You know you're supposed to drink six to eight daily glasses of H2O for overall health, and new research published in the journal Obesity found that upping water intake boosted weight loss in premenopausal women who were dieting. But you've also probably heard reports of tap water containing some not-so-healthy stuff: A widely reported Associated Press investigation that was announced last year detected pharmaceuticals -- everything from antibiotics to mood stabilizers -- in the water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, and an analysis of tap-water data from 19 cities by the Natural Resources Defense Council found elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and hazardous chemicals. However, bottled water is not the solution: It's less strictly regulated than tap water -- last year, chemical contaminants were found in 10 popular brands, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group -- and home delivery of bottled water for two adults can cost almost $400 a year. The secret to safe hydration: Use a relatively cheap activated carbon filter for your tap water -- think brands such as Pur and Brita. "They'll filter out microbes, heavy metals like lead, and possibly even some pharmaceuticals," says Gina Soloman, MD, a senior scientist for the NRDC. "As long as your water comes from a municipal water supply, that's usually all you need."
The countertop pitcher and faucet attachment work the same way, and each costs around $50, including a year's worth of replacement filters. If your water comes from a well and has been found to contain contaminants such as pesticide residues or gasoline by-products, you may want to spend a little more: Zero Water, a newcomer to the pitcher-filter category, uses a more advanced high-tech filtration system and costs about $140 a year.
Relieve Foot Pain
BUY: Orthotic shoe inserts
INSTEAD OF: Custom arch supports
People suffering from the excruciating heel pain of plantar fasciitis will often shell out $200 or more for these specialized supports, but cheap drugstore versions are usually just as or even more effective. There's hard research to back this up: An investigation by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society determined that combining an OTC insert with some stretching exercises is the cornerstone of treating plantar fasciitis, says study author Glenn Pfeffer, MD. Bauerfeind Visco-Heel, a brand of inserts costing about $40 a pair, achieved the best results in the AOFAS study, but a runner-up brand called the Tuli Heel Cup, which also earned high marks, costs only $10. For ailments such as tendinitis and metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of your foot), OTC supports and pads also work just as well, adds Kenneth Jung, MD, foot and ankle specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
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Ease Back Pain
BUY: Lumbar support pillow
INSTEAD OF: Ergonomic chair