Industry battles: Fizzy drinks vs. bottled water

Bottled water

For decades, fizzy drinks have dominated the bottled refreshment market. Visit any store refrigerator or cafe, and you’ll see shelves upon shelves of cola, lemonade, and sodas. However, the times, they are a changing! 2016 saw an explosion in the bottled water market, with varieties such as vitamin infused, coconut, flavoured, and medical water, and the consumers are paying attention. Between July 2016 and July 2017, bottled water sales in the UK outstripped cola sales, with 1.77 billion litres of bottled water being purchased, in comparison to 1.72 billion litres of cola, this is the first time in refreshment history that this has happened, and is the fourth consecutive year of double digit growth for the bottled water industry in the UK.

Continue reading “Industry battles: Fizzy drinks vs. bottled water”

Drinking Water: A Useful Weight-Loss Aid?

Nobody is going to dispute that drinking water is good for you; in terms of not only hydration itself, but also the plethora of knock-on effects such as increased brain activity, awareness and attention span, the flushing of harmful toxins and even relief from headaches and migraines. One benefit you may not have realised, however, is weight loss.
When I say that water helps you lose weight, I don’t simply mean that replacing sugary, high calorie drinks with water will benefit you in this manner, that much is a given. I’m talking about a few other little tricks we can play on our bodies, turning an average glass of water into an active weight loss supplement.
There are a couple of different factors that play into why water can be used as such. The first, when you think about it, is actually pretty obvious; water takes up space, space that you might otherwise use for fatty/high calorie food. A glass or two of water before a meal will substantially reduce your appetite because of this. Eat less, weigh less is the basic principle at play here.
The second factor is that water actively helps the body with the breakdown and elimination of fat cells, as well as actually increasing the rate at which your body burns through its fat reserves. So, not only are you taking on fewer unwanted calories, you’re burning through them quicker as well.
My advice? The next time you’re browsing the supermarket shelves, sifting through an endless array of quick-fix weight loss supplements priced as if they’re made of diamond dust, stop, turn around, and grab a glass of water instead. You could shave off a few pounds in more ways than one.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Understanding Your Cat’s Thirst Drive

As any good cat owner knows, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their diet must consist of meat. Similarly to their big cat cousins, domestic cats have a biological need to consume the tissue of other animals to sustain their life.

As a species, cats have a low thirst drive, because the majority of their water requirement should be met by their food source.  Wet food is always recommended over dry food because of the water content; 70-85% for wet versus 11% for dry (and that’s being generous). For those who feed raw, white meat chicken, for example, is made up of 69% water on average. In the wild, small game will contain 70-75% water.
A diet of purely dry food can cause detrimental health issues in cats. For one, dry food has a very low water content which can contribute to chronic dehydration later in life. Cats, as obligate carnivores, subsist on meat which calls into question the unnecessarily high carbohydrate content in dry food. Lastly, many dry foods use cheaper plant-based protein to fill the place of animal-based protein. What’s so confusing about these facts is that cats don’t need or benefit in any way from plant-protein or carbohydrates.  
A water-rich diet is extremely important for cats considering their low thirst drive. Cats fed a dry diet can often be found drinking more frequently and in seemingly larger quantities than those fed a wet diet. This does not mean that the cat is getting enough water by any means. In fact, a cat fed on dry food will merely be half as hydrated, considering that they aren’t receiving any supplemental hydration from their food source.
If you take anything away from this article, please let it be that cats need water. Switch to canned food, make your own raw food, simply do your research (1, 2), and your cat will live a happy, hydrated life. 

Jacqui Litvan
Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).

How Competitive Eaters Fit Water into Their Strategy

It’s pretty much a given that competitive eating is a gross, over-indulgence of food, one that’s better heard about than witnessed first-hand. Who wants to see a human bloat themselves beyond measure? Dripping with food-muddied water and abandoning every last shred of dignity in the name of Major League Eating, champions of the competitive eating scene have found a way to go against the pre-programmed fail-safes of their bodies. If you’re in the mood for distended stomachs, suppressing the natural gag reflex, and disregarding the body’s vital messages, then buckle in because we’re going down the gullet hole for this one.

Gurgitators, competitive eaters, fight against their bodies to perform incredible eating feats. Using water training (drinking a gallon of water in 30 seconds), or simply by consuming large meals regularly, competitors stretch their stomachs in an effort to condition their bodies to accept large intake quantities.

For the average person, nausea is triggered after consuming more than 1 litre of food. According to ESPN, gurgitators can surpass this standard by 3 litres or more! Aside from that, the calories consumed in one competition can range from 4,000 calories (18-25 hot dogs) to 12,500 calories (50 hot dogs), thoroughly trumping the recommended intake for the day, 2,300 calories on average for adults.

