” stuff is just hooey.

(As an aside, I was amazed when visiting the US how much people drink over there! I know it gets hotter than it does here in England, but still… 36oz soft drinks?? :eek: I can barely finish a regular McDonald’s soft drink serving without feeling bloated. That much volume would just kill me!)

Two of my aunts are dental hygienists, and they assure me that drinking too much diet soda is hell on your teeth. Even though it doesn’t have sugar, it’s rather acidic, and if you drink a lot of it, or drink it slowly, it’ll etch away your teeth. It can do some real harm to them.

Recently on the Today Show a doctor said that research papers have been searched and none have ever reported a study on the amount of water that should be consumed. She said that most people get enough from the food and beverages they consume in a day and that the body has a built in mechanism for determining if you need more water. The mechanism is called “thirst”.

Your point is a good one. However, I believe you are discounting the fact that in Europe there is hardly any ice put in drinks. In the U.S. we want our drinks cold and much of that 36 ounces is taken up by ice that is generally thrown away.

Aspartame is a methyl ester of a dipeptide (aspartic acid and phenylalanine); since the aspartic acid has 2 acidic carboxylate groups and only one of them is esterified, it’s no surprise that it would be acidic.

However, ordinary sugary soda is also acidic (pH about 3-4 I think) due to the carbonic and phosphoric acids used, so I doubt the tooth-eroding property is strictly limited to the diet sodas.

I doubt the aspartame is a significant contributor to the acidity; there’s plenty of phosphoric acid is most sodas, and it seems like a lot of them have citric, malic, and tartaric acids. The issue, though, is that people assume that since it’s sugar- and calorie-free, it’s safe for your teeth, while drinking soda constantly will screw 'em up. It’s not the aspartame directly, just the assumption that you don’t have to take the same care you would with sugary soda.

I once drank a gallon of milk at one sitting, just to test this hypothesis. Result: Identical to drinking a gallon of water at one sitting.

Calling the Mythbusters! Calling the Mythbusters!

Dental Hygienists get zero training when it comes to real-world chemistry or physiology. Presume that their knowledge matches their training.

What erodes teeth from excess soda intake is that you feed your oral bacteria very efficiently. “Diet” sodas do not feed them as efficiently. If your aunts want to maintain the contrary, I’d love to see the solid, peer-reviewed research articles they used to form their opinions.

How much heat?

How much caffeine intake will result in dehydration? Are you just spouting a bunch of anecdotal rubbish or can you back it up with solid, peer-reviewed research published in professional scientific journals. I await your evidence. Until then, I dismiss all you have to say.

Scientific journal data for the alleged weight loss claim, or is this more overblown rubbish?

Absolutely. It’s actually a recrudescense of the old 19th-century “water cure” nonsense.

Few things on soda:

Taking into account that much of our body is water (Cell Theory and all that) everything else (sans nutrients) needs to be removed. It takes energy to do this, so all of the extra stuff (if I may borrow that term) takes away from cell energy.

The carbonation in any drink is not so good for your bones.

Caffeine in larger amounts isn’t too great either. (other info here pdf warning)

Most standard drinks (this includes many juice drinks) also contain High-fructose corn syrup (a cheaper sugar substitute). It’s like sugar, but way worse on your system. Basically, it’s a carb that your body can’t burn easily, so it becomes fat. Further, being cheaper more is used, so you get more carbs per serving (not bad in itself, but most of us will end up eating more than we expected).

As for Aspartame, I think the jury is still out. Though I’m wary, one of my Biochemistry professors claims it’s a harmless amino acid combo. So far the only dangers proven are long debates over the dangers. :smiley:

Now I will say take all of this in stride: a soft drink here and there will not a Michelin man (with broken bones) make. But you can never go wrong with H2O.

It has to do with Purity Of Essence.
Anything else will sap your precious bodily fluids. Drink only distilled water (or rainwater) and pure grain alcohol.

Don’t you think you’re being a bit presumptious here to speak of every dental hygiene program and every state’s certification requirements? And maybe a little wrong? I looked at the dental hygienist curriculum at a nearby college. Among the required classes were Oral Anatomy and Physiology; General, Organic and Biological Chemistry; and Nutrition and Oral Health.

Well if we’re trading anecdotes now, I twice drank only a half-gallon of milk in one sitting. The second time was to be sure.

Result: Enormous gastric discomfort.

I routinely drink a half gallon of water in one sitting and have no such problems.

Hey! Two Mythbusters opportunities in one thread! As a kid, I remember that if I drank 2 glasses (probably 10oz each, I suppose) of milk in quick succession I’d start to feel “funny”, though I don’t recall ever getting violently ill. I probably just didn’t push myself to drink quite enough…

I’ve never understood this one either. My ex used to constantly tell me to drink more water, even though I drank lots of herbal, green and fruit teas. I understand the arguments against diet sodas and milk, but what about tea?