Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Keeping hydrated whilst driving


Today, we'll be discussing something few of us ever stop to think about... staying hydrated whilst driving. We've previously given much thought to why you should stay hydrated in the gym, but why should you stay hydrated whilst driving? Bear with us, and we'll tell you why and how you should keep your hydration levels up whilst driving.

Why do I need to hydrate whilst driving?

Most of us are reluctant to drink much water during car journeys, as we try to limit our toilet break numbers, but this choice could be ill advised, even fatal. Scientists at Loughborough University (Watson, Whale, Mears, Reyner, Maughan, 2015), recently undertook a study on young male drivers between the ages of 22 and 26. They asked participants to undergo a two hour driving simulator, in which they drove a virtual car on a motorway on separate days, one where they were fully hydrated, and one where they were not provided with adequate hydration. The number of driver errors were recorded during these driver simulations.

The results of this study were very clear, drivers who were dehydrated made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were hydrated. Drivers who were hydrated made, on average, around 47 mistakes during the driver simulation, drivers who were dehydrated made, on average, around 101 errors. This is around the same amount as those with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, otherwise known as 'drunk drivers'.

How do I stay hydrated whilst driving?

Prior to any journey, ensure you are adequately hydrated and rested. Food with water content, can contribute to your hydration level, indeed certain fruits can provide a great deal of hydration, such as watermelons, which are 92% water. Ensure you hydrate at least 45 minutes prior to setting off on your journey, and you'll find your alertness and energy levels will noticeably increase. To reach adequate hydration, take your weight in pounds, and divide it by two. This will provide you with the number of water ounces you should be drinking in a day. Divide this out by your waking hours to ascertain how much fluid you should be drinking in the time before your car drive.

You should also check that the temperature within your car is ambient, as heavy use of air conditioning whilst driving can cause profuse sweating, leading your hydration levels to dip even more rapidly.

If you find you are thirsty whilst driving, if possible, pull over to hydrate, drinking fluid whilst driving is not illegal, but does make you 18% more likely to show erratic lane control. If this is not possible, make use of a straw cup, which will allow you to hydrate quickly, and does not require two hands. It's worth bearing in mind that it takes 45 minutes to become fully hydrated if you are mildly dehydrated, so taking time to pull over, and perhaps stretch your legs, is probably the wisest choice.

What next?

Equip yourself with the tools to remain hydrated whilst driving, monitor your driving environment, and increase your fluid intakes on warm and sunny days, and your driving mistakes will reduce, and your alertness levels will increase. It's a no brainer! To read more about hydration and driving, read these NHS tips, here.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Tea-ing off: The health benefits of drinking tea

Cup of tea
It may come as a surprise to regular readers, but as well as enjoying coffee, we also enjoy an occasional cup of tea here at The Water Cooler Today. Drinking tea, particularly green tea, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, where it is touted to cure everything from headaches to depression. In the UK alone, 165 million cups of tea are consumed every day. Today, we will be investigating the actual health benefits of drinking tea.


Green tea

Green tea in teapot
A teapot of green tea
The tea found to be most beneficial to health is green tea, which is made with steamed tea leaves. Green tea has a fresh, occasionally tart, taste. It is packed with chemicals that help the body to function, and to prevent certain cancers. It has a high concentration of something called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), a compound which has a powerful antioxidant effect, said to inhibit cancerous growth in the stomach, lungs, breast, and colon. It also works to counteract oxidative stress in the brain, helping to prevent diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Green tea has long been touted as a ‘slimmer’s tea’, but just how true is this claim? The key to this claim is the chemical, catechin, which is found within green tea. This chemical increases the body’s ability to burn fuel, increasing muscle endurance and allowing drinkers to exercise for longer periods of time. The antioxidants within green tea also help to prevent the clogging of arteries, reducing levels of cholesterol.