After the competition, some gurgitators will purge themselves in what has been labelled a “Roman incident” by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, or the IFOCE. Mitigating these events is the IFOCE, who have been drawing up rules, regulations, qualifying contests, and safety measures for this bizarre sport since its formation in 1997.

The accepted technique for gorging oneself is to dip food in water, thereby lubricating the food to make chewing and swallowing it easier. Virtually any liquid can be used to soften the food, but calorie-free water is the best choice considering the abhorrent amount of calories otherwise consumed. Past that, consumption methods are dependent on preference; breaking food into smaller pieces in order to fit more in the mouth for example, or eating different parts of the food separately.

Eating competitions, while entertaining, are unhealthy and potentially dangerous for competitors. Repeated purging will damage tooth enamel and the oesophagus while stretching of the stomach may eventually require surgery to retain normal functioning. Overall, I’d say to steer clear of this strange sport.

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).

Why Does Bottled Water Have an Expiration Date?

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of drinking water (and statistically, you definitely have), you might have noticed that much like almost any other consumable product out there, they have an expiration date printed on them. You might have just ignored this, or brushed it off, but at some point or another, if you did pay it any mind, a simple question probably came next – why?

After all, it’s water, provided that it stays sealed and nothing contaminates it, it should just sit there pretty much indefinitely with no issue, right? Well, yes and no. Strictly speaking, you can still open a bottle of water and drink it after it’s passed the use by date, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t expire, in some sense or another, eventually. 
If you take water with you to bed (and if you don’t, you ought to), you’ve probably noticed that it tastes a bit different when you take a sip in the morning than it did at night. This is because of prolonged exposure to the air. Even if you can’t see it, particles will settle in the water and start to alter its composition. It’s nothing to worry about in the short time, if you left a glass of water out in the open for a few weeks or even months, then it wouldn’t be safe to drink it, but shy of that it’ll just taste a little different.
Bottled water is sealed, so this effect is largely kept at bay, but not entirely. The bigger thing to keep in mind is not to leave it anywhere in direct sunlight, since the heat will loosen the molecular structure of the bottle and cause it to release BPA into the water. Too much of that in your system and it’s thought that your hormone levels will go out of balance, which is, of course, not great. 
So, then, why the expiration date? It’s largely a legal thing, all consumables are required to have an expiration date, particularly in the US, and while it’s only a ‘consideration’ in the EU, it still usually comes into effect. Usually these dates are completely advisory, based on when the bottle will start to noticeably alter the flavour with the release of chemicals. 
Of course, leave a bottle for long enough, and this will advance to the extent where there is a genuine health concern, but we’re talking about years. In reality, most of the health risks presented by bottled water are just as present when it’s new as when it’s been sitting in a cupboard for a few months. As we’ve previously pointed out on here, you’re often better off sticking with tap water. 

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 


The Problem with Drinking Tap Water Abroad

It’s considered commonplace advice when planning a foreign holiday to avoid the local tap water lest you become the victim of illness. This also extends as far as not using the water to brush your teeth and avoiding ice cubes in your drink. But we all manage to drink water at home with no such issues, so why is it different abroad?

As we all know, the driving force behind illnesses and infections like those found in such water is bacteria, parasites, and other microbial life and contaminants. While contaminants are, to some extent, present in just about everything we drink, exposure to new forms of bacteria will hit your body harder, as your immune system has not built up a response to resist the spread of the illness.
The water treatment systems in other countries may not be as advanced as at home, and other factors may make for unsanitary conditions. This makes it more likely for hazardous bacteria to form, promoting the spread of disease, especially in those not accustomed to the microbes found locally.
This ‘local’ distinction, as mentioned previously, is probably the main reason for holiday-makers getting ill. In most cases, the impurities found in foreign water supplies are no worse than those found in our own. The issue arises from the fact that in order to build up an immune response, your immune system actually needs to come into contact with mild forms of the bacteria, thus creating antibodies to combat reoccurrences. In the case of foreign tap water, many of the impurities will be a new experience for your body, and, as such, it will be unable to tackle it properly, as least initially.
The best advice for anyone going abroad is to play it safe. Unless you’re 100% sure that the water is safe to drink, invest in bottled sources and ditch the ice cubes in cafes and restaurants.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

What is the Ideal Temperature for Drinking Water?

This is a question that has long been debated online. While we all agree that water is tremendously good for us, is there any advantage to drinking warm or room temperature water rather than cold, and vice-versa? As it turns out, there are arguments for and against both, and most of them are perfectly valid. So, what are the pros and cons?

