Here at Byrdie, when we ask celebrities to name their number one beauty tip, almost every single person says the same thing: Drink. More. Water. Everyone from Kourtney Kardashian to Zoe Saldana to Lea Michele swears that drinking 64 ounces of ice-cold water every day is the secret to staying slim, healthy, and youthful. But it's not just celebrities who have an obsession with hydration. Ask a group of American women to name a health goal of theirs, and I guarantee that at least one person will say to drink more water.
This American fixation on H20—and fear of not getting enough of it—got me thinking: What is the rest of the world's attitude toward hydration? Is everyone as neurotic as we are? And are people's tastes in water even the same in other cultures?
To find out, we asked wellness gurus from six different countries around the world to tell us about their country's water-drinking habits. And what we found was absolutely fascinating.
Australia—Where It's Tap Water or Bust
"The climate is so different in Australia—there's dry heat but in some places, it can also be humid—so you really can't go a day without bringing a water bottle with you. There's not really any ideal amount of water you aim to drink. A water bottle is just something you always throw in your bag, and since you're always at the beach or outdoors where it's boiling, you don't really think about it. Australians like drinking water, but it's also just a natural part of everyday life."
"As far as how they drink it, I think everyone in Australia is obsessed with refilling those glass Voss water bottles. Australians don't buy filtered bottled water, everyone just drinks tap water. I don't understand Americans' obsession with filtered water." — Sophie Miura, Lifestyle Editor at MyDomaine
Sweden—Where Birch Water Is the Latest Obsession
"Drinking birch water has become one of the latest trends in Sweden and is swiftly gaining momentum in the rest of Europe. It is considered a great health drink due to its high zinc, potassium, and magnesium content and has been claimed to help treat everything from cellulite and eczema to the flu and headaches, and it improves the immune system. It's popularity also stems from the fact it has been proven as a great slimming product, as birch sap eliminates toxins that the liver usually processes." — Frida Harju, nutritionist at Lifesum
China—Where Hot Water Is the Secret to Good Health
"You won't see someone in Mainland China drink cold water because Chinese people believe warm water can help you get your blood flowing, bring you inner energy (Qi), therefore you have more strength to fight all the diseases. They also drink lots of teas and broths, which are hydrating and energizing in the same ways." — Zita Bai, actress
Spain—Where Flat Water Isn't Even Water at All
"Vichy Catalan is the best-selling mineral water in Spain, and it has a very high TDS [Total Dissolved Solids], so it's quite strong. Spicy. In Spain, sparkling water is all they drink. So if you were to finish running outside and needed to be hydrated, you would drink this, not flat water." — Martin Riese, water sommelier
Iran—Where People Drink for Their Metabolism, Not Their Hydration
"Speaking as a first-generation American, hydration meant something very different to my Iranian family. My mother always pushed me to drink water infused with berries and citrus to ensure that my metabolism would learn to 'move faster,' so I wouldn't get fat when I was older (yeah, that didn't work). Water was less of an essential and more like a weight-loss supplement. Additionally, any form of hot water was like miracle medicine to my Iranian clan. From period cramps to a stye in my eye, I was told to drink hot water infused with lemon and honey since it would help cure anything… oh, and double up on speeding up my metabolism." — Shayma Hesari, Email Marketing Manager at Clique Media Group
USA—Where Filters and Bottled Water Are the Standards
"In the U.S., because so many people are hooked on soda and sugary drinks, there's a lot of anxiety surrounding whether or not we're consuming the doctor-recommended eight glasses of water a day. In an attempt to force our chronically hydrated selves to drink more water, we can get pretty extra with all the fancy glass bottles, filters, alkaline waters, and flavor-infused waters. To other cultures, it might seem shocking how much people will pay for certain water brands and hydration-related paraphernalia in this country." — Amanda Montell, associate Features Editor at Byrdie
France—Where Everyone Would Rather Just Drink Wine
"In Bordeaux back in the 1980s, I was introduced to the reputed oldest man in the Médoc. When asked the secret to his longevity, this spirited 98-year-old-who had spent his entire life tending vineyards replied, 'I drink a glass of wine every day, bien sûr.' But what about the so-called essence of life, water? Without hesitation, he answered, 'Water is for ducks.'" — Mireille Guiliano, writer at Bon Appétit