Oolong tea

Oolong tea
Oolong : More than just a fun word
Other than having the coolest name of all teas, what is oolong tea? Oolong tea is made up of partially oxidised or fermented tea leaves, this gives the tea a fragrant, sweet taste – it is often described as tasting floral. The health benefits of drinking oolong tea are less researched than, the popular, green tea, but there are a few which have emerged from studies. It has found to have cholesterol lowing effects, as well as working well to reduce blood sugar levels in drinkers.


Black tea

Tea pouring
Found in every greasy spoon across the country
Black tea is the most commonly drunk variety within the UK. It is made from oxidised or fermented tea leaves, and forms the basis for flavoured teas, such as chai tea. It has the highest caffeine content of all teas, and contains theophylline, a compound that speeds up your heart rate, making you feel more alert. Before we detail the benefits of drinking this variety of tea, it is important to state that these studies were concern black tea in its purest form – no milk or sugar involved!

One of the key health benefits found, is that black tea has a protective effect on your lungs, protecting them from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. This is due to the polyphenol that black tea contains, an antioxidant which helps to protect cells from DNA damage.


Herbal tea

The medicinal effects of herbal tea are less researched, and less reliable. Black, green, and Oolong tea are all made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is native to China and India, whereas herbal tea can be made with a variety of fresh and dried herbs and ingredients, which contain a lower concentration of antioxidants in comparison to the Camellia Sinensis plant. If you look in any alternative health shop, you will find boxes of herbal tea with a myriad of health benefits printed on the side. We’re going to be discussing the health benefits that have been studied and proven.

Peppermint tea
Refreshing peppermint tea
Peppermint tea

Perhaps the most popular herbal tea, is peppermint tea. This has a fresh and minty taste, and takes a matter of minutes to brew. Peppermint tea is often drank by sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, as it has an antispasmodic effect on the stomach and is said to aid digestion. It also works to alleviate nausea.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a soft and floral tea, that is anecdotally linked to relaxation and sleep. Certain studies have found that properties of chamomile tea can help stunt the growth of certain cancer cells, as well as reducing complications from diabetes.


Before you begin mainlining tea, you may wish to heed the adage – everything in moderation. Drinking excess amount of tea originated from the Camellia Sinensis plant leads to staining of the teeth due to the tannins found within the plant. The flavonoids found within tea can also have a limiting effect on our absorption of iron – so it’s best to avoid having a cup of tea with your meals.

Friday, 17 February 2017

The watercooler's journey

Glass of water

Visit any office, dentist, or gym and ask for a glass of water. You'll, most likely, be led to a watercooler. It's such a centre of workplace discussion, that we've named this very blog after it! It's easy to take this hydration staple for granted, but in today's blog, we're going to be investigating how the watercooler came to be what it is today.


The first cooler

Haws drinking fountain
An early Haws drinking fountain

In 1906, a plumber, Luther Haws, visited a public school in Berkeley, America. The pupils of this school sourced their water from a tin cup, that was shared around. At this point in time, typhoid was widespread and deadly, and originated from drinking contaminated water. Luther Haws believed that,  if the children could drink their water out of some sort of hygienic device, he could reduce the levels of typhoid in school aged children. Using his plumbing knowledge, Haws created the very first drinking fountain which was installed in the Berkeley School.

In 1909, Haws created the Haws Sanitary Drinking Faucet company, and patented his water cooler in 1911. The early watercoolers stored water in a sealed glass container, which were chilled with huge ice blocks. We wouldn't want to be around to help move one of those bad boys!
As electricity increased in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, it's influence spread to the watercooler world. In 1938, the first 'self-contained electric watercooler' was patented. With electricity in its early stages, we can’t imagine this combination of water and wires was the safest device in the world!

Bringing the watercooler to modernity

Bottle top watercooler
A plastic 90s watercooler
The seventies saw a boom in ergonomic design and accessibility, to capitalise on this, the Haws Corporation introduced the 'barrier free electric watercooler' in 1972. The barrier free watercooler was a wall mounted device that did not have a base unit, so that the space underneath the water dispenser was free. This allowed wheelchair users to access the water freely.

