💧 Is Your Water Safe? 🥤

isyourwatersafe

With many resolutions around improving health in the new year, one of the specific goals people mention is to “drink more water.” While that is a foundational aspect, you might want to consider first the quality of the water you’re drinking before you increase the quantity. Why?

Water’s unique properties and qualities are what make it essential to us. It helps the human body use minerals and nutrients so that we can:

  • Digest food and eliminate waste products
  • Oxygenate our blood
  • Manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Lubricate our joints as well as protect our brain and spinal cords.

Water is essential for the body’s tiny cells so that they can grow and perform their specialized functions.

The human body’s percentage of water will vary due to age, sex, and body composition. Babies and toddlers have higher percentages of water (65-78%) than adult males (60%) and females (55%). Obese individuals bodies will be a lower percentage of water, because fat tissue doesn’t contain as much of it as lean tissue does.

Water Drinking Guidelines

How much water your body needs will depend upon your age, sex, activity level, and living location (you’ll likely need to drink more water in the desert of Arizona than Alaska). On average, men are advised to get 3 liters of water per day and women 2.2 liters; however, remember that all of this doesn’t have to come from drinking it, as we can also get water from some of the foods we eat.

Too much water can cause minerals imbalances and disrupted sleep. Too little can lead to feelings of hunger and sugar cravings and can cause dehydration, fatigue, poor digestion, skin breakouts, and headaches.

So now we know why water is so important to our bodies and roughly the percentage of water our bodies contain. We also understand the importance of hydration; however, have you considered what you’re hydrating with? If it’s with tap water, bottled, a lightly purified version, or something fancier and carbonated, you’ll want to read on.

Water Safety & Quality

While we’d all like to believe that the water coming out of our faucets is from the purest of mountain springs, that simply is not the case. As you’ll see, the water we drink is fraught with potential peril.

Tap water is the most readily available source, but it may not always be the safest option. While some cities have very good purification systems, others may leave traces of chlorination byproducts, agricultural runoff, lead, chemicals and bacteria.

As a starting point, research your city’s Consumer Confidence Report; it is distributed each year by the Environmental Protection Agency. It may not have all the information you’d want to see, but it can alert you to get further testing and to see if additional home water purification is imperative.

Should I be concerned if my water has fluoride in it?

Even though there’s a ‘legal limit’ to set for fluoride, the water you drink, especially from the tap, may contain 5x more than what is healthy.  It’s tempting to think that fluoride is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and therefore has undergone the same testing that medicine do; however, it is isn’t regulated by the FDA and hasn’t been rigorously tested. Stay tuned and check out Fluoride: Cavities & Hypothyroidism to learn more.

Some things to know about our water if you’re living in Columbus, Ohio:

  1. Remember the movie Erin Brockovich? Guess what, we have had the same cancer-causing chemical  in our water.
  2. This year, The Columbus Dispatch revealed the highest ‘forever chemical’ content found in our water sample was perfluorobutyrate (PFBA) at 4.8 parts per trillion.

What to do if you want Safer Water

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Since it seems easier to control what you do with the water inside of your home than to enact city- and state-wide change, here are some options to consider:

1. Distilled water. Distillation is a process consisting of boiling water which has been found to remove impurities and toxins. However, some believe the naturally occurring minerals in non-distilled water are beneficial to our health.

2. Bottled water. Most homes get their water from their local water supply company (others often use well water) and, if they aren’t drinking the tap water, they are buying cases of bottled water. Is that really safer? Sometimes bottled water is not from a spring, but it’s tap water that has been purified. Also, there is the issue of plastics leaching into the water and the environmental impact. You may want to consider if the company who is selling your bottled water fits your values (vote with your dollars accordingly).

3. Carbon filters. The carbon filter in many of the refrigerators and pitchers people use will clean up some of the chlorine and improve taste and odor. That’s about it though; these filters don’t typically remove the chemicals and heavy metals that can be present.

4. Reverse osmosis filtration. This is the next step up, and one of the best options. There’s typically a pre-filter to remove sediment and then the reverse osmosis membrane has such tiny holes that only pure water can get through. There are options for re-mineralizing water and alkalizing it through ion-exchange. See the RKIN Reverse-osmosis water filtration systems we tested and use in this video. The counter top version is great for portability; for larger families, the whole-house reverse osmosis system is a good option. Remember to get 10% off your order.

Bottom line

Water filters can help remove contaminants and environmental toxins that enter our water systems.

Keep in mind, it’s easier to remove contaminants from the water we drink than it is to remove them once they’ve been absorbed and assimilated into the body.

One of the simplest actions we can take is to ensure we are drinking high-quality water, and enough of it.

Water Wars: Bugs & Politics

In 2017, 5.3 billion people drank water from safe sources – meaning local water sources that were readily available and free from contaminants, while 2.2 billion people were drinking from water sources that weren’t managed safely.

