No road down Florida’s east coast is complete without a stop in historic St. Augustine and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Located in the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, the park features the remains of the first successful European settlement in the New World — including what Ponce de Leon believed to be the elusive Fountain of Youth. When my family made that trip when I was young, my parents thought it would be educational for my brother and me to see the Spanish Lookout Tower and archaeological excavations in the oldest U.S. city. I, however, was more interested seeing the Fountain of Youth. Although intellectually I knew, even at a young age, there was no such thing as eternal youth, in my imagination I saw old people – like 30 or something – splashing in the fountain and drinking to their hearts’ contents. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered the fountain was a spring accessed by a well and the only drink we could take from it was lukewarm and in a paper cup.
What I didn’t realize at the time was how vital that spring’s water was to the survival of some our nation’s earliest settlers and how vital water is to our health and longevity today.
Consider these facts about water:
- The average woman’s body is about 55 percent water. By the time we feel thirsty we have already we have already lost about 2 to 3 percent of our body’s water.
- While humans can live up to three weeks (pretty miserable weeks, of course) without food, we will likely die within three days without water.
- One-fifth of our body’s water is in blood plasma. It flows through the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells. Water also cushions our joints, protects our brains and helps regulate our body temperature.
- Drinking water regularly helps flush our bodies of toxins, aids in digestion and even keeps our skin younger and healthier looking.
So how much water do you need?
Many experts suggest at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily (more in warm weather and if you are exercising). Others suggest there is no set requirement of water per day, but that you should always reach for water when you are thirsty, as any added ingredients will dilute the hydration benefits of pure H20. To ensure you are getting enough, take a look at your urine. If it is straw-colored or pale yellow, you are probably getting enough water. If it is a slightly darker yellow, you could stand to drink more. Darker urine – the color of amber or honey – means you are not getting enough water and need some right away. Very dark urine – the color of syrup or brown ale – could indicate severe dehydration or liver disease. Increase your water consumption and monitor your urine color. If it doesn’t lighten up, call your doctor.
Your water doesn’t need to come from a fabled fountain or fancy bottle to benefit you. In fact, I advise against buying bottled water. In many cases it is merely taken from a municipal source, probably no different from what comes from you tap. (Read the label.) Regardless of the source of the water inside, most of the bottles –perhaps more than 85 percent — wind up in landfills. So do yourself and the environment a favor by filling your favorite to-go cup with your own well-filtered tap water, and drink up!
How to Ensure Healthy Tap Water
Want to know what’s in the water that comes from your tap? Under the “right-to-know” provisions in the drinking water law, all tap water suppliers must provide annual water quality reports to their customers. To obtain a copy, contact your water provider. If you’re concerned about impurities, buy a filter to attach to your tap. Better yet, if you can afford one – they are a bit pricy – have a high-quality water filtration system installed at the entry point of your water source to benefit from the highest purity level possible for all of your bathing, cooking and drinking water requirements.