Water

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Introduction

The human body is composed of approximately 70 percent water. In fact, the body's water supply is responsible for and involved in nearly every bodily process, including digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion.

Water is also the primary transporter of nutrients throughout the body and so is necessary for all building functions in the body. Water helps maintain normal body temperature and is essential for carrying waste material out of the body.

Therefore, replacing the water that is continually being lost through sweating and elimination is very important. To keep the body functioning properly, it is essential to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of quality water each day. While the body cannot survive without food for about five weeks, the body cannot survive without water for longer than 5 days.

Since water is capable of dissolving or suspending a tremendous variety of materials there is simply no way to get "pure" water (H2O and nothing but H2O) out of your faucet.

All water, outside of a research laboratory, will have some other stuff in it. Even distilled water you purchase in plastic bottles at the store will eventually have some carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air dissolved in it forming a weak acid (carbonic acid), and worse, there will probably be some dissolved plastic molecules in it as well.

Are all water contaminants bad for our health? Not at all. Many of the naturally occurring compounds in water are benign or even good for our health. Some minerals, like calcium and magnesium are essential to human health, and some reports indicate that drinking water can provide a dietary source for these minerals.

Obtaining quality water would seem to be an easy matter. However, due to the numerous types of classifications water is given, the average consumer can easily be confused about what is available.

This section is a guide to understanding what the most commonly used classifications of water mean and how these different kinds of water may help or harm the body.

Water or Coke... Which Should YOU Drink?

  • WATER FACTS & DEHYDRATION

    •  75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and this is likely to apply to half world population. (In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.)

    • Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

    • One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters shown in a study.

    • Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

    • Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

    • A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

    • Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

  • FOR YOUR INFORMATION:

    • The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.

    • To carry concentrate Coca-Cola syrup, the commercial truck must use the Hazardous Material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

    • The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!

Now the question is, would YOU like a glass of water or coke

Tap Water

Water that comes out of household taps or faucets is generally obtained either from surface water - water that has run off from ponds, creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, and is collected in reservoirs - or from ground water - water that has filtered through the ground to the water table and is extracted by means of a well.

Hard Versus Soft Water

Hard water, relatively high concentrations of the minerals calcium and magnesium. The presence of these minerals prevents soap from lathering and results in filmy sediment being deposited on hair, clothing, pipes, dishes, washtubs, and anything else that comes into regular contact with the water. It also affects the taste. Hard water can be annoying, and though some studies have shown that deaths from heart disease may be lower in areas where the drinking water is hard, it is believed that the calcium found in hard water is not good for the heart, arteries, or bones. Hard water deposits its calcium and other minerals on the outside of these structures, while it is the calcium and magnesium found within these structures that are beneficial to the body.

Soft water can be naturally soft or it may be hard water that has been treated to remove the calcium and magnesium. One potentially serious problem with artificially softened water is that it is more likely than hard water to dissolve the lining of the pipes. This poses an especially significant threat if pipes are made of lead. Another threat comes from certain plastic and galvanized pipes, which contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal. These types of pipe are rarely used in construction today, but they may be present in older buildings that have not undergone extensive renovation. But leaching from pipes can be a problem with today's copper pipes as well. Dangerous levels of copper, iron, zinc, and arsenic can leach into softened water from copper pipes.

The Safety of Tap Water

Most people assume that when they turn on their kitchen tap, they are getting clean, safe, healthy drinking water. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Regardless of the original source of tap water, it is vulnerable to a number of different types of impurities.

Some undesirable substances found in water, including radon, fluoride, and arsenic, iron, lead, copper, and other heavy metals, can occur naturally.

Other contaminants, such as fertilizers, asbestos, cyanides, herbicides, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, may leach into ground water through the soil, or into any tap water from plumbing pipes.

Still other substances, including chlorine, carbon, lime, phosphates, soda ash, and aluminum sulfate, are intentionally added to public water supplies to kill bacteria, adjust pH, and eliminate cloudiness, among other things.

In addition, water can contain biological contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

The greatest concerns about water quality today focus on chlorine, pesticides, and parasites. Chlorine has long been added to public water supplies to kill disease-causing bacteria. However, the levels of chlorine in drinking water today can be quite high, and some byproducts of chlorine are known carcinogens.

Pesticides pose a risk in any area where the tap water is extracted from an underground source. These chemicals are suspected of causing, or at least contributing to, an increased incidence of cancer, especially breast cancer. Some scientists believe that this may be because certain pesticides can mimic the action of the female sex hormone estrogen in the body. Others point to the fact that toxins in the body tend to accumulate in fatty tissues, and the human breast is composed largely of fatty tissue.

The pesticide problem is a particular concern in areas where agriculture is (or was) a major part of the economy. These chemicals are persistent. Residues from pesticides used decades ago may still be present in water coming out of the tap today, and may pose a risk to health.

