Water Basics

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The Basics of Water

Water—Essential and Vital to a Healthy Body:

  • One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters in a University study.
  • Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water per 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.
  • 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.
  • Water is vital to the conduction of electricity and magnetic energy in our bodies. As we age, our body loses its ability to absorb water and we dehydrate little by little. Dehydration is a major component of the aging process.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

Joint inflammation, back problems, mental fogginess, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, angina, multiple sclerosis, and depression. Many of these symptoms are also core causes for obesity. So reach for the water before you try medications!

How much per day?

Water is essential for general health, detoxification and for weight loss. How much should you drink each day? Some health enthusiasts feel the rule of thumb is ½ ounce per pound of body weight; although that varies from person to person. Example: 150 lbs. x .5 oz. = 75 oz. ÷ 8 oz/cup = 9.4 cups of water per day for a 150 pound person. Others think that we should include in the equation, other things we drink. For example; some say we should drink one cup of water for every cup of coffee; because coffee is dehydrating. Others believe we should count the water in our foods in this total volume. What is right for you? We can determine this through muscle testing, but, what kind of water do you drink? Read on

Should You Test Your Water?

Even if you live in a city where water is effectively treated to meet State and Federal requirements… in our opinion, you should not be drinking water directly from the tap. Even if municipal water was completely free of contaminants (and it isn’t), it probably wouldn’t be contaminant-free when it came out of your faucet. Entry of subsoil or contaminated water through leaky pipes and joints may cause degradation of water quality in the water distribution system.

At the dead ends of the system accumulated solids contribute to the growth of biological organisms, which affect water quality. Many different types of water distribution piping have been used over the years and may still be in use.  In some places lead pipe and asbestos pipe may still be in use.  PVC and concrete pipes are common to more modern systems; both of which leach contaminants as they degrade. Water pipes in most homes, offices, etc. are made of PVC plastic or copper. Lead-based solder was used for copper pipe connections in many, many homes built prior to 1980.

Since 1980, lead-free solder is required for copper water pipe connections.  How old is your home? What kind of pipe delivers your water? In many water fixtures a brass alloy is used and contains some lead. When the water is in contact with the faucet and or copper water pipes for several hours, some lead leaches out of the fixtures or pipe connectors into the water. Corrosion of copper water pipes and fixtures can present a health hazard, as well. PVC water pipe – There are many concerns about PVC potentially leaching harmful chemicals into the water.

We don’t believe you should be drinking water straight from the tap no matter where you live or what kind of system supplies your water. Your options are to drink bottled water or choose the far safer alternative and install a water purification system. If you are going to install a water purification system you’ll need to have your water tested in order to know what contaminants are present. Knowing what is in your water helps insure you purchase a treatment system capable of removing those contaminants.

There are times when you should have your water tested even if you aren’t going to drink it. If there is a possibility of radon or toxic organic chemicals you need to have your water tested. Radon and volatile organic chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and/or inhaled. For example: A hot shower can increase your exposure to v.o.c.’s. And yes, a nice hot shower does increase your intake of chlorine… if your shower water isn’t filtered. *For Radon; inhalation of contaminated air is the more likely hazard.

Your local water purification & filtration company can test for chlorine, pH, nitrates, total dissolved solids, iron, and hardness. Most provide this service at no charge or obligation… in the hope you will become their customer, of course. They also offer recommendations on how to best treat your water. If your water comes from a private well, a spring, creek, river, or lake you should have your water tested by a certified analytical laboratory. And certainly, if you suspect radon or v.o.c.’s, you should have your water tested by a certified analytical laboratory.

*If you suspect Radon your indoor air should be also tested. I believe the peace of mind of knowing your potable water is safe to use is well-worth the investment. I encourage people with private wells to have their water tested by a laboratory, at the minimum, every two – five years. Folks with spring, creek, river, and lake water sources should have their water tested, at the very minimum, of once each year.

