Bacteria: What’s Growing in Your Water Bottle?

Every time you bring your water bottle to your lips, you're ingesting hundreds of thousands of bacteria. In fact, the average athlete's water bottle has billions of bacteria growing in it at a rate of 313,499 CFUs of bacteria per square centimeter. (1)

That’s more bacteria than you would find on a toilet seat or in your pet’s food dish.

The scientists identified four categories of bacteria commonly found in water bottles, and here’s the kicker: some of these bacteria could kill you.

The Four Kinds of Bacteria in Your Water Bottle

  1. Gram-Negative Rod Bacteria

Bacteria are categorized as either "rods" (because they're rod-shaped) or cocci (because they're round in shape).

Gram-negative rods make up 99 percent of the bacteria in water bottles, and in terms of health risks, they’re the worst of the worst. (2) The much-dreaded E. Coli is one common example found in water bottles, although there are many other gram-negative bacteria potentially lurking in your water.

These bacteria can cause blood infections, pneumonia and more. Even worse, many of these bacteria have grown resistant to drugs, meaning they're hard to kill if they get you sick.

Unless you’re using a hygienic water bottle specially designed to resist bacteria, every sip you take exposes you to these bacteria risks!

  1. Gram-Positive Cocci Bacteria

Gram-positive cocci are the second most common bacteria found in water bottles.

These bacteria cause things like blood poisoning and strep throat. Flesh-eating bacteria is another example often found in dirty water.

  1. Bacillus

Bacillus is all around you in nature, so it's not surprising that some of these bacteria end up in your drinking water. While there are a few types of Bacillus that are harmful, most types of Bacillus won't do you any harm.

  1. Gram-Positive Rod Bacteria

Unlike their gram-negative counterparts, gram-positive rod bacteria are generally harmless. While there are a few that can cause infections, most of the ones you find in your water don't pose much risk to your health.

Avoiding Bacteria Problems

  • Invest in a hygienic water bottle
  • Wash your water bottle every day
  • Allow your water bottle to dry completely, as bacteria love constantly moist surfaces

The bacteria potentially lurking in water shouldn’t be a cause for fear. With the right education, you can enjoy your water without having to worry about its potential health effects. After all, your drink should be delicious and hydrating - not scary or dangerous!

For more information about bacteria in water bottles read this recent article covering the basics of bacteria and why you should be cautious. 

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