Long considered a problem limited to poor, developing countries, the presence of bacteria and parasites in drinking water - especially a parasite called cryptosporidium - is becoming a serious problem in the United States today.

In 1993, the residents of one of Wisconsin's largest cities were forced to boil their tap water after it was discovered to contain "unacceptable" levels of cryptosporidium, most likely from agricultural runoff. This outbreak was suspected of causing six deaths in the area. The same organism has created controversy over the safety of the water in New York City; many people with weakened immune systems have charged that cryptosporidum in the city water has made them sick.

For people with HIV or AIDS, cryptosporidium can be lethal. The chlorine added to water to kill bacteria is not effective at killing these parasites.

Whatever the source of your water, it is important to know some warning signs of bad water.

  • Watch for cloudiness or murkiness in water. Chlorination causes some cloudiness that usually clears if the water is left to stand, but bacterial or sedimentary cloudiness will remain.

  • Foaming may be caused by bacterial contamination, by floating particles of sediment, or by soaps or detergents.

  • Bacteria can be destroyed by boiling water for at least five minutes, while sediment should settle out if you let the water stand for several hours.

  • Strange smells or tastes in water that was previously fine could mean chemical contamination. However, many toxic hazards that work their way into water do not change its taste, smell, or appearance.

Fluoridation

For many years now, controversy has raged over whether fluoride should be added to drinking water.

Proponents say that fluoride occurs naturally and helps develop and maintain strong bones and teeth.

Opponents to fluoridation contend that when fluoridated water is consumed regularly, toxic levels of fluorine, the poisonous substance from which fluoride is derived, build up in the body, causing irreparable harm to the immune system. The US Delaney Congressional Investigation Committee, the US government body charged with monitoring additives and other substances in the food supply, has stated that "fluoridation is mass medication without parallel in the history of medicine."

Meanwhile, no convincing scientific proof has ever been generated that fluoridated water makes for stronger bones and teeth.

It is known, however, that chronic fluoride use results in numerous health problems, including osteoporosis and osteomalacia, and also damages teeth, and leaves them mottled.

The salts used to fluoridate the water supply, sodium fluoride and fluorosalicic acid, are industrial byproducts that are never found in nature. They are also notoriously toxic compounds, so much so that they are used in rat poison and insecticides.

The naturally occurring form of fluoride, calcium fluoride, is not toxic - but this form of fluoride is not used to fluoridate water.

Although many ailments and disorders - including Down syndrome, mottled teeth, and cancer - have been linked to fluoridated water, fluoridation has become the standard rather than the exception.

The fluoride added to tap water can be a problem. Individuals have different levels of tolerance for toxins such as fluoride.

In addition, many water sources have levels of fluoride higher than four part per million, the level generally recognized as safe.  This is in addition to fluoride encountered from other sources.

Fluoride is the 13th most widely distributed element on earth, so it can turn up just about anywhere - in vegetables and meats, for example. Since so many local water supplies are fluoridated, there is a good chance that virtually any packaged food product made with water, such as soft drinks and reconstituted juices, contains fluoride.

Additional fluorides are widely used in toothpaste products, so it is easy to see that we may be ingesting excessive amounts of this potentially toxic substance.

If your tap water contains fluoride, and you wish to remove it, you can use a reverse osmosis, distillation, or activated alumina filtration system to eliminate almost all of the fluoride from your water.

Water Analysis

Pure water is defined as "bacteriologically safe" water, and it recommends - but does not require - that tap water have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5. This allows for a great deal of leeway in what passes as acceptable water. Typically, however, water is tested for bacteria levels, not for toxic substances.  Therefore, you might want to contact a commercial laboratory to test your water for its chemical content. If you find that your tap water is unacceptable either because of its taste or because of its toxic chemical content, you may choose to use one of the alternative water supplies described in this section.

Improving Tap Water

Tap water can be improved in several ways. Heating tap water to a rolling boil and keeping it there for 3 to 5 minutes will kill bacteria and parasites.

However, most people find boiling their drinking water too impractical and time-consuming. In addition, this procedure has the effect of concentrating whatever lead is present in the water, and the water must then be refrigerated if it is to be used for drinking.

The taste of chlorinated tap water can be improved by keeping the water in an uncovered pitcher for several hours to allow the chlorine taste and odor to dissipate.

Water can be aerated in a blender to remove chlorine and other chemicals. Nevertheless, neither of these last two methods will improve the quality of the water, only the taste.

Filtration is a means by which contaminants in water are removed, rendering the water cleaner and better tasting.

There are many different ways in which water can be filtered.

Nature filters water as the water runs through streams and as it seeps down through the soil and rocks to the water table. As water passes through the earth or over the rocks in a stream, the bacterial in the water leech into the rocks and are replaced with minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

There are also man-made ways of filtering water.