As personal plastic bottle usage increased during the eighties, the watercooler increasingly became a bottle fed device. In comparison to the glass cooler, the plastic bottle top cooler was easy to install, keep clean, and maintain. This ease of use allowed the usage of water coolers to spread from America,  to Europe and beyond.
As the workplace in the nineties became increasingly computer oriented, offices grew, needing increased hydration. This allowed the watercooler markets in Europe and the US to develop and grow.

From the noughties to now
Borg & Overstrom b5 watercooler
Borg & Overström plumbed in watercooler 

As design in the early noughties became increasingly streamlined and simplistic, the white plastic watercooler monstrosities of the nineties began to look rather dated and staid. Plumbed in watercoolers because increasingly popular, this is where the water cooler is plumbed in directly to the source of water.
The late noughties technology boom allowed watercooler manufacturers to increase the dispense options in their products. Merely offering cool and ambient water is no longer adequate, now you can dispense hot and sparkling water also. Watercoolers now come in all sizes and shapes, and are no longer reserved for the office. You'll find a watercooler in the corner of your local gym, in your doctor's waiting room, and in your local café, you might even find one in your own home!

The future

Those in the know, think that the next big area for watercooler's to conquer is the domestic market. We've all got filtered water jugs knocking about our kitchens, a source of fresh water that coolers and filters water is the next logical step.
What would you like to see in the water coolers of the future? Let us know in the comment section!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A review of budget water filters

Here at The Water Cooler Today, we’re firm believers that money should be no barrier to clean, filtered water. To that end, in today’s blog we will be reviewing water filter jugs available in the UK, that won’t break the bank, all weighing in at under £10.00.

Wilkinson’s – Aqua Advanced

Image sourced from Wilko.co.uk

Price: £7.00

Capacity:  1.5 litres

This nifty jug can filter 1.5 litres of water through an easy fill pour through lid. It also comes with a filter life indicator to let you know when to replace the filter. This jug is accompanied by a filter that lasts for thirty days, and replacements can be purchased for just £3.50. This jug is slimline, so should fit into your fridge door with ease, and has a soft grip handle to enable ease of use, however, it must be said, it is not the most attractive looking device in the world.

Buy the Aqua Advanced here


Tesco – 2nd Generation

Image sourced from Tesco.co.uk

Price: £8.50

Capacity:  2.3 litres

This basic jug system offers a whopping 2.3 litre capacity for just £8.50. It’s also complete with a multi-fit cartridge (meaning you can purchase replacement cartridges from most retailers). However, whilst the capacity and price for this jug is impressive, it has some definite negatives. Unlike most water filter jugs, the date indicators (a device that enables you to see when your filter cartridge requires replacing) is manual, the handle on this device is also hard plastic, which can be impractical and uncomfortable when the large jug is filled to capacity.

Buy the Second Generation Jug here

Asda – Home Water Filter Jug

Image sourced from Asda.co.uk

Price: £8.50

Capacity:  2.3 litres

We could write a review of this product… but it’s fairly clear to us that it is an exact dupe of Tesco’s 2nd Generation jug, just in a different colour!

Find the Home Water Filter Jug here

Aqua Optima – Liscia White Jug

Image sourced from Argos.co.uk

Price: £5.39

Capacity:  2.5 litres

Coming in at £5.39 at a capacity of 2.5 litres, this jug is an absolute steal. It is a slimline jug, meaning it can slide inside your fridge door without obstructing closure. This jug has an easy fill lid, and soft grip handle, so using it could not be easier. Unlike most of the jugs we tried out, the Aqua Optima filter lasts for sixty days, our only complaint? This jug system has no expiration indicator, so it’s down to you to remember when those sixty days are up.

