Just like food, the quality of the water we drink can have a major impact on our health. Most of us don’t drink enough water, and there’s certainly a good amount of justified concern when it comes to water quality.
One of the most talked about problems lately is the BPA in bottled water. I’ve noticed a lot of people seeking alternatives to drinking bottled water to avoid issues of plastic leaching into what they are drinking, but then there are still an abundance of people I see using bottled water.
I try not to drink water from bottles unless there is simply no other choice. Then there’s the question of whether the bottled water you buy is actually good quality water or if it is no more than just tap water.
Tap water is riddled with chemicals like chlorine and fluoride just to name a few. I always worry about other substances in the water too – from what goes into the water that probably doesn’t get sufficiently filtered out like residues from cleaners, prescription drugs, and other chemicals that are poured down the drain.
Water – a major component of our bodies
Our bodies are comprised of a lot of water – around 90 percent. Our bodies couldn’t manufacture blood without water. Water is necessary for carrying nutrients to all our organ systems and for regulating body temperature. It is also responsible for transporting oxygen to cells, protecting joint and organs, and removing waste. It’s pretty easy to see that without it, we can perish in just a couple of days.
We drink water to keep ourselves hydrated. Signs of dehydration can be varied but include constipation or hard stools, muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, and headaches. You can also tell by color of your urine – if you are seeing a yellow tinge to your urine, you are dehydrated. And dehydration can occur long before thirst sets in. Vitamins from the B family are water-soluble and they leave our bodies through the urinary tract. One of the signs of those nutrients leaving is the yellowish color you see in your urine.
How much water do you need to drink?
Our bodies lose water each and every day, so it’s important to constantly replenish the lost supply. We lose water through perspiration, urination, and respiration. When you are active or sick, you tend to lose more fluids and it becomes necessary to take in a larger amount of water to make up for what you have lost.
You should drink at least half your weight in ounces daily. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water. A good way to accomplish this is to keep water available at all times. I use a recycled glass bottle – liter size – and fill it with water twice daily. I try to drink this amount each day, but I often fall short. A liter is 32 ounces, so two of these adds up to 64 ounces which is more than half my body weight in ounces. If you exercise, you should add water to your daily amount. Approximately 30 minutes of exercise, for example, would require an additional intake of 6 – 8 ounces of water.
Can’t I just drink coffee, tea, soda, juice, or sports drinks?
These beverages contain a lot of sugar and chemicals, and these substances do not contribute to your overall hydration profile or health because these substances are not only unnecessary but are toxins which deplete your body of valuable nutrients including minerals.
Some drinks like coffee or tea actually put an additional strain on your body by lowering the function of your adrenal glands, which causes the loss of more nutrients and fluid. And because drinks with caffeine are diuretics, they prompt yet more fluid reduction. Many teas and coffees also have added chemicals, artificial flavors, sugar, or residues from pesticides in them – or could come from genetically-modified organisms. Although some teas are purported to be high in antioxidant and health benefits, a study conducted in the last six years revealed that many of China’s green tea exports were tested and found to contain alarmingly high levels of pesticides. So if you are going to drink tea or coffee, do so on occasion and buy organic.
Juice seems healthy – but for regular consumption, it’s not. Here’s why – first, in order to make an 8 ounce glass of juice, you must have the juice of about 20 – 30 pieces of fruit, depending on the fruit. Most people don’t eat more than one to two pieces of fruit at once, and the amount of sugar in each serving of fruit is usually less than 20 grams. When you drink juice, just think of how much sugar you are getting from the juice of 20 – 30 fruits at at time! And, you aren’t getting any of the benefit of the nutrients or fiber from the fruit – just the sugar and empty calories.
