How much water do you need? Does filtering matter?
When we think about changing our habits to become healthier and feel better, perhaps even lose a few pounds, is water the first thing you think of? Well, maybe it should be. Nearly 60% of our bodies are comprised of water, making it critical to our survival, yet so many of us don’t actually take in a glass of it a day, relying on other sources of fluid intake, assuming that is enough, but it’s not. Our bodies NEED water. Pure, clean, nourishing water. We can go weeks without food, but only days without water. Without it our bodies dehydrate, they become tired, achy and complain, yet we ignore them. We tell ourselves that there is water in our coffee, soda, juice or sports drinks, but what we fail to consider is that all of those beverages are actually diuretics, meaning they dehydrate the body. They do the exact opposite of what we hope that they are doing for us. We set ourselves up for problems ranging from dry mouth (which is actually a late stage sign of dehydration) to fatigue, headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, blood pressure dis-regulation, and weight gain to name a few.
How much do we need?
We have become so out of sync with our bodies that we have lost the ability to recognize that we are thirsty. Often the thirst sensation is mistaken for hunger, reaching instead for a snack rather than the water we so desperately need. A good way to figure out if you are getting enough water, is to use the following formula. Body weight (lbs.) divided by 2= the oz. of water needed just to maintain hydration in our bodies per day. For example a person weighing 150 lbs. would need approximately 75 oz. of water as a base amount. Now, for every 8 oz of diuretic beverage you consume, add 12-16 oz. of water (or 1.5-2 times the beverage amount) to rehydrate the body from the dehydration caused by the diuretic. Also if we are in a warm environment, exercising, or perspiring we will also require additional water.
What does it really do for us?
So, what does water do for the body? Well, for one, it hydrates the tissues, keeps joints moving smoothly, hydrates our skin keeping it moist and looking younger, produces saliva to start the digestive process, moistens the air we breath, keeps our eyes and nasal passages moist, flushes out toxins, and enhances our vitality.
Where should we get it?
Where we get our water is just as important as how much of it we are drinking. Most of us can go to the kitchen turn on the faucet and clean water comes out, but there is a difference between clean and nourishing water. Sure, the water coming out of the faucet will keep your body going, in a survival kind of way, but we want to thrive, not just get by! Have you ever stopped to consider what’s in the water coming out of the tap? The chemicals used in water treatment are hard on our body, not to mention they just smell bad and don’t taste great either. Some water supplies are more heavily chlorinated than others. In Olympia we seem to have a lower amount dumped into our supply than in other areas of our country. It’s no wonder so many of us have turned away from drinking water to beverages that are flavored. I mean, who wants to drink something that doesn’t taste good? I know I don’t. Other contaminants to potentially be considered are arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, nickel, drugs, hormones, petrochemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, and fluoride, which is a waste product of the aluminum industry (fortunately not in our Olympia water supply). The disinfecting chemicals leave behind by-products that can cause production of free radicals, potentially damaging the body. It’s important, for optimal health, to consider not only your source of water, but what you can do to improve it. For instance, if you drink tap water, get a filter and get rid of those chemicals, and microorganisms that can be damaging to your health.
There are many types of filters with varying price points available on the market, from a simple pitcher style filter that you fill directly from the faucet allowing the charcoal filter and gravity to do the work, to filters that attach to the faucets, or even whole house filters. So why not just buy bottled water? While this sounds like a reasonable choice, it’s not quite the panacea the bottlers would like us to think it is. PET-polyethylene terephthalate is the chemical typically used in this type of water bottle. When left to sit, the bottles can leach antimony in increasing amounts the longer it’s in the bottles, especially in the heat. They can also leach acetaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen. When plastic warms in the sun or a hot warehouse it leaches the very chemicals it is made from right into your drinking water. You don’t see it, and sometimes you don’t even really taste it, but it can be there waiting to wreak havoc on your body.
Something to consider, if you do find yourself having to buy bottled water, look for spring water that’s “bottled at the source” which means that it has not been trucked to a processing facility. In order to transport the water, it must first be chlorinated before it hits the highway, thereby defeating the purpose of buying clean spring water. As a matter of fact, a lot of the bottled water on the market is actually tap water that has been filtered and sometimes had minerals added.