There are three basic types of filters available:

  • absorbent types, which use materials such as carbon to pick up impurities;

  • micro filtration systems, which run water through filters with tiny pores to catch and eliminate contaminants (the filter may be made of any of a number of different materials); and

  • special media like ion- exchange resins that are designed to remove heavy metals.

Water filtration systems vary in effectiveness. Two types that are considered good are reverse osmosis and ceramic filtration systems.

However, no filter can remove all contaminants. Each pore of even the finest filter is large enough for some viruses to permeate.

To remove parasites such as cryptosporidium, the EPA and CDC recommend purchasing a filter that has a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) rating for parasite reduction and that has an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.

Bottled Water

Because of concerns over the safety and health effects of tap water, many people today are turning to bottled water.

Bottled water is usually classified by its source (spring, spa, geyser, public water supply, etc.), by its mineral content (containing at least 500 parts per million of dissolved solids), and/or by the type of treatment it has undergone (deionizer, steam-distilled, etc.).

Because there is a lot of overlapping among these criteria, some water fits more than one classification. In addition, there is no rules governing appropriate labeling, so some bottled water claims may be misleading or incorrect.

Deionizer or Demineralised Water

When the electric charge of a molecule of water has been neutralized by the addition or removal of electrons, the resulting water is called deionizer or demineralised.

The deionization process removes nitrates and the minerals calcium and magnesium, in addition to the heavy metals cadmium, barium, lead, and some forms of radium.

Deionizer water is often used in medical or scientific laboratories for use with experiments and clinical testing so that these impurities will not interfere with test results.

Mineral Water

Mineral water is natural spring water, usually from Europe or Canada. To be considered mineral water, in addition to containing minerals, the water must flow freely from its source, cannot be pumped or forced from the ground, and must be bottled directly at the source.

Depending on where the source is, the minerals contained will vary. If you are suffering from a deficiency of certain minerals and are drinking mineral water for therapeutic reasons, you must be aware of which minerals are in the particular brand of water you drink. If you are drinking mineral water containing minerals that you do not lack, you could be doing yourself more harm than good.

Most mineral waters are carbonated. However, some sparkling waters, such as club soda, are called mineral waters only because the manufacturer added bicarbonates, citrates, and sodium phosphates to filtered or distilled tap water.

Natural Spring Water

The number of gallons of "natural spring water" flowing through water coolers and from bottles has more than doubled in the last few years. The word "natural" on the label doesn't tell you where the water came from, only that the mineral content of the water has not been altered.

It may or may not have been filtered or otherwise treated. Similarly, because there is no legal definition of the word "spring" as it is used on bottled water labels, a bottle of "natural spring water" may not have come from a spring. However, most companies that sell bottled water willingly list their water source on the label.

Spring water is water that rises naturally to the earth's surface from underground reservoirs. This water is unprocessed, and flavor or carbonation may be added.

If you use a water cooler for bottled spring water, you should be sure to clean the cooler once a month to destroy bacteria.

Run a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda through the reservoir and spigots, then remove the residue by rinsing the cooler with four or more gallons of tap water.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is water that has been carbonated. It can be a healthful alternative to soda and alcoholic beverages, but if it is loaded with fructose and other sweeteners, it may be no better than soda pop. Read labels before you buy.

Understanding where the carbonation in sparkling water comes from isn't always easy. A "naturally sparkling water" must get its carbonation from the same source as the water.

If a water is "carbonated natural water," that means the carbonation came from a source other than the one that supplied the water. That doesn't mean the water is of poor quality. It can still be called "natural" because its mineral content is the same as when it came from the ground, even though it has been carbonated from a separate source.

People suffering from intestinal disorders or ulcers should avoid drinking carbonated water because it may be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.

Steam-Distilled Water

Distillation involves vaporizing water by boiling it. The steam rises, leaving behind most of the bacteria, viruses, chemicals, minerals, and pollutants from the water. The steam is then moved into a condensing chamber, where it is cooled and condensed to becoming distilled water.

Once consumed, steam-distilled water leaches inorganic minerals rejected by the cells and tissues out of the body. It is believed that only steam-distilled water should be consumed.

Flavor can be added to distilled water by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar (obtained from a health food store) per gallon of distilled water. Vinegar is an excellent solvent and aids in digestion. Lemon juice is another good flavoring agent, and has cleansing properties as well.  For added minerals, you can add mineral drops to steam-distilled water.

Health Effects Of Drinking Distilled Water

Questions on the health effects of drinking distilled water takes several forms, but the essence boils down to whether very pure water (treated with Reverse osmosis, Distillation, or Deionization- RDD treatment) is either bad or good for the body because of the complete lack of ions.

"Water that has been distilled is good for your health (or bad for your health - take your pick) because it is almost completely lacking in dissolved minerals.