Another hazard of fruit juices is the way many of them are produced – unless they are organic, they are full of pesticides and other chemicals, and some of them are from genetically-modified seeds. Some juice drinks are not even 100 percent juice. Reading the label can reveal that many of these drinks contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup, flavorings, colorings, and other dangerous chemicals. Read this article titled, “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry” on the Weston A. Price Foundation to learn about how orange juice is made. You’ll never want to drink a glass of it again, unless you squeeze it fresh in your own home from organic oranges.
One of the worst things you can drink, sodas and pop, contain carbonation which is especially hard on the kidneys. It also irritates the stomach lining, and in response the stomach creates a surplus of antacid which it takes from calcium in the blood. After being depleted of its calcium supply, it takes additional calcium to make up for the deficit from the bones. As if that weren’t bad enough, soft drinks contain phosphoric acid which leeches additional calcium from bones.
Then, you can’t leave out the terrible effect sodas with their high sugar content have on insulin levels in the body (there’s about 9 – 10 teaspoons in each 12 ounce can). And finally, soda pop consumption has been linked to esophageal cancer due to the burping cause by the carbonation. Continued burping causes stomach acid to rise up, and can eventually lead to lesions in the esophagus. Other drinks containing carbonation such as champagne, beer, wine spritzers, and sparkling waters fall into this same category.
Sources for good water
Spring water is naturally rich in minerals that come from the earth – and it is these trace minerals that are essential to good health – such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, or iron. We also get minerals from the foods we eat, but due to chemical applications and modern farming practices, a great deal of naturally occurring minerals and nutrients are depleted. Unfortunately, spring water is not always accessible, affordable, nor necessarily clean enough to drink.
Due to a shortage of clean, affordable water, most of us drink water from the tap, buy bottled, fill up our own, or use a filtration system. There are an enormous number of water products on the market at a variety of prices – bottled water, filtration systems, and retail locations that allow you to fill up with your own container. It’s overwhelming to decide which is best for your health and is also something you can afford.
I personally feel tap water is unsafe to drink. Because water is expensive and we can’t fit a high-quality filtration system into our budget at the moment, my compromise is reverse-osmosis water that we buy from our local health food store. It’s only .39 cents a gallon – a good price, but it is stored in an enormous plastic tank, which is the main problem I see with it. I worry that there might be BPA leaching into our water from this tank, but I don’t know for certain. I have been meaning to ask the folks at the store about it.
My husband says he doesn’t want to buy any kind of filtration system for our home for two reasons:
- He doesn’t think the fact that we’d have to buy a filter every so often is cost-effective, and
- The filter has to be thrown away and has chemicals in it, which will end up in a landfill somewhere and pollute the earth more.
I see his point about the pollution, but I’m not convinced that the cost of the filters is such a big deal when you consider how it can save your skin and body from being exposed to more chemicals like fluoride, chlorine, and other toxic chemicals.
Since I have never owned any water filtration systems, I can’t comment on the quality of any existing systems. I’ve certainly drank water from plenty of different kinds of filtration systems owned by other people, but that’s not enough to go on in terms of whether that water really makes a difference in someone’s health. I’ve had a few people tell me that their exorbitantly-high priced water system is the best you can buy. But I’m a skeptic, so I’m not convinced that easily.
Does anyone have any thoughts about water filtration and the names of some good quality systems? My husband believes there aren’t any filtration systems that don’t use filters, but what about UV filter systems?
Since the water I drink is filtered, it no longer contains minerals in it. I’m concerned about this, so I try to eat a varied, traditional foods diet with real food as much as possible to provide those important minerals to my body.
Good places to get minerals from our food are the following:
- bone broths made from bones of animals and birds allowed to roam on pasture
- eggs and dairy products from pastured animals
- organ meats from animals and birds on pasture
- properly prepared grains, legumes, and rice – soaked, sprouted, and fermented
- seafood – salmon, tuna, oysters, mollusks, mussels, clams
- kelp, seaweed, dulse
- organic fruits and vegetables (when produce is cultivated in mineral enriched soil, the minerals the food contains are naturally higher in content)
Besides foods, I believe I have found another great way to get my minerals in my drinking water. I add unsweetened, organic cranberry juice to my water on most days. When I first heard about using it as an effective method of lymphatic detoxification in Ann Louise Gittleman’s The Fast Track Detox Diet, I didn’t realize it was also a great source for minerals and other nutrients until I re-read the section in the book about adding it to water for daily drinking.