Rather than relying on plastic bottles, consider buying a stainless steel or a glass water container instead. There are plenty of them on the market now and they’re easy enough to find. Taking your water with you when you are out and about will not only provide you with clean drinking water, but it will save you money, and keep a lot of plastic out of the landfills and oceans.
Now, lets talk about the different ways to treat water to make it safer for drinking.
Activated carbon pitcher style filters-They remove some contaminants, but not all. It does not remove fluoride, but here in Olympia that is not a concern, as we do not have fluoride in our municipal water supply. Filter cartridges for this style filter need to be replaced often, and have the potential to breed microorganisms due to the fact that oxygen can become trapped inside the granular filter and encourage the bacteria to grow. Note- you should never run hot water through this type of filter, as it can release the trapped bacteria directly into your drinking water.
Distillation-Is a slow process that uses boiling water and recapturing the condensation. This process removes nearly everything, including the important minerals, so that they would need to be added back in. Distilled water can cause mineral deficiencies in those who may already be mineral deficient. It is not recommended for long periods of time.
Reverse osmosis filtration– This system costs more but removes more impurities, unfortunately, that also includes those precious minerals. This type of filter usually has 2 or more filtering mechanisms, meaning that it will filter out more contaminants, however they usually only make 3-10 gallons a day and have a limited holding capacity as well as being a bulky filtering system.
Solid Carbon block filters-These filters alleviate concerns of microorganisms due to much less oxygen supply within the carbon filter. The amount of microorganisms filtered out is determined by the micron filter rating. The lower the number, the more it will filter out.
Local Artesian Well– Fortunately here in Olympia, WA, we have FREE access to an Artesian well that is tested regularly for bacteria. Our family actually bought a couple of 5 gallon glass carboys and we fill them up weekly for free. We have the best tasting water and we don’t have to filter anything. Of course this does take a little planning to fill the jugs up every week, but to us it’s not even a choice. I’ve noticed that the better the water tastes, the more I drink. The first time I had water from the local Artesian well it was a kind of AHA! moment, like I was tasting water for the very first time. It just tastes like…water! You can find more information on the our local Artesian well at http:// olympiawa.gov/city-services/parks/parks-and-trails/artesian-well-commons or you can also do a web search and read about the many other wells that were once public water sources in downtown Olympia. If you are outside of the Olympia, WA area, do a little looking and see if you too, have a local Artisian water source.
Other Water Exposures
The last thing I think I should mention is that most of us fail to consider, is the water we drink should be clean and nourishing and so should the water we bathe in. Considering that our skin is our largest organ, we must realize that whatever is placed on it is directly absorbed into our bloodstream, whether it’s cosmetics, lotions, tattoos, or even the water we shower in. While most of us enjoy a nice hot shower to either relax us or warm us up, it’s important to realize that the heat of the shower opens up our pores to allow more of those chemicals from the water into our bodies. In addition to drying out our skin. Crazy, right? So short of installing a whole house filter which can be quite costly, what can be done? Well, they have very reasonably priced filters that attach directly to your shower head and filter out the chemicals. We recently purchased one for our shower, like this, and another that is designed to remove the chlorine from the bathtub, like this. The one we have for the bath is a ball that you swish through the water for a few minutes. I immediately noticed a reduction in the heavy chlorine odor that is normally present when the water is turned on. It disappeared in just a few minutes. Also I’ve noticed that my shower is staying much cleaner since installing the filter and my skin is staying more hydrated. Another big concern from showering is not only the chlorinated water on your skin, but what you breath in from the hot shower steam, directly into your lungs and bloodstream.
I hope this encourages you to look into the source of your water and consider filtration devices that suit your needs or perhaps buy your own water jugs and utilize the amazing FREE resource we have here in Olympia, and possibly in your area as well. After all, water is critical to our health and survival and is such a simple way to improve your health and longevity.
Nutritional Therapy Association
Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Haas.
UPDATE: 12/12/17 We have purchased a Berkey Filtration system for our home use. We still go down to the well to get water occasionally, but due to the distance from our house and some other issues surrounding the downtown well, we rely mostly on our Big Berkey.