By Dr. Mercola
With all the different types of water out there and all the hype that goes with each, it can be very easy to get confused about which types of water are really best for your health. And, if you find yourself struggling with the environmental concerns of bottled water versus the dangerous chemicals in tap water, I understand.
That's why I created this page to help clear up some confusion and help you take control of your health.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Since most of you are no longer tuned in to your bodies the way your ancestors were hundreds of years ago, you may be overlooking your body's many cries for water.
There is a silent and growing epidemic of chronic dehydration. So many suffer from it yet are simply unaware of the symptoms.
Are you one of them? The major symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine and fatigue but take a look at some commonly overlooked symptoms of chronic dehydration.They are:
- Digestive disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
- Urinary tract infections
- Autoimmune disease such as chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis
- Premature aging
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
Types of Water – How Your Choice Makes the Difference
When it comes to water, there's more to choose from than simply tap versus bottled. Let's closely examine each so you can make informed decisions about your water and your health.
Tap Water – Danger in Every Glass
Plain old tap water: It's easy. It's convenient and it comes right out of your kitchen faucet. However, as I'm sure you've heard, most tap water is contaminated with a host of pollutants that increase your risk of serious health problems. Let's take a look at some of these contaminants and how they can adversely affect your health and that of your family.
As I've been stating in my articles about water since 2001, the level of arsenic in US tap water is incredibly high. This poisonous element is a powerful carcinogenic, which has been linked to an increased risk of the development of several types of cancer. In 2001 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the maximum level of arsenic permitted in drinking water from 50 ug/L to 10 ug/L due to the established cancer risk.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates as many as 56 million Americans living in 25 states drink water with arsenic at unsafe levels. For more information, see the USGS website, which offers maps showing where and to what extent arsenic occurs in ground water across the United States.
You may have heard how aluminum increases your risk for Alzheimer's disease, but did you also know that the aluminum found in your municipal water supply can cause a wide variety of other health problems?
Aluminum has been linked to:
- Learning disabilities in children
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Skin problems
- Parkinson's disease
- Liver disease
If you still believe fluoride in your drinking water prevents cavities and helps build strong teeth, you've fallen for a cleverly devised mass-deception.. As this recent study done on children in India shows, fluoride is anything but a cavity fighter. fluoride is a well-known toxin that actually leads to an increased risk of cavities and can cause a wide range of health problems, including weakening your immune system and accelerating aging due to cellular damage.
Prescription and OTC Drugs
You may have been told that if you dispose of your unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the trash instead of the toilet that you do not run any risk of it ending up in the water supply. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
As I mentioned in this previous article, water that drains through landfills, known as leach rate, eventually ends up in rivers. Although not all states source drinking water from rivers, many do.
According to studies, human cells do not grow normally when exposed to even minute amounts of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Some drugs that were never meant to be combined are mixed together in the drinking water you consume every day. Millions of people have drug allergies. Are you among them? If so, how do you know the strange symptoms you've been experiencing are not due to ingesting small doses of the drugs you're allergic to from your water?
Pregnant women should be especially wary. The toxic substances you take into your body from tap water will have a negative effect on the development of your unborn child.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)
Most tap community water supplies are treated with chlorine and although it may not be the healthiest element you can consume, it is far better for you than what is left behind. In my video, "Tap Water Toxins – is Your Water Trying to Kill You?", I interview water filtration pioneer Robert Slovak about the dangers of disinfection byproducts.
Disinfection byproducts are the result of disinfecting water with chlorine. It is important to note that while consuming chlorine is certainly not healthy, DBPs are TEN THOUSAND TIMES more dangerous!
In addition to being a powerful carcinogenic, DPBs have also been linked to liver, kidney and nervous system problems.
So, Bottled Water is the Way to Go, Right?
If you're thinking you're safe from all of the harmful contaminants I listed above because you drink bottled water instead of tap water, I'm afraid I must be the bearer of some bad news:
40 percent of bottled water is bottled TAP WATER!
Yes, you read correctly. As I stated in my article about the deceptions of bottled water, 40 percent of bottled water is just bottled tap water, which may or may not have received additional filtration. Remember the arsenic and DPBs you were trying to avoid from tap water? Well, an independent test done by the Environmental Working Group found these and 36 other harmful pollutants hidden in bottled water.
Also, drinking from plastic bottles is not a good idea. Plastic bottles contain a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA, which is a synthetic hormone disruptor that has been linked to serious health problems such as:
- Learning and behavioral problems
- Altered immune system function
- Prostate and breast cancer
- Risk of obesity
- Early puberty in both genders
Aside from the health risks, the devastating impact bottled water has had on our ecosystem is staggering!
Distilled Water – Use with Caution
Some health conscious people have been misled into believing that distilled water is healthy for them. As I've stated before, this is simply not true.
The problem with distilled water is that it is boiled and evaporated away from its dissolved minerals. The water then becomes acidic and seeks to balance itself by drawing minerals right out of your body. It will also draw out contaminants from the container it's stored in for this same reason.
What's worse, any contaminant in the water that vaporizes at a lower temperature than the water, such as volatile organic compounds, like disinfection byproducts that are thousands of times as toxic as chlorine, will be condensed and actually concentrated in the finished distilled water. So what you end up with is water that contains even more dangerous contaminants than what you started with!
