Updated: Mar 3, 2019
If you could put your finger on the very first thing that determined your health and wellness, it might surprisingly be water. Or more specifically, drinking enough of it. It’s not a subject that we thank about much. But it should be. Most of us take it for granted. But have you ever taken a moment to think about how important water is to you? For the human body, water is a vital resource. You can go weeks without food but only 5-7 days without water. When the water in your body is reduced by just 1 percent, you become thirsty. At 5 percent, muscle strength and endurance declines significantly and you become hot and tired. When the loss reaches 10 percent, delirium and blurred vision occurs. At a 20 percent reduction, death results. Think about that. There is no more important nutrient for our body than water! Not a vitamin, not an exercise, not a lifestyle….Nothing. No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and makeup of the functioning body. Did you know, your body is about 60 percent water by weight? Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.
Water weight does tend to change by age, but mostly because the sense of thirst dims with age. So as we age we tend to become less hydrated. But we can usher in premature aging quickly if we remain poorly hydrated. The more obese we are the lower the hydration levels too. While the average person is 55% water, the average obese person is only about 45% water.
If that’s not enough, Water helps to maintain a healthy body weight by increasing the metabolism and regulating the appetite. Water leads to increased energy levels, but a lack of it actually saps our energy. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration. The most common cause of adrenal fatigue is chronic dehydration and stress.
One study conducted by Loughborough University found that a mere 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause a 25-30% loss in energy. Even a 3% drop can cause fuzzy thinking, “brain fog” and a slower metabolism. Another study conducted by University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that even a 1.5% water loss led to reduced cognitive function, headaches and fatigue in 25 women and 26 men.
If that were not enough to motivate you, you should also realize that drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer because hydration helps speed the removal of wastes and toxins from the cell and the gut.
For a majority of pain sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain, or at least its recurrence. Proper hydration leads to an overall greater health by flushing out wastes and bacteria that can cause disease. Water can prevent and alleviate headaches too (with adequate magnesium). Water also naturally moisturizes skin and ensures proper cellular formation underneath the layers of skin to give it a healthy, glowing appearance that prevents premature wrinkles. Water aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation. It is chronic constipation which leads to diseases of the colon. And, water is the primary mode of transportation for all nutrients in the body and is essential for proper circulation.
So hydration is important and pretty simple right? If it were that simple we could just go hydrate and be done with it. But, with all the different types of water out there and all the hype that goes with it, it can be very easy to get confused about which type of water is really best for your health and your body or how much water you should be drinking. Not a day goes by that I am not asked about filtered water, alkaline water, structured water or tap water, so, it’s time to clear up some confusion and help you take control of your health.
First let’s understand that there are many symptoms of dehydration, some we are aware of, some not so much. The major symptoms are thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine and fatigue, but by the time you experience those you are already dehydrated. So let’s take a look at some commonly overlooked symptoms of chronic dehydration. Do these sound familiar?
Digestive disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
Perhaps the most common side effect of dehydration is fatigue. The primary reason for this is that dehydration causes an immediate reduction in blood volume. Remember that your blood is over 90% water. This in turn will reduce your blood volume output from your heart (cardiac output) and cause a corresponding increase in blood stickiness or viscosity, increasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you exercise in a dehydrated state there will also be a decreased skin blood flow, leading to a decreased sweat rate, leading to a decreased heat dissipation, which will increase the core temperature and lead to a higher chance of heat stress or heat stroke.
Exercise during a dehydrated state also leads to an increased rate of muscle glycogen use, which promotes early fatigue.
From a weight loss point of view, dehydration affects the ability of your body to burn fat. Not only that, but it also encourages excessive calorie consumption and slows down your metabolism. This leads to excess fat being stored in your body, including around your stomach. It is interesting to note that drinking enough water also has the opposite effect. In one study, researchers were able to determine that the metabolic rate increases by 30 percent after drinking just 2 cups of water. Further drinking just 8 ounces of water upon waking works better than a Red Bull.
Do you have seasonal allergies? Did you know that when your body is dehydrated your body will restrict the airways as a means of conserving its water? This causes an increase of histamine production which rises exponentially with dehydration leading to a higher allergy reaction.
