Bottled water may not be any healthier or safer than tap water, according to Florida-based sports nutritionist and registered dietician Cynthia Sass, who says that fully 25 percent of bottled water on store shelves is actually just repackaged tap water! A recent Gallup poll found that we drink bottled water for three reasons. We think it: ...is purer than tap water. ...tastes better than tap water. ...is more convenient than tap water. While it may be true that bottled water is more convenient than tap water, the benefits end there. "Bottled water doesn't deserve the nutritional halo that most people give it for being pure," Sass told Reuters. "If you're not an exclusive bottled water drinker, you may find it worthwhile to check into filtering your tap water to save money." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water because it's considered a food, but tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both types of water are subject to testing for contaminates. However, when bottled water is packaged and sold within the same state, it is not subject to FDA regulation--and some 60 percent to 70 percent of all bottled water falls into this category. Buyer beware! Reuters reports that tests of 1,000 bottles of water representing 103 different brands found man-made chemicals, bacteria and arsenic in 22 percent. Tap water isn't perfect, either. While the municipal water in most U.S. cities does meet the basic standards, some tap water in the 19 U.S. cities tested contained arsenic, lead and pesticides, according to Sass. Healthy adults can easily tolerate trace contamination with such pollutants, but those whose immune systems are compromised, such as cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, those who are HIV positive or recovering from an organ transplant or major surgery, pregnant women, children and the elderly are far more vulnerable. So what should you drink? Sass favors three options: --Bottled water treated with reverse osmosis. --Distilled water. --City tap water run through an in-home filtering system certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. The findings were presented to the American College of Sports Medicine 11th annual Health & Fitness Summit in Dallas. ------------------------------------------------------------ One Drink Is Better for You Than Water If you want to be healthy, stay hydrated during the day by drinking lots of water. But don't stop there. You should also drink three or more cups of tea every day, according to researchers from King's College London, who have dispelled the urban myth that tea dehydrates the body. In fact, tea may be even better for us than water since it offers extra health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and possibly some kinds of cancer, reports the BBC News. Flavonoids, a mixture of polyphenol antioxidants that are found in many foods and plants, are the protective ingredient in tea that promotes good health. Flavonoids have also been shown to help prevent cell damage. "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid," lead study author and public health nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton told the BBC. "Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so its got two things going for it." In this study, the King's College team examined published research on the health effects of tea consumption and found clear evidence that three to four cups of tea a day will slash the risk of a heart attack. Tea will also protect against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, thanks to fluoridated water. The effect on cancer prevention is less clear, but there seems to be some protection for certain types of cancer. The conventional wisdom has long held that tea dehydrates the body. Ruxton says it's just not true. "Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate, and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate," she explained to the BBC. "But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid. Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth." The only word of caution: If you're at risk for anemia, you should avoid drinking tea since it can impair the body's ability to absorb iron from food. The study findings were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. --From the Editors at Netscape ------------------------------------------------------------ The Surprising One Best Drink For Kids What is the surprising best drink for kids? When your children are thirsty, THIS is what they should drink. And it's not juice or milk. If you want your children to be healthy and strong, give them water to drink. Skip juice and milk, both of which can make them fat. A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston warns parents that kids who drink the most milk--especially skim milk--are the fattest. Reuters reports that the three-year survey of 12,829 children aged 9 to 14 showed that those who drank more milk weighed more than those who drank less milk. "Children who drank the most milk gained more weight, but the added calories appeared responsible," the Harvard team wrote in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine in which the study findings were published. "Children who drank more than three servings a day of milk gained more in BMI than those who drank smaller amounts." BMI is a reference to body mass index, a ratio of height and weight to determine if one is of normal weight. Surprisingly, the real culprits when it comes to weight gain are skim milk and 1 percent milk. Why? Study leader and biostatistician Catherine Berkey suspects that kids are allowed to drink these two more freely than they are whole milk, which is known to have more calories. "The take-home message is that children should not be drinking milk as a means of losing weight or trying to control weight," Berkey told Reuters. So what can you give your kids to drink? Water. "The basic beverage should be water," Dr. Walter Willett, who worked on the study, told Reuters. "We know that in many parts of the world, kids don't drink any milk at all, and they end up with healthy bones." He said kids can get needed calcium from green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli.