Water. It’s equal to 60% of your body weight and 75% of your muscle. It improves your muscle tone, helps you lose weight and improves digestion while reducing water retention. It keeps your skin clear, your organs running smoothly, and fights off chronic fatigue. It is hands down the MOST important thing that you will put in your body. The old standard was always 8 glasses a day, but the actual requirement your body has for water is 2.5 liters per day! By now, we’ve all heard and understood how important water is. Some drink tap water, some bottled water, some use filtration or distillation systems, but what exactly is in the water we drink and what effect does it have on all of the systems and functions of the body that water is so crucial in supporting? And what is the best source of water available to us?
Good old-fashioned tap water. It is readily available and convenient. In the US as well as many other countries, it has been deemed safe by passing through rigorous water treatment facilities. In poor countries without the resources, tap water is boiled or treated in-home to make it safe for drinking. Regardless of the state it comes in, tap water is the most accessible drinking water available today. But what about the water treatment facilities? How exactly is our water “treated” before reaching the kitchen faucet? And what effect do these “treatments” have on the people who drink it?
A frightening look at what is being added to our water. The water supply pictured will eventually be made “drinkable” at a water treatment facility and then make its way to your tap.
According to the EPA, drinking water in the US may legally contain (and still be deemed “drinkable”) chlorites, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chloramines, antimony, asbestos, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanaide, flouride, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, sellenium, thallium, atrazine, carbofuran, xylenes, and the list goes on and on and on. How do all of these contaminants make it into our water supply? According to the EPA website, some are put there intentionally to kill microorganisms and make the water “safe” for drinking, some enter the supply through run off of factories, fertilizers, etc., and some from landfills. The effects of these contaminants? Again, according to EPA, the effects range from hair loss to liver and kidney damage and even death. All of this information is freely available on the website of the very organization meant to protect the public from harmful environmental threats. By setting limits to the levels of toxicity allowed, they claim they are doing just that. But if we are ingesting 2.5 liters of this contaminated water each day for the rest of our lives, the average person will have consumed 68,000 liters and these “traces” of contaminants will add up and lead us to a lot of the medical conditions that are so prevalent in our society today.
Tap water sufficiently (and rightfully) demonized, enter spring water. Fresh, pure water gathered from natural springs around the globe, bottled, and sold at the local grocer. But it turns out pure spring water might not be all that pure either. The bottled water industry, unlike local water departments, is not legally required to disclose results of any testing done for contaminants… so they don’t. They don’t disclose the high levels of toxins – some known to cause cancer – which are found in their products. They don’t disclose that in some cases the water that is marketed as “pure spring water” is no different chemically than tap water. Instead, they print misleading serene pictures of natural water falls and mountains and allow consumers to believe they are getting a high quality water as opposed to contaminated water with a high price tag.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has even published its own tests showing that every one of the ten brands of bottled water tested contained contaminants, averaging 8 contaminants per bottle. The contamination exceeded not only the standards voluntarily put in place by the bottled water industry, but in some cases even legal standards. Basically, most spring waters are treated – the same as tap water – to kill bacteria and remove sediment. And others, well, there’s just no way to know where they come from because the information is not available on the labels or false websites and emails are listed which lead nowhere. Bottom line? At least tap water comes with a mandated report that clearly tells you what is in it.
Filtered water comes in many varieties as all filters are different. The most common filter on the market is the carbon filter. These filters are found in counter-top units, sink attachments, specially designed water pitchers, water bottles, etc. A carbon filter will eliminate most chemicals, heavy metals, water treatment byproducts, and bad tastes and odors (i.e. chlorine). These filters do a good job of making your tap water more acceptable for ingesting, but beware that there are two different types of carbon filters – granular activated and solid block. While both are designed with carbon which acts as a sort of magnet to attract the impurities, the granular activated carbon filters provide a breeding ground for bacteria as they become more saturated with impurities. Unfortunately, the point of saturated can be difficult to predict. Overall, these filtration systems are a good choice, but exercise caution with carbon filters and be sure to change them regularly to avoid a higher concentration of impurities from entering your water supply.
I saved the best for last here. Distilled water is by far the purest water available. The distillation process involves first boiling water and then condensing the steam into a clean container. As the steam rises, it leaves the impurities behind and when it is condensed into the clean container, all that is left is pure water. Distillation can be done the old-fashioned way with two bottles, a hose, and sunlight, or it can be done using counter-top units that come in a variety of sizes and made of different materials. Without investing a few hours in the distillation process, this pure water can also be found in the grocery store in the bottled water section. There is definitely a taste difference in distilled water – especially for those of us that have been drinking tap water laced with chlorine and fluoride and other countless impurities our whole lives – but if anything, this difference should only make it more clear how impure the water we’ve been drinking is.
The Bottom Line
Clearly our tap water is not fit for drinking – full of traces of heavy metals, contaminants, and loaded with nitrates, fluoride, and chlorine – so what is the best choice? With the ambiguity in the bottled water industry, it’s hard to know which brands are truly from a pure source, and filtration can be helpful, but some impurities may be left behind. Water is the body’s natural detox. When you drink pure water, you cleanse your body from the inside out. On the contrary, when you drink toxic, chemical-laden water, you can cause severe damage to your body – it can even lead to weight gain and digestive issues. You would not drink a bottle of pesticides or bleach or mercury, but you may be doing just that over the span of decades of tap and bottled water consumption. Distilled water is the most pure water available to us, and when you incorporate a carbon filter (solid block is preferable to avoid bacterial growth), you’re left with what is most likely the purest water you’ll ever taste. Making the switch now can have a huge impact on your health.