I only recommend using distilled water for a short period of time and only for the purpose of detoxification, as this water can help pull toxins from your body. Drinking it long-term, however, will most likely invite health problems.
In my interview with water filtration expert, Houston Tomasz, I asked for his thoughts on the growing use of alkaline water. There are several potential problems with alkaline water.
First of all, most water ionizers and alkalizers are marketed by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies with questionable ethics
Some people experience an initial "high" when they start drinking alkaline water. This can easily be attributed to detoxification, and the fact that they are likely just becoming better hydrated.
Detoxification is about the only benefit of alkaline water, and this benefit is limited to very SHORT TERM USE (no more than a week or two). An additional concern is that many individuals have stomach dysfunctions like GERD or ulcers that are largely related to having too little stomach acid. Long-term use of alkaline or ionized water can interfere with your body's natural digestive process by reducing the acid needed to properly break down and absorb food. This could then lead to an upset of your body's good bacteria, which can then open the door to parasitic infection, ulcers and malabsorption.
For more information, please review my special report on this topic.
"Vitamin" Waters – Do NOT Be Fooled!
If you've recently switched from soda to vitamin water because you believed it to be a healthier choice, you may be disappointed by what I have to say about them: Vitamin waters are nothing more than a clever marketing scheme designed to promote a product that is just as unhealthy as soda!
Vitamin waters often contain dangerous high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial colors, additives, preservatives and caffeine. What's even worse is these manufacturers use distilled water to make their products, which, as you've read above, is one of the worst types of water you can put into your body!
Now that you know which types of water to avoid, let's take a look at the water you should be drinking for optimal health!
Filtered Tap Water – Getting to the Gold
The most economical and environmentally sound choice you and your family can make is to purchase and install a water filter for your home. I recommend three different types of water filters and weigh the pros and cons of each. Let's take a brief look below.
Reverse Osmosis Filter
In addition to removing chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants in your water, an RO filter will also remove about 80 percent of the fluoride and most DPBs. The major drawback is the expense of installing an RO filter as most need a plumber to get up and running.
Ion Exchange Filter
Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up.
The ion exchange system was originally used in boilers and other industrial situations before becoming popular in home purifying units, which usually combine the system with carbon for greater effectiveness.
Granular Carbon and Carbon Block Filters
These are the most common types of counter top and under counter water filters.
Granular carbon filters and carbon block systems perform the same process of contaminant removal, adsorption, which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter media.
Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel--the water creates pathways through the carbon material, escaping filtering.
Carbon block filters offer the same superior filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple media in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved.
Ideally, you want a filtration system that offers a variety of methods to remove different contaminants. Most systems do not address a combination of organic, inorganic, cyst, sediment and metals.
I'm pleased to announce that I have located a family of filters that I believe are the best filters on the market in terms of effectiveness, value, and ease of use. They are all manufactured in the U.S. under exclusive contract with a company specializing in advanced water treatment products, and will include both countertop and under-counter filters.
Living Water – Keeping the Balance
In choosing the right type of water for you and your family, you want to aim for pH balance. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline. The ideal pH of your water should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral.
Mountain spring water is in this ideal range. It is some of the healthiest water on the planet because it is "living water". Living water, like "living food is in its raw, natural state the way nature intended.
One of the main reasons I am such an advocate for eating raw, organic vegetables is because these "living foods" contain biophotons, small units of light stored by all organic organisms, including you.
Gravity-fed spring water is alive in much the same way. When you take this vital energy into your body, you are re-charging it with health and encouraging it to return to a whole and balanced state.
Now, when I mention mountain spring water, I don't mean the two-gallon jugs you see sitting on your grocery store shelf. I'm talking about water you bottle yourself from a gravity-fed spring. There's a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water.
The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free!
It is important to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers on your trip to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your pure drinking water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
So, how much pure filtered or spring water should you drink per day? Six glasses? Eight?
Well, here's a good rule of thumb:
You should be drinking enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow.
If you are outside on a hot day or engaging in strenuous activity, it is advisable to increase your water intake as needed. It is also important to note that as you age, your thirst mechanism works less efficiently. Older adults need to pay more attention to the color of their urine to see if their water intake is adequate.
Coconut Water and Vegetable Juicing – Adding a Little Variety
As I mentioned in a previous article, coconuts are an excellent source of fresh, pure water and electrolytes. Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for its immune-boosting as well as its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties so it's an ideal choice when you're sick.
An even better pure healthy water is vegetable juicing. I recommend buying pesticide-free, organic vegetables for optimal nutritional benefit.
Health Benefits of Drinking Pure Water
I can't say enough about the health benefits of drinking pure water. Here are only a few of the many health benefits you and your family will enjoy once you make the switch to pure water, it will help you:
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Properly digest food and absorb nutrients from food
- Have healthy, glowing skin
- Decrease muscle and joint inflammation
- Have better circulation
- Detoxify your body naturally
Finally, the extensively researched and fascinating book, Your Body's Many Cries for Water, should be required reading by all, and definitely belongs on every health care practitioner's bookshelf.