Arguments for Cold Water

  • Cold water tastes better – Not only does cold water seem to be much more refreshing, particularly on a hot day, it is widely agreed upon that it does actually taste better. This could be down to the temperature stimulating the mouth and suppressing other sensations, therefore effectively drowning out some of the more undesirable tastes, but that shouldn’t be taken as fact.
  • Cold water can raise your metabolism – This may have the knock on effect of giving you more energy, rather than relaxing you as warmer water tends to. Not only will you be more active, this could be helpful for those aiming to lose weight.
  • Cold water can help you lose weight – When we drink cold water our body immediately attempts to normalise the temperature, working hard to warm up the water. This makes your body burn more calories, and some swear by the notion that this boost weight loss. It’s unlikely to have a massive effect as far as I can tell, but it may help to some extent.

Arguments for Warm or Room Temperature Water

  • Warms water aids digestion – One often-stated downside to cold water is that cold constricts things, pretty much universally. The same will apply to your own body and the substances found within it. Cold water is said to harden consumed fat, therefore making it harder to digest. Warm water actually has the opposite effect, promoting a healthy digestive system by loosening any fatty deposits.
  • Warm water can relive pain and discomfort from cramping –It’s a common solution to apply a hot water bottle to common aches and pains. Drinking warm water can have a very similar effect, loosening muscles and reliving discomfort as it passes through your body.
  • Warm water helps you detox – If you are attempting to flush toxins from your body, any kind of water will of course help. By choosing warm water, however, you boost the effectiveness by promoting sweating, removing even more toxins from your system in the process. Drink it with a slice of lemon to get a healthy dose of vitamins, promoting organ health.
  • Cold water can actually raise your temperature – We touched on this point briefly earlier, but when you drink cold water your body desperately strives to regulate temperature. This can raise your body temperature as your body works hard to adjust.
  • Cold water can worsen pains such as tooth sensitivity and headaches – Cold drinks can be torture for those with sensitive teeth, and can cause significant discomfort if you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines. For obvious reasons, you will want to avoid this.

As you can see, both sides present valid arguments. Ultimately you will need to weigh up these pros and cons and apply them to your own lifestyle to judge which is best for you. 
One small extra consideration before we end: singers tend to avoid cold drinks before performing, as they can also hurt the throat and constrict the vocal chords. This point is only applicable to a certain group of people, so I decided not to include it on the main list, but it could be worth considering for some.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

The Best Types of Reusable Water Bottles to Buy

The validity of bottled water is iffy from the get go, but by far the worst thing about it is how much waste and pollution is created by the manufacture and circulation of polymer water bottles. Even when they are recycled, they can’t be used for any kind of consumable storage again, and many end up getting thrown away, and then ending up in the sea for animals to choke on. 
For this reason, the far more environmentally thing to do is buy a reusable container and carry that around with you, refilling it as and when. The problem is that it’s a broad, varied market, and it might not be immediately obvious which ones are the best to opt for, which is why we’ve put together this little buyer’s guide on the best options.
Uncoated Stainless Steel
While these tend to be a bit chunky, and fiddly to clean, there’s absolutely no chance of any contaminants leaking into the drinking water, which is a big sticking point. You can also put hot water in them, or even boil water in them if needs be (but obviously be careful about doing that). You can also get insulated versions, which are better for keeping things hot or cold. As for the cleaning, you can put a stainless steel bottle in the dishwasher, which is a bonus, but one thing to bear in mind is that they contain nickel, so avoid them if you’re allergic to it.
Soft Bottle
One issue that a lot of people take with portable water bottles is the size, and the fact that even when they’re empty you still have to lug them around. I remember it being particularly annoying at music festivals, which once resulted in me drunkenly discarding a perfectly good Camelbak bottle and then feeling like a bit of a fool the next day, a thirsty one. Soft or roll up water bottles can, as the name suggests, be rolled up and stored in small spaces. They’re made of a lightweight material that won’t affect the content or flavour of the water, and many of them also come fitted with microfilters, which remove bacteria from the water as you drink it.
Glass is heavier than stainless steel, but easier to clean and carries the advantage of the fluid inside actually being visible. The other benefit is that you don’t even necessarily have to buy a glass water bottle. Instead you can buy special caps in a number of varieties which will fit over a glass container sourced from elsewhere, like a mason jar or a glass milk bottle. The readymade kind tend to have silicone sleeves to keep them from slipping out of your hand an breaking, but once again this can be improvised with a rubber grip tube of some sort.
Most will argue that in a straight up fight between aluminium and stainless steel, stainless steel wins, but there are benefits to choosing the former. It has almost all the same advantages of stainless steel, with the drawbacks being that you can’t heat them up and they aren’t dishwasher safe. The benefits are fairly clear-cut though – they’re cheaper, and lighter. If you’re, say, a jogger, the lightness could make all the difference, as you don’t want your balance to be offset by a heavy, cumbersome water bottle. Older aluminium bottles aren’t BPA free, so avoid them, but the newer ones are fine. 