Sure enough, I read the label of the brand I use, Lakewood organic unsweetened cranberry juice, and it revealed a wealth of nutrients – Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, Calcium, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Thiamine, and Zinc. Wow, that’s a lot of trace minerals and vitamins! And it’s easy to do – I just add about 4 ounces for every 32 I drink – for a total of 8 ounces per day to my 64 of water.
Something else I add to my cranberry water mixture when I have them on hand is organic lemons. Lemons are also a great detoxifier and contain trace minerals and other important nutrients. If you prefer to tame down the sour taste of cranberry juice and lemons, add a bit of Stevia to your water. I normally drink mine straight, as I like the tart flavor.
According to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman (author of The Fast Track Detox Diet), “Cranberry juice, for example, is packed with flavonoids, enzymes, malic acid, citric acid and quinic acid, which, based on my research, have an emulsifying effect on stubborn fat deposits in the lymphatic system. Cranberry juice actually digests lumpy deposits of lymphatic waste, which could very well be the reason Fat Flushers report that their cellulite disappears.”
The downside to buying cranberry juice is that it is not cheap. In fact, if you buy the organic kind (which I do about half the time if it’s on sale), it can cost $9 – 12 a bottle. Here are some ways to save money – buy fresh-pressed, unsweetened cranberry juice, and when you can, buy organic. If you can’t swing having cranberry juice every day in your water, try doing it once or twice a week. And, think of how much money you are saving on buying expensive mineral water by doing this. The savings could be considerable.
How I’ve applied this to my own life
I think this is an amazing finding, and something very simple and natural to add minerals back into your body as well as provide your lymphatic system with a mechanism for detoxification. For the last six years I have had fibrocystic breast condition, for which I have had two mammograms. Although the results were benign, I have been very careful not to add too much to my toxic load – which is something that can cause many conditions to occur, including fibrocystic breast issues. After knowing what I do about mammograms, I’ll never have one again. If you’d like to hear the story of what I went through to get to this point, read To Mammogram…Or Not.
So far I haven’t found much consistency in the conventional nor alternative medical communities about this condition. Most medical doctors say it’s not normal but that it doesn’t put people who have it in a higher risk for cancer. But I’ve talked to various alternative practitioners and health professionals who say it could turn into cancer if the person isn’t mindful of their health, diet, and overall toxic load.
I’ve also heard the connection between iodine deficiency and fibrocystic breast conditions and breast cancer. For the past six months, I’ve been taking an iodine supplement and I haven’t noticed any difference in the size of the lumps. The interesting thing is, I was having a lot of pain and tenderness in the summer of last year when I started taking the iodine and began my cranberry juice regimen. And guess what? I’ve had an almost complete remission of pain, swelling, and tenderness. So I believe I am on the right track.
Water is the solution!
So now that we’ve covered all the dangers of tap water, bottled water, carbonated beverages, juices, tea, caffeine, it’s pretty easy to see that the best fluid for your body is water. Other good alternatives include lacto-fermented beverages like kombucha soda pop which are detoxifying and hydrating and herbal teas from sustainable and organic sources.
Although I haven’t started making my own kombucha yet nor using my own home-grown herbs for tea yet, I do buy organic herbal teas and enjoy them on a regular basis. Iced tea is also good; there is nothing quite as special as a sun-tea made in your own backyard with your favorite natural flavors and spices from the earth. I’m also planning to make some kombucha this year as well.
Do you have a great water solution that you’d like to share? Please tell us about it!
This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays and We Are That Family’s Works for Me Wednesdays carnivals. Please visit this sites and read the other articles linked there.