Cholesterol and blood pressure also increase when you are dehydrated. As a result of dehydration the body produces more cholesterol in order to lower the loss rate of cellular water. The thickening of the blood during dehydration also causes the heart to work harder and drives up blood pressure.
So water and hydration is pretty important and people obviously do not drink enough of it. Many will substitute the water for coffee, tea, soda or juice beverages which actually promote more dehydration rather than the opposite.
Of course, when it comes to water, there's more to choose form than a happy child in a candy store. It’s not simply tap versus bottled anymore because the food industry got involved in profit making at the expense of our health and health is losing.
Let's closely examine each so you can make informed decisions about your water and your health.
Plain old tap water: It's easy. It's convenient and it comes right out of your kitchen faucet. However, as I'm sure you've heard, most tap water is contaminated with a host of pollutants (about 2100) that increase your risk of serious health problems.
Let's take a look at some of these contaminants and how they can adversely affect the health of you and your family.
The level of arsenic in US tap water is incredibly high. This poisonous element is a powerful carcinogen, which has been linked to an increased risk of the development of several types of cancer. In 2001 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the maximum level of arsenic permitted in drinking water from 50 ug/L to 10 ug/L due to the established cancer risk. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates as many as 56 million Americans living in 25 states still drink water with arsenic at unsafe levels however.
You may have heard how aluminum increases your risk for Alzheimer's disease, but did you also know that the aluminum found in your municipal water supply can cause a wide variety of other health problems? Aluminum is linked to hyperactivity, learning disorders, gastrointestinal disease, Parkinson’s, liver disease and autism.
But tap water is not the only place you find it. You can also find aluminum in foods such as baking powder, self-rising flour, salt, baby formulas, coffee creamers, baked goods and processed foods, coloring and caking agents. It is in pharmaceutical drugs, such as antacids, analgesics and anti-diarrheals. We all know that vaccines have it, especially—Hepatitis A and B, Hib, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), pneumococcal vaccine, Gardasil (HPV), and many others use it as a stabilizing agent to keep it shelf fresh. Many cosmetics and personal care products such as antiperspirants, deodorants (including salt crystals, made of alum), lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos contain it. And of course aluminum products, including foil, cans, juice pouches, tins, and water bottles contain it too.
We are told that fluoride in your drinking water prevents cavities and helps build strong teeth. This is blatantly untrue. As a recent study done on children in India reveals, fluoride is anything but a cavity fighter. Fluoride is toxic. So toxic in fact that the FDA requires toothpaste containing it to be labeled.
Prescription and OTC Drugs
You may have been told that if you dispose of your unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the trash instead of the toilet that you do not run any risk of it ending up in the water supply. Wrong! Water drains through landfills especially when it rains. It’s known as the leach rate. Eventually it ends up in rivers and the water table. Although not all states source drinking water from rivers, many do. Add that to the tons of drugs and other substances flushed down the toilets daily and we have a massive issue with the water supply.
According to studies, human cells cannot grow normally when exposed to even minute amounts of prescription or OTC drugs. Some drugs that are known to be dangerous when combined are mixed together in the drinking water you consume every day. Millions of people have drug allergies. And millions of children do not need to be exposed to toxic life-threatening drugs on a daily basis.
Pregnant women should also be cautious. The toxic substances you take into your body from tap water will have a negative effect on the development of your unborn baby. This is also true of any vaccinations you get, food you eat or alcohol you drink.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)
Most tap community water supplies are treated with chlorine and although it may not be the healthiest element you can consume, it is far better for you than what is left behind. Disinfection byproducts are the result of disinfecting water with chlorine. It is important to note that while consuming chlorine is certainly not healthy, the disinfection byproducts caused when chlorine combines with contaminants are far more dangerous
If you're thinking you're safe from all of the harmful contaminants because you filter your water or only drink bottled water, think again. It is know that 40% of bottled water is actually tap water. Some manufacturers do filter it, many do not.
Water from a soft plastic bottle also has its set of toxic concerns. Chemicals called bisphenol A or BPA’s are linked to prostate and breast cancer, risk of obesity, immune system dysfunction, learning and behavioral problems, and early puberty in children. Some health conscious people have been misled into believing that distilled water is healthy for them because the contaminants have been removed. This is simply not true. The problem with distilled water is that it is boiled and evaporated away from its dissolved minerals. The water then becomes acidic and seeks to balance itself by drawing minerals out of your body. Since it is usually sold in soft non-BPA free containers, it also draws out contaminants from the container it's stored in.