You can do it yourselfPurTest-Ohio Pure Water Company, Centerville, Ohio, offers a wide variety of easy-to-perform water test kits.

From our personal experience: In 2003-2004, the water source reservoir for the city where we lived experienced an algae bloom causing the water to stink horribly. Everyone in the community was complaining about it except; ourselves and our friends who had water treatment systems and shower filters. Because we had a water treatment system; we couldn’t smell or taste anything different and didn’t even know there was a problem with the water until we heard the complaints. What a blessing!

Reverse Osmosis water:

  • Produced by forcing water against semi permeable membranes.
  • Reverse osmosis water is filtered water
  • Reverse osmosis removes most contaminants; bacteria, cysts, nitrates, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, VOC’s…
  • It also removes minerals from the water… including sodium from your water softener.
  • Uses 1-8 gal. tap water to make 1 gal. reverse osmosis water. The “waste” water carries the contaminants removed by the r/o system down the drain. In other words; there is NO wasted water.
  • Reverse osmosis water can be slightly acidic but not always. An inexpensive calcite post filter can raise the pH.
  • Reverse osmosis is passive; uses no electricity, creates no heat or humidity and is silent. *Some RO systems use electricity but most do not.
  • System maintenance – Change the pre-filters twice a year and the membrane once each 2 – 5 years depending on water conditions and usage.
  • If your water contains sediment or is heavily chlorinated install a pre-filter.

Distilled water

  • Distilled water is boiled, dead water
  • Usually distilled water is quite acidic. A calcite post filter can help.
  • There are no minerals in distilled water
  • Distilled water tends to leach minerals from your body
  • Distilled water is less bio-available to the system
  • It takes 25-40 cents of energy to produce 1 gallon of distilled water. Distillers create a great deal of heat… as much as a small portable electric heater, plus humidity.
  • Distilling removes sediments, pathogens, dissolved solids and many chemicals
  • Distilling may not remove some contaminants such as chloroform, nitrates and organic solvents
  • Batch distillers are comparatively water efficient.
  • Water cooled distillers are more energy efficient and can remove more VOC’s
  • Water comes out of the distiller HOT and you have to wait until it cools before drinking.
  • Distillers require almost NO maintenance when the incoming water is softened. Without softening, hard water scale builds up and is difficult to remove.

Hard vs. Soft water

“Hard” water is water containing a significant level of dissolved calcium and/or magnesium. The disadvantage of hard water is more soap or detergent is needed to get clothing, dishes or other items clean.  Hard water combines with soap to create a “scum” in the form of a ring in your bathtub. It creates the ring of stain in your toilet.

Note: It is this very same “scum” you feel on your skin after showering in hard water. Instead of being “squeaky” clean; in reality, you are “squeaky” dirty. Additional note about Soft Water – That temporary, slightly “sticky” feeling we experience when we step out of a soft water shower is caused by our own body oils. That feeling lasts but a few minutes; until our body is dry.

Soft water makes hair feel softer and skin smoother. Soft water offers other advantages; it prevents scale build up inside our water pipes, fixtures and water heater. Soft water can save 21 to 29% off your water heating bill.

Should you drink softened water? If you have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure you should avoid drinking it. If you are on a low-salt diet or seeking to reduce your salt intake you shouldn’t drink softened water. However, recent studies have shown that the amount of salt consumed by drinking softened water is insignificant when compared to overall daily salt intake.

If you love soft water as many people do, then, simply choose the most efficient water softener available and install a reverse osmosis system to remove the remaining sodium from your drinking and cooking water. *The most efficient water softeners and water conditioners use a technique called, “Counter Current” rebrining. EcoWater Systems and Kinetico Water Systems products use counter current rebrining.

Potassium chloride; the table salt substitute recommended by many physicians, can be used as a substitute for Sodium chloride (salt) in water softeners.