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 


Infused Water: Invigorate Your Hydration Routine with Natural Flavour

Infused water is naturally-flavoured water that can be made at home for the cost of ingredients. This easy-to-make drink can spice up your hydration routine by adding surprising zest to an otherwise bland beverage: water. It’s cheaper than buying bottled water or flavour packets/powders/concentrates, has health benefits, and makes water less, well, boring.

Infused waters take on the taste of fruits, vegetables or herbs of your choice. A combination of different elements can create distinct flavour profiles when overlaid with the nearly non-existent taste of water. Ingredients used to flavour will leech nutrients and antioxidants into water without adding calories or fructose to the finished product. A great way to supercharge your antioxidant intake for the day is to add chamomile or green tea to an infusion. 

For infusions done at room temperature (the quickest way to get the goodness into water), a couple hours is enough time to impart flavour. A bit more time is needed for ones done in the fridge, 3-4 hours, though length is up to taste and can go as long as 12 hours! Colour and flavour are more potent the longer an infusion is left to sit. However, if making a particularly strong infusion, be sure to remove the fruit once done. If left, fruit can decompose in the water.
Typically, unrefrigerated infusions should be consumed by the end of the day, whereas refrigerated creations can be stored for up to 3 days. There are special pitchers made for infusions, but a regular glass pitcher will do. It’s convenient and considerate to infuse a large batch at home for everyone to enjoy. With that, you can use a regular water bottle, although special bottles allow you to infuse on the go. Ball jars are great for trying many different kinds of infusions.

Once an infusion is done, fruits generally shouldn’t be reused since they lose most of their flavour in the process. If you want more out of your fruit, refill the pitcher once it’s half empty to mix richly-flavoured water with new water. The rinds of fruits should be excluded from infusions since they can leave a bitter taste. In the case of non-organic produce, the skins can contain pesticide residue and should definitely be omitted from recipes.

Naturally-flavoured water, in this case, does not refer to the zero-calorie concoctions replete with added vitamins, minerals, sugar, and artificial flavours (along with associated downsides). These drinks can contain unwanted additives like caffeine, colouring, and preservatives.

Now let’s get into some combos:
Jalapeño and Watermelon – Has vitamins C and A and flavonoids from watermelon, and vitamins A and C, riboflavin, and iron from jalapeños.
Apple and Cinnamon – Has vitamins C and B complex, phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids from apples, and cinnamon is associated with a load of benefits. Both ingredients can increase metabolism.
Raspberry and Pineapple – Has vitamins C, K, and E, manganese, and copper from raspberries, and vitamins C and B complex, manganese, and copper from pineapples; overall, a citrusy and vitamin-loaded infusion.
Lime and Basil – Has vitamin C, phytonutrients, and flavonoids from lime, and vitamins K, A, and C, manganese, and flavonoids from basil; but be aware that the acidity in limes is not good for tooth enamel.
Tomato and Basil – Has vitamins C, K, A, B complex, and E, potassium and manganese from tomatoes, and vitamins K, A, and C, manganese, and flavonoids from basil.
Orange and Fennel – Has vitamins C and B1 and folate from oranges, and vitamins C and B3, potassium, molybdenum from fennel.
Pineapple, Mint, and Ginger – Has vitamins C and B complex, manganese, and copper from pineapples, a ton of benefits from mintand ginger.
Peaches and Cayenne Pepper – Has vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex and potassium from peaches, and many benefits from cayenne pepper. 
Some guides (1, 2) review what ingredients are good to use, their benefits, and some unexpected combinations.
Make infused ice cubes using any of the above flavours for days when you just don’t have time to throw together infused water. Ice cubes can be kept for long periods of time and added to any kind of beverage to add another layer of flavour, or popped into plain water to infuse throughout the day.
Still seem like a lot to juggle? Water flavouring agents aren’t all bad, as long as they use fruit extracts derived from real fruit. Extracts are essentially the flavour of a fruit with nothing added. Some companies, like H2wOw, pride themselves on creating flavouring solutions without any of the yucky additives found in other commercial brands. 
Jacqui Litvan
Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).