The following numbers are provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding water sources and accessibility:

1.4 billion people have basic services, meaning an improved water source located within a round trip of 30 minutes & 206 million people with limited services, or an improved water source requiring more than 30 minutes to collect water

435 million people taking water from unprotected wells and springs & 144 million people collecting untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Drinking water that is not treated properly and poor sanitation practices is associated with several diseases including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Let’s take a look at this more specifically. What’s in the water that can lead to disease?

Cholera– caused by ingesting Vibrio cholerae found in water or food items that have been contaminated by feces from a person infected with Cholera. Cholera can also result from eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea. Most of the germs that cause diarrhea are spread through drinking water or eating food contaminated with feces.

Dysentery – often caused by Shigella species (bacillary dysentery) or Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery), dysentery can be diagnosed when an individual is exposed to water and food that has been contaminated by with feces. Additionally, a person can be diagnosed with dysentery when touching human or animal feces without washing their hands in an appropriate manner.

Hepatitis A – a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver, it is caused by eating food or water contaminated with feces. Moreover, Hepatitis A can be caused by inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

Typhoid Fever – caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, this is a significant health threat for children in developing nations. Although it is rare in countries with modern water quality improvement infrastructures in place, typhoid can also spread through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected individual.

Polio – yet another illness that can result from water and food contaminated with feces. It can also be passed through direct contact with someone who has the virus already. Untreated polio can lead to nerve injury and ultimately paralysis. Polio has largely been eradicated in the world due to modern medicine.

Global & Local

Surely safe drinking water is largely an issue in for other countries; the U.S. doesn’t have these problems, right? Wrong! 4.32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness occur each year due to drinking water from public drinking water systems. This number does not include the number of illnesses that arise out of private wells, recreational water, etc.

There is still a lot of research being done to understand the full extent of waterborne illness in our country. Waterborne illness symptoms look different depending on the virus or bacteria involved, including gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache), respiratory illness (coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia), wound infections, and infections involving the ears, eyes, and skin. With that said, research about water quality are of the utmost importance. Our adult bodies consist of 60% water, and we need water to survive.

Water Politics

At a certain point, there may not be enough water to sustain life on this planet. Governments and corporations have been working together and suggesting that water privatization is the best solution for this problem. Is it? Maybe. Maybe not. As more public sources of water are sold or ‘rented out’ to corporations, some are sounding alarms. Water is a precious commodity and, as a commodity, its price can fluctuate. Corporations may be able to raise prices on this essential nutrient and control who is able to obtain it. In other words, water may end up going to the highest bidder. On the this side of the debate are also those who say that water is a human right and should be universally available, not just for those at a higher income level.

Water: A Human Right or a (Paid) Privilege?

Water. It’s essential for human growth, maintenance, and life. It’s at the very base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs along with food, warmth, and rest. Though nature supplies a bounty and most of us would agree that having access to clean water is, or at least should be, a human right…Peter Brabeck, the former CEO of Nestle seems to consider this an extreme idea.

If you haven’t seen the video already, take a look. Around the 1:30 minute timeframe, first he lambasts the idea of organic foods being ‘best’, saying, “after 15 years of eating GM food products in the USA, not one single case of illness from eating them has occurred to date. And in spite of this we’re all so uneasy about it in Europe that something might happen to us.” This is not true as quite a few studies have found GMOs and associated chemicals can cause a myriad of health issues including cancer, digestive problems, and other serious health issues.

Back to the water discussion taking place around the globe. Try 2:30 minutes in and you’ll hear some truly astounding statements straight from the horse’s mouth:

Brabeck admits water “is of course the most important raw material we have today in the world,” then adds, “it’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right.”

He elaborates “That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.” The other “less extreme” view he espouses is that “water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value.”

Of course he’d be in favor of privatization of water. It would make him and his company wealthier and more powerful.

“Personally I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware that it has its price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water, and there are many different possibilities there.”

It almost sounds philanthropic…but wait (!!):

In a interview for BigThink in 2010, Brabeck says,“if Nestlé and myself have become very vocal in the area of water, it was not because of any philanthropic idea, it was very simple: by analyzing – what is the single most important factor for the sustainability of Nestlé [emphasis added], water came as [the] number one subject.”

“I think this is part of a company’s responsibility,” – maintaining and ensuring the success of Nestle’s corporation -“now, if I was in a different industry, I would have a different subject, certainly, that I would be focusing on.”

Perhaps you’d like to read how Nestle responds.

We are not here to tell you what to think, merely to bring awareness to these important issues and the ‘values’ of some of these corporations who stock our groceries full of their products. Let’s be clear: the value is not in offering a safe and necessary product, but about making money.

Recently, Nestle has been raping drought-stricken California.

Should you like to avoid Nestle products, here are a few of their (my gosh, there are so) many, many water brands: Arrowhead, Aqua Spring, Calistoga, Contrex, Deer Park, Deep Spring, Ice Mountain, Glaciar, Klosterquelle, Nestle Wellness, Nestle Pure Life, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Perrier, S. Pellegrino, S. Barnardo, Water Line, and Zephyrhills as a starting point. Remember that Nestle also has a plethora of foodstuffs too.

Choose for yourselves what you will support, but for our households we will not serve water or (GMO) foods from Nestle.

What do you think?