The Dirty on Water… How to Choose the Best Water for Improved Health

Ever since I was in primary school, I’ve been amazed by the fact that our body consists of more than 70% water.

Water is an important factor in the process of regeneration of the body. Each part of our body is constantly being regenerated and water makes this process possible, by transferring essential nutrients to our organs and flushing out toxins (1).

In order to maintain life on Earth, nature needs water and oxygen. Every process that our body does needs water. Water builds, regulates, transfers, cleans and helps to feed every single cell in our organism.

It’s been long shouted by health professionals that we should consume at least 8 glasses of water per day, for improved health (2). Recent studies even suggest we need more than this – around 3.7 litres for males and 2.7 litres for females (3).

I drink around 4-5 litres of water each day, which makes me feel fantastic but comes with the annoying downside of needing to pee a lot. Still, it’s worth it!

The quality of water that we drink can have a direct influence over our health, so it’s a good idea to source the cleanest and healthiest water available. There are different sources of water available to us today: tap water, bottled water, distilled water, mineral water, spring water, etc…

But which one is the best choice for us?

Water is the main ingredient of all bodily liquids including blood, lymph, saliva, secretion glands even the spinal cord. Water makes a large percentage of cerebrospinal liquid (4) and also has a great role in the process of digestion. If we drink enough water we can greatly reduce the impact of toxins and dangerous substances which are attacking us on a daily basis (5).

This study conducted by the World Health Organisation explains the nutritional benefits of drinking water, in regards to the mineral content of water and how this translates to good health. The findings showed that many essential trace minerals are found in our drinking water, such as iron, manganese, copper, magnesium etc – in some regions, the mineral content of the water provided up to 20% of the total dietary intake of trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium. For the majority of other elements drinking water provides less than 5 % of total intake (6).

Many of us know that unfiltered tap water contains fluoride. At school I learnt that this was because fluoride is good for your teeth – and therefore an essential addition to our drinking water. And that was that – no further questions were asked.

However, a large scale epidemiological study was conducted among 45,725 children in India exposed to high intake of endemic fluoride in the drinking water since their birth. Children with adequate dietary calcium (>800 mg per day) and inadequate dietary calcium (<300 mg per day) were studied, in reference to their intake of fluoride.

Finding showed that the toxic-effects of fluoride were severe and more complex and the incidence of metabolic bone disease (rickets, osteoporosis, and PTH bone disease) and bony leg deformities was greater than 90% in children with calcium deficiency, compared to less than 25% in children with adequate calcium intake (7).

So even if you are getting the recommended daily intake of calcium, fluoride has a toxic affect. I think I’ll steer clear of that one thanks.

Chlorine is also added to drinking water as a disinfectant, to combat microbial contamination, but it can react with organic matter in the water and become carcinogenic. According to Dr. Joseph M. Price, MD, in Moseby’s Medical Dictionary, “Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. It is an insidious poison” (8).

In a 1992 study that made front-page headlines, and was reported on in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that people who regularly drink tap water containing high levels of chlorine by-products have a greater risk of developing bladder and rectal cancers than people who drink unchlorinated water. The study estimates that about 9 percent of all bladder cancer and 18 percent of all rectal cancer cases are associated with long-term consumption of these by-products (9).

I think I’ll steer clear of that one too.

Many of us don’t think of water as a nutrient, but in my opinion it is the most important one. We can live for months without food, but only days without water. So I want to make sure the water I give to my family is good.

In order to be sure that the water we are drinking is really helping to maintain health we have to consider two very important aspects of water:

1) How clean is it?

2) How acidic is it?

If we consume large amounts of water with a low pH (acidic) over a long period of time, it can have a negative affect on our health. This means that the best water that we can consume is alkaline water.

PH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. The scale ranges from 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH of less than 7 is acidic, whereas a pH of greater than 7 is alkaline (or base). pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is alkaline. Since pH can be affected by chemicals in the water, pH is an important indicator of water that is changing chemically.

Also, water with a pH of five is ten times more acidic than water having a pH of six (10). Translation: it’s bad for us.

The body is actually quite adept at dealing with acid in the body and has ways of accomodating it. Normally, the kidneys maintain our ‘alkaline minerals’ (i.e. calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium). When we are exposed to acidic substances, these alkaline minerals are used to combat the acidity. High levels of acidity force our bodies to ‘borrow’ minerals from the bones, cells, organs and tissues. Cells end up lacking enough minerals which compromises our ability to get rid of toxic waste, and so toxins accumulate in the body and the immune system becomes compromised (11).

The problem is, if we continue ‘borrowing’ alkaline minerals from the organs and don’t replace them, pretty soon we start to become deficient in these minerals. It really comes as no surprise to me that occurrences of chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease has exponentially exploded in this country. In 2013, heart disease claimed the lives of 43,603 Australians (30% of all deaths) – deaths that are largely preventable (12).

We need to replenish our supply of alkaline minerals!

Alkaline water has higher pH factor than any tap water, which can help neutralise acidity. Unfiltered tap water has pH of 6 while alkaline water has pH of up to 9.5 (13). This suggests that in order to maintain an alkaline environment, we should ideally be drinking water that is alkaline also.

Alkaline water occurs in nature as a result of filtration through the minerals and stones in natural sources. Based on this natural process, many companies started producing devices to imitate this.

There are also other scientific methods to produce alkaline water. One of the most known processes is chemical electrolysis. By ionising the water producers of these devices are claiming that the water becomes more alkaline than with any other process.

One of the most popular methods of enhancing the water quality is called reverse osmosis. This process involves forcing the water through specific membranes using a large amount of pressure which removes foreign contaminants, solid substances, large molecules and other kinds of hazardous materials from water. This method, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is capable of removing led from water more efficiently than any other method (14). This method is also very good for removing excess amounts of sodium from the water, as well as toxins like fluoride and chlorine.

I bought a 5 Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter about 6 months ago, with an alkalising attachment to change the PH of my drinking water in favour of alkalinity. It cost me about $800 – and to this day I think it’s the best $800 I’ve ever spent! Though I saw recently Filter Systems Australia are selling them for about half that price. It’s definitely worth checking out, our water now tastes better than any bottled water or rain water – it tastes clean.

When tap water is all that’s available to me, I actually find it hard to swallow – it’s much thicker and heavier than my alkalised water, because it’s full of rubbish. And it tastes like I’m drinking out of a dirty swimming pool – which means there must be a heck of a lot of chlorine in there. It’s so not cool. I’ve kind of become one of those “water snobs” who bring their own water everywhere I go… You’ll understand once you taste and feel the difference!

A word of warning – the process of reverse osmosis can also filter out some of the beneficial trace minerals found in the water, so it’s important to make sure you are getting these minerals into you in other ways. Leafy green vegetables contain some of the highest concentration of alkaline minerals so please eat them daily. You could also add a whole food supplement like Juice Plus to your diet, which ensures that you are getting a good range of the nutrients of raw fruits and vegetables into your diet every single day.

Whether you decide to opt for a filter on your tap, alkaline drops, or even fresh lemon juice you’ll be making an enhanced version of water for yourself. The easiest method is to add a few drops of lemon juice to your tap water – lemons are highly alkaline and can rapidly change the pH of the water (but won’t do anything to filter the water, so it’ll still be pretty dirty). Just make sure to rinse your mouth out afterwards as lemon juice can damage teeth enamel.

Whatever you decide, your best ally in this project will be knowledge. We all want to make our lives better in some way, and my awesome water filter has done that a million times over!!! 🙂

~ by Tamara Brown, The Raw Food Girl.