Actual experimental evidence (in scientific journals) about the health effects of drinking RDD treated water seems to be almost non-existent, on the other hand, the discussions, opinions, and arguments about whether or not RDD water is good or bad to drink abound!

The glaring thing that strikes most of these RDD purification discussions is that those promoting the idea that "water without ions is bad" are typically the groups selling filters that do not remove calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc. (the "beneficial mineral ions") from the water.

Those stating that "RDD water is beneficial" ("and actually preferable to drinking water containing minerals") are - no surprise - the ones selling RDD systems.

Many "health-related sites" are somewhere in between - if one of their diets or cleanses requires some sort of body "purification" they will often suggest drinking RDD processed water to help leach harmful contaminants out of the body (see argument 2 below).

There are two threads to the "RDD water is harmful to health" argument:

  • Essential minerals are removed from the water - and that's bad, and

  • Demineralised water 'leaches' minerals from your body - and that's also bad.

    • Argument : All the calcium and magnesium are removed from the water by RDD processes, and, because calcium and magnesium are essential nutrients and necessary for life, the removal of those mineral ions from the water is harmful to health.

    • Response : It is true that RDD removes the "good" minerals along with the harmful contaminants, but it is by no means true that drinking water is the only source (or even the primary source) of these minerals. The recommended daily requirements for calcium and magnesium are about 1,000-1,200 mg and 300-400 mg respectively (with specific requirements varying by age, gender, etc.).

    • Argument : RDD water, since it is devoid of all substances (including ions), is "aggressive" and will deplete the minerals from your body causing serious harm over time.

    • Response : If you are talking pipes and storage containers, RDD water could be considered more "aggressive" than water containing dissolved substances. Water without anything in it will tend to dissolve anything it comes in contact with (the copper or iron in a pipe, the lead from a solder joint or brass fixture, etc.) more 'aggressively' than water that already contains some dissolved substances.

    • Also, one of the "things" easily dissolved by RDD water is carbon dioxide. This forms a weak acidic solution (carbonic acid) which can cause further dissolving and corrosion of materials that it comes in contact with - that's how caves get formed - soft, acidic rain water dissolves limestone (calcium carbonate) becoming hard water in the process of forming the cave structure.

The above is a good argument for only storing RDD water in clean glass containers which are chemically inert.

Now, does this "aggressiveness" of RDD processed water translate to actually leaching minerals out of the human body?

So far, there is no scientific literature that provide good evidence on this alleged phenomenon and specifically on the long-term effects of drinking RDD water on health.

Do drinking RDD water has any major positive/negative impact on the human body on digestion, food/water absorption?

Consider:

  • Ideally RDD water contains nothing except perhaps some CO2 picked up from the air.

  • Adding anything to that pure water will contaminate it.

  • The alleged leaching of minerals from the body is said to take place in the small intestines because of the "pure, aggressive" water that comes in contact with the intestine lining - as opposed to hard water with a few milligrams of calcium or other ions which will not cause this leaching of minerals.

  • Consider the contents of your stomach, particularly after a meal - a huge mix of every conceivable type of organic and inorganic compound plus a healthy dose of hydrochloric acid.

  • It does not matter where pure water becomes contaminated (in the ground, in the distribution system, on the counter, in your body) - adding anything (from any source) to water will contaminate it.

  • Imagine two glasses of water on the counter - one containing clean, filtered tap water with a few milligrams of calcium and magnesium, and the other glass containing only pure, RDD processed water with no ions.

  • Imagine now the difference a few milligrams of ions will make when either glass of water hits the contents of your stomach! Since any alleged harmful effect of drinking RDD water does not happen until several hours later when molecules from the glass of water eventually reaches your intestines, it is very difficult to believe that the presence or absence of a few ions in the original water will make any difference at all.

  • Another way to look at it: Since it does not matter to the body where water becomes contaminated (externally or in your stomach), consider this "thought experiment":

    • Take a blender, throw in a cheeseburger meal with all the trimmings (chips, pickle, and a coke)** , turn the blender on and mix the together thoroughly.

    • Fill two glasses of water 1/2 full, one with pure RDD water, with no ions, and one 'contaminated' with calcium and magnesium ions.

    • Pour 1/2 of the burger mixture into each glass of water and mix.

  • Now, which is the more 'contaminated' glass of water - is it really going to matter to your body which glass of water you drink - the glass of water that started with perhaps 2-18 mg of calcium ions or the glass of "pure" water that started with 0 mg.

Since water from reverse osmosis and distillation systems are about two and four times more expensive respectively than good filtered water, the only negative impact to these methods of treatment for most people is to the pocket. 

If, however, your water contains contaminants, like nitrates, that are not removed by filtration, then reverse osmosis and distillation treatment methods are a good options (often the most economical option) for producing clean, safe water for drinking and cooking.


The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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