Find the Liscia Jug here

Brita – Aluna

Image sourced from Amazon.co.uk

Price: £10.00

Capacity:  2.4 litres

The industry heavyweight, Brita, weighs in at the upper limit of our affordability scale, with the Aluna pricing up at £10.00. So, what do we get for this price? The Aluna offers 2.4 litre capacity (although only a 1.4 litre capacity filtered). However, it does come with an electronic memo cartridge to let you know when it’s complementary Brita MAXTRA cartridge requires replacing. The downside to this bargain jug? When you do wish to replace the cartridge, the Brita branded filters do tend to be more expensive than generic or supermarket branded cartridges.

Find the Aluna jug here


Yukong – Filter Kitchen Water Purifier

Image sourced from Amazon.co.uk

Price: £5.55

Capacity:  2.5 litres

Our second cheapest on our bargain jug list, this jug is not short of features. With an overall capacity of 2.5 litres, and a filtered capacity of 1.3 litres, this product can easily cater for a family. It has an easy fill flip lid, and an easy grip non slip handle so it is relatively easy to fill and dispense. However, as a cylindrical shaped jug, it may not be as easy to slide into your fridge door as some of the other jugs on our list, but at £5.55, we’re not sure we mind so much!

Find the Yukong Water Purifier Jug here.

And the winner is…

It’s a tight competition, and the jug you choose should depend on your requirements, but our favourite all rounder has to be the cheapest jug of the bunch – the Aqua Optima Liscia. Not only do we love the price, but we love how easy this little jug is to use. What water filter jug do you use in your home? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Alternative waters : The line up

In recent years, beverage industry heavy weights have been upgrading the most essential refreshment there available, the humble bottle of water. Water is now available in every flavour under the sun, as well as sourced from all over the globe, and from every plant imaginable. With this plethora of options available, it can be difficult to decide just how we would like to consume our h20. Help is at hand, today we are talking you through the alternative waters available, and discussing whether they’re worth the extra money.

Coconut water

Please note, sunshine is not guaranteed with your coconut water
The big hitter of the alternative water world, coconut water has been on the hydration scene for some time. Coconut water converts credit this beverage with all sorts of health benefits, from weight loss, to skin improvement, from being a hangover remedy, to the ultimate sports drink. The evidence for some of these claims is, to say the least, woolly. But here's what we do know. Coconut water is rich in potassium and sodium, so drinking coconut water post exercise may help to replenish lost fluids, it also packs a whopping 100% of your daily vitamin C requirements. However, it is not all good news, coconut water has 12g of sugar per eight fluid ounces. This is a lot less than most sports drinks, but is still 12g more sugar than simple water contains!  

Aloe water

Aloe vera plant
Aloe vera: Just add filtered water
You may be used to rubbing on aloe vera to your sunburn and bites, but healthy foodies have recently begun suggesting we drink the stuff! Liquid aloe vera in it's purest form tastes bitter, so producers mix the pure liquid with filtered water to create a beverage containing absolutely no calories, fat, or sugar. So, if it doesn't consist of any of that stuff, what exactly is in this green drink? Aloe vera water serves up quite the punch of amino acids, minerals, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 (and breathe!).

Watermelon water

I been drinkin... watermelon..
Make like Beyoncé, and start drinking your watermelon. Watermelon water is made up of cold pressed watermelon flesh, mixed with watermelon rind, and lemon juice. Aside from wanting to be more like Beyoncé, why should you drink this stuff? Watermelon water is purported to pack six times the electrolytes of the average sports drink, with added nutrients such as citrulline, lycopene, and potassium. However, just like coconut water, this beverage contains 12g of sugar per eight fluid ounces, so consume in moderation.

Maple water

Maple leaf
Now available in fluid format
You may be more used to pouring maple syrup on your pancakes than drinking it in your water, but maple water is purported to be the next big drink. Extracted from maple trees during sap harvesting season, this drink has a light maple flavour, and only 4g of sugar per eight ounces. However, unlike watermelon or aloe water, maple water does not include any nutrients that don't exist already in your plain water, containing just 3% of your daily calcium nutrients, and trace minerals and antioxidants. What's more, the price tag for this drink can be hefty, averaging in at around £2.50 per 250ml bottle.

