Not to bust your chops for actually drinking water, but to bust your chops, a new study shows that you now have to be careful about the water you're drinking. As it turns out, the germs in reusable water bottles are akin to — get ready, wait for it — a public toilet seat. Sorry, didn't want to be the one to tell you, but also wanted to be the one to tell you, if you know what I mean.
The exercise experts over at Treadmill Reviews did a swab test of a group of athletes' reusable water bottles to take a closer look at how clean they actually are — they had an inkling the answers would be disturbing. And, as expected, the results, are scary. In each water bottle, researchers found more than 300,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter. Scratching your head? OK, yeah that number doesn't mean anything to us non-scientists. For comparison, a used dog toy will have, on average, under 3,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter. Big difference, huh?
What their researchers want you to know is not that you should now be avoiding drinking water, it's that you should be cautious about what kind of containers you drink from and how often you clean them. Basically anything your mouth touches becomes infected with bacteria. So the less mouth-touching surface, the less opportunity for bacteria orgies to develop. Slide top, screw top and squeeze top water bottles scored the highest on the germ scale. And by highest, I mean they were literally crawling with bacteria, most of which was harmful.
On the other end of the spectrum, the straw top water bottles scored significantly lower, providing accommodations for far fewer germs. But something to keep in mind — even though the straw top water bottle had less bacteria than any other water bottle, it still had less bacteria than a public toilet seat by only two CFU. So like, yeah, that's still pretty freakin' gross.
But we have to drink water and reusable water bottles are the greenest option, so here's your takeaway: if you're in the market for a water bottle, a straw top is your friend. But even so, you'll need to wash it daily. If you hand wash, make sure you use sufficient hot water and an antibacterial soap, or even a weak bleach solution. Or you can pop it into the dishwasher. And if you have the option, go for a steel water bottle over a plastic water bottle, they're less accommodating for bacterial.
So don't be discouraged, keep drinking your water and keep drinking from reusable water bottles. Just be smart about it. And maybe throw away your filthy collection and start fresh, especially if you've been feeling under the weather lately — your water bottles might be the culprit.
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