With the topic of clean water, I’m often reminded of how I teach college students about germs.
You might think that by college, most people are pretty knowledge about germ transmission and how to prevent it but this isn’t always the case. When I teach about food safety and germ/foodborne illness transmission, I tell a story about how 5 year-olds learn about germs—it’s such a new concept for them because you can’t see germs and everything in their lives up until then has been pretty tangible. They have to learn conceptually about what germs are, where they might be, and how to prevent spreading them. The same issue applies to water. If it looks clean, and smells clean… is it good for you to drink? We all know this is not necessarily the case, but how do you decide what water you’ll drink? There is a lot of information circulating about which water is best (and I’m not sure there’s a true absolute answer), but as with most things in life, it’s important to strike a balance in choosing (get adequate hydration and protection from contaminants, but also not spend your whole paycheck on fancy water that is unnecessary).
What’s In Your Water??
Depending on where you live, there are a lot of invisible things in your water. If you own your home in the US, you probably get a report each year about the contents of your water. If you rent, I’m guessing you never see this report (I don’t). Either way, you can keep tabs on it by checking out the EPA Drinking Water website. I suggest you do this! As a country, we’re sweeping ourselves into a new wave of social change. Think: California’s Propositions to do things like ban plastic bags and require GMO labeling. Even if the props don’t initially pass, it’s amazing that we can affect what is important enough to be voted on! As members of this wave of social change, we have a responsibility to find out what we’re consuming (beyond what’s on food labels and how clean the water looks). And once we know? We become empowered to enhance and protect our own health. No one is going to do it for you.
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
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Choose: Mineral Water
I don’t believe there is a Perfect Water to drink. I don’t know of one that fits both the requirement of having absolute purity and being reasonably priced. As a result, there are some considerations to make when choosing your water.
Consider cost and the environment as well as your health.
In other words, don’t buy plastic water bottles. Even if the bottles are BPA-free (which is a step better), they are still terrible for the environment and not cost effective. Buy a glass bottle and a water filter and refill it. Don’t be lazy. It’s almost the easiest thing you’ll do all day, you just have to get into the habit.
Decide what aspects of water are important to you.
Should you buy filtered water or buy a water filter? Yes. See the EPA Water website and look up your local water stats if you’re unsure of this one. Most people realize it’s important to drink filtered water because we know there are toxins and chemicals (like pharmaceuticals, chlorine, etc.) in tap water. The more common question regarding this issue is which filter to buy. Brita and Pur are the two most common that I’ve seen, and they both do an adequate job of filtering the major toxins out of the water (or at least reducing them). Keep in mind that (1) they both say they reduce the smell and taste of chlorine but they don’t say they actually filter out the chlorine, and (2) you need to change the filters on schedule to get the benefits over time! I’ve used both Brita and Pur filters (faucet and pitcher) in the past, and I think they are the best option for the most reasonable initial investment and moderate results. I also think you can do better if it fits into your budget and if you think you need more minerals in your diet (which you most likely can benefit from even if you’re not deficient).
Do you want to drink mineral water? I do. Minerals are the overlooked micronutrients in our diets. In earlier times, our soil contained more minerals, our diets contained more mineral rich foods (read: less processed and not from factories or factory farms). In today’s American diet, even a pretty healthy one, people are often deficient in magnesium and calcium, as well as other minerals (like zinc and even some of the trace minerals).
Having adequate mineral intake leads to:
- Better overall health
- Improved immune function
- Improved cell health (often including improvements in skin and joint health)
- Better bone density
- Improved energy levels
- Better oral health
- Reduced inflammation
- Better hydration (not just from the water, but from the better electrolyte profile in the body)
Drinking mineral water is an easy way to boost your body’s mineral profile. You can buy it in glass bottles. Gerolsteiner is my favorite for this because (1) you can recycle the bottle, and (2) the mineral profile is great—lots of calcium, moderate magnesium, and low in sodium. You can also buy a mineral filtration system, pitcher, or reusable filter bottle, such as the Santevia system (this is what I have on my counter and although it’s big and not beautiful, it’s not offensive, and I love the water). In the countertop model, the water is filtered (through earthenware ceramic, coconut carbon charcoal, volcanic Zeolite, and silica sand), and then the rocks in the tank are mineral dense Maifan stones infused with absorbable calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and other trace minerals are put back into the water.
I’m not saying you need to buy the Santevia water system, but I recommend that you consider drinking filtered mineral water to (1) protect yourself from water contaminants (that you can’t see, taste, or smell), and (2) boost your mineral intake to promote great health.
Some people are concerned that the carbonation in bottled mineral water (like Gerolsteiner) might be bad for tooth enamel, and I can’t say too much about that, except it’s the lesser evil compared to sodas and diet sodas! I’ve had clients switch to mineral water with a few drops of flavored stevia and even flavor extracts to fill a soda-craving!
Currently, I’m on a water kick (I go through phases), and after a few days of filling up my mason jar throughout the day, I can tell a difference in my skin hydration level. I haven’t paid attention quite enough to determine if I feel an energy boost or not, but I’ll try to keep tabs!
I need to know…
What water do you drink?
Did you look up your local water profile? Were you surprised?
Have you ever thought about your mineral intake?