What's worse, any contaminant in the water that vaporizes at a lower temperature than the water, such as volatile organic compounds, like disinfection byproducts that are thousands of times as toxic as chlorine, will be condensed and actually concentrated into the finished distilled water product. So what you end up with is water that contains even more dangerous contaminants than what you started with!
Some people report that they experience an initial "high" when they start drinking alkaline water. This can easily be attributed to the detoxification effect, and the fact that they are likely just becoming better hydrated for the first time.
Detoxification is about the only benefit of alkaline water, and this benefit is limited to very SHORT TERM USE (no more than a week or two). An additional concern is that many individuals have stomach dysfunctions like GERD or ulcers that are largely related to having too little stomach acid. Long-term use of alkaline or ionized water can interfere with your body's natural digestive process by reducing the acid needed to properly break down and absorb food. This could then lead to an upset of your body's good bacteria, which can then open the door to parasitic infection, ulcers and malabsorption.
According to the International Journal of Experimental Pathology, a study found that young male rats developed heart muscle damage after drinking alkaline water. Ultimately alkaline water is used to sell the consumer on a form of cancer treatment. This form of treatment is supplemental only if you have cancer however; not to prevent it.
If you've recently switched from soda to vitamin water because you believe it to be a healthier choice, you may be disappointed. Vitamin waters are not healthy. They contain high levels of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and even caffeine. Manufacturers also use distilled water to produce the product so it has other hidden contaminants in it too.
Filtered Tap Water.
The most economical and environmentally sound choice you and your family can make is to purchase and install a water filter for your home. Filters do vary based on cost and quality, so let’s take a look at some of them:
Reverse Osmosis Filter (RO).
In addition to removing chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants in your water, an RO filter will also remove about 80 percent of the fluoride and most DPBs. The major drawback is the expense of installing an RO filter as most need a plumber to it get up and running. Its downside is that it also removes all the minerals which are needed to “hold” the water in the cell. If you go RO, have a liquid mineral supplement handy that adds the minerals back into the water. Some RO manufacturers have a system to do this for you.
Ion Exchange Filters.
Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up.
The ion exchange system was originally used in boilers and other industrial situations before becoming popular in home purifying units, which usually combine the system with carbon for greater effectiveness. One of the disadvantages of soft water is that it is neither healthy nor desirable for drinking. Since water is a universal solvent, most materials, especially metals, are partially soluble in water.
Granular Carbon and Carbon Block Filters
These are the most common types of counter top and under counter water filters used in the US. Granular carbon filters and carbon block systems perform the same process of contaminant removal and adsorption, which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter, thus blocking it from the water supply. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel. The pressure of the passage of water creates pathways (channels) through the carbon material. That means that after a time they are not effective at removing all materials and toxins. Carbon block filters offer the same filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple filtration in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved but is not absolute. Certain pollutants will not be removed when using a carbon water filter. These pollutants include toxic minerals, fluorides, nitrates and a range of microorganisms. When you choose water for you and your family, you want to aim for pH balance. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline. The ideal pH of your water should be somewhere between 6.5 to 7.5, which is considered neutral.
Mountain spring water is in this ideal range. It is some of the healthiest water on the planet because it is "living water". Living water, like "living food is in its raw, natural state the way nature intended. That means its mineral content is maintained, it’s oxygenated and structured.
Now, when I mention mountain spring water, I don't mean the two-gallon jugs you see sitting on your grocery store shelf, that water is unlikely to be any good or actually from a mountain spring. I'm talking about water you bottle yourself from a gravity-fed spring. That is the finest source on the planet. It’s not the easiest to find of course, but it is the best. That said spring water sold in bottles is an acceptable form, followed by RO with the minerals reintroduced into them.
How much pure filtered or spring water should you drink per day?
Six glasses? Eight? Ten? Generally speaking it should be half your body weight in ounces, or enough to turn your urine a light colored yellow. Keep in mind that the water you drink today gives you benefit tomorrow. Make sure you add those minerals back into the water so that the body can hold onto the water inside the cell.
So you need water. Hydration is essential to health and the way you feel. We give little credibility to how much water we drink or its importance, but rest assured, it matters. Both you and your health depend on it.