Birch water

Birch trees
Nature's water cooler

Last on our list is birch water. Like maple water, it has only recently begun to appear in supermarket shelves and chemists, but it is increasing in popularity rapidly. Birch water is sap directly tapped from birch trees, this is naturally fermented, and can only be collected for one month of the year. This rarity, means a rather large price tag. So, what are the benefits of drinking birch water? These little bottles contain 17 amino acids, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. It is isotonic, meaning it is equal in concentration to your bodily fluids. This allows it to provide rapid hydration and electrolyte replacement post workout.

To conclude

Marketeers like to add all sorts of buzzy claims to water products, from being the ultimate hangover cure, to supercharging your body post work out. It's important to remember that none of these drinks will provide you with all of the nutrition you need in any specific area, and can often add nutrients you shouldn't be consuming too much of (we're looking at you, sugar). Our recommendation, is that you enjoy these alternative waters sporadically, and gain most of your daily hydration from good old fashioned water.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Water sommeli-what?!

This week, we’re delving into the mysterious job role of water sommelier. Yes, you heard correctly, a sommelier for water. Usually a sommelier is a wine professional, who specialises in all elements of wine service and taste, as well as which wine suits specified food, a water sommelier does the same job… but for water! It takes years to qualify as a water sommelier and, frankly, we’re too lazy, but we asked a water sommelier to give us the basics of water tasting, and this is what they told us…

The taste of water
We're dropping some water science on you

Now I see your wrinkled brow, ‘the taste of water?’, you say, ‘but water doesn’t taste of anything?’. According to those in the h20 know, you’d be wrong on that count. Water sommeliers state that water tastes different depending on the region and depth from which it comes from. As water falls, it filters through layers of earth, and picks up different minerals along the way, these vary according to location, and affect the taste of the water itself.

Now, all waters have a different Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels, this refers to any minerals, salts, or metals that are dissolved in your water, TDS levels vary from very low (10-40), to very high (around 7000). Water with a higher TDS level contains larger amounts of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These additions make your water taste harder, and occasionally saltier.

Water types

Looks like a solid glass of artesian water to us...
Advertising tells us that the best water is the purest, filtered and chilled to within an inch of its life. However, our water sommelier rates this type of water very lowly. Water with removed impurities is referred to as distilled water. This is achieved by boiling the water, and condensing the steam into a clean container. This results in a very bland tasting beverage. Long term consumption of distilled water is not recommended, as it can lead to mineral deficiencies.

Mass produced waters, such as the type you find in plastic bottles in the supermarket, are referred to as purified water. These originate from a municipal source, and are filtered to remove impurities and minerals via reverse osmosis. These can taste bland due to their low TDS levels, but work well with salads, as they don’t overpower the flavours.

Another water we all will have heard of, with more than 3000 brands currently available, is mineral water. This is water that originates from natural springs or a geologically and physically protected underground water source, and must have a TDS level of at least 250.

Other types of water include artesian water (tapped from an artesian aquifer), well water (water pumped from the ground mechanically), rain water (this can be bottled for very low mineral tap water), iceberg water (water from melted icebergs), glacier water (water tapped from glaciers), and deep sea water (water sourced from the bottom of the ocean floor).

How do I upgrade my water?

Are you looking at your sad bottle of supermarket water, and wishing you could upgrade? Never fear, water sommelier, Michael Mascha, has created an online encyclopaedia of bottled water, he provides details about their recommended temperature, origin, and what food they are best served with. It’s called FineWaters, and you can find it here.  

Has our blog inspired you to change up your career to be a water sommelier? Or is this a lot of faff about nothing? Let us know in the comments!
Water sommeli-what?!