If you don't wash your water bottles that often, science says you should start. New research from Brazil has demonstrated that the bottles you're taking to yoga and the gym may be infested with bacteria that can harm you.
During the study, researchers intercepted gymgoers and asked to test their water bottles. Compared to a control sample of new bottles, they found that 83% of the used ones had significant bacterial growth in them. There was a cornucopia of pathogens, most commonly Staphylococcus aureus (27% of bottles), which causes staph infections, and E. coli (17% of bottles).
The results are not particularly shocking. Most people don't clean their water bottles that often. Can these bacterial loads make you ill? Potentially, yes. It depends on how bad the infestation is, how much of it you drink and how robust your immune system is.
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The bacteria probably gets in there through your hands. So after you use the bathroom, wash your hands. Or, anytime you're loading a drink into the bottle, wash your hands first. Simple stuff, that can save you from a nasty E. coli infection.
Another measure you can take is to wash the bottle before you use it each time. Others run theirs through the dish washer after they're used.
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We may not be washing our hands thoroughly or long enough, either. Experts say you're supposed to scrub aggressively, between fingers, under your nails, for longer than you think you need to. Sort of like brushing your teeth for two minutes instead of the cursory few swipes most people administer.
Using glass or metal bottles is also preferable to using plastic. Also, don't share bottles.