Well water

Private Wells and private water systems may have high levels of contaminants. Private water systems may have improperly sealed (or unsealed) well heads and/or unsealed or open holding tanks. The risks here are the presence of algae, decaying plant matter, insects, animal waste products and bacteria. If you live in farming country, live near a feedlot, or near a poorly designed septic system, Nitrates can be a serious problem, as well. High nitrate levels and that of some other contaminants can be seasonal. You may need to test for nitrates more than once during the year.

Your well water may look and smell just fine, and you’ve been drinking it for years without any apparent problems. However, some pollutants stress the body and make it more susceptible to disease… diseases that may appear to be unrelated to your water. Remember… It’s those little things we do over a long period of time that, too often, cause chronic disease.

  • Well water can be high in minerals causing excess plaque and tartar on the teeth, and plaque in your veins
  • Well water can be hard on the kidneys because of all the excess minerals
  • Well water can contain bacteria and other contaminants/pollutants.
  • Well water can be successfully treated with a variety of purification and filtration systems; softening, reverse osmosis, distillation, filtration, ultra-violet light, and others.
  • Well water should be tested, at the very least, every two – five years.

Question: Can you name the roundworm raccoons carry in their digestive tract which can infect humans who drink raccoon fecal contaminated water? This parasite enters the bloodstream and embeds in the brain, literally ‘eating’ the brain and eventually killing the human.

Answer: Baylisascaris.

Now, if that doesn’t stimulate you to filter your water I don’t know what will?

Springs and clear flowing streams

While these bring up a vision of purity and freshness we need to remember who, besides ourselves is using and drinking from these water sources. Animals and birds drink from these sources and often leave behind their waste. Some insects drink and may lay their eggs in the water. A single swallow of this fresh, pure-looking water may contain literally billions of microorganisms, some of which are harmful to humans. When out hiking, if you can’t carry your own water, you should carry a portable water filter and… use it. Of course, you can boil the water for 10 minutes (full boil) before you drink it.

If your home water source is a spring, you need to, at the very minimum; filter your drinking water. Installation of an Ultra Violet light to kill bacteria is an excellent idea, one that is Highly Recommended! From my own experience… our lender required a clean, safe water test before lending us the money to purchase a home, a home with a lovely, fast flowing, and fresh, pure-looking spring. The first water test and two follow up tests found Coliform bacteria. The realtor, willing to do whatever it took to complete the sale, cut a hole in the spring house floor… and found a dead/decaying weasel floating in the water.  When we removed the weasel and poured a bottle of Clorox laundry bleach into the spring the Coliform bacteria disappeared.

We installed an ultraviolet light system to insure there would be no Coliform bacteria problems in the future and of course, we took a peek into the spring regularly. Note: The family of seven, including an infant and toddlers, had been drinking and cooking with this “weasel” water for quite some time… without any obvious challenges. I still wonder why they weren’t all seriously ill or how long it might have been before they became seriously ill.

Filtered Water:

There are two types of filtration processes: mechanical and adsorption. Mechanical filtration can filter out substances as small as a one micron. Carbon filters use Adsorption filtration to remove substances as small as five micron. There are many varieties and types of filters. The tiny faucet mounted carbon filters are not very effective in removing parasites, bacteria or viruses from the water. Carbon filter effectiveness varies with the kind of carbon, the design, size of filter, volume, and how long it takes the water to pass through the filter. A quality water treatment system uses both kinds of filtration. *Larger filters are more effective than smaller filters.

Mini Filters

We do not recommend the small, self-contained “mini” filters that attach to the kitchen faucet. These filters do not contain enough carbon to allow the water flowing through them to have adequate contact time. If you trickle the water through them as slowly as you can and change the filter often (more often than the manufacturer recommends) they will provide a measure of protection.

They are certainly better than no filtration at all. However, the cost of replacing the filters so often makes them quite expensive in the long run.

  • Mini filters offer an adsorption filtration system
  • Charcoal filters in these systems are comparably expensive
  • Effective filter life may be 30 days or less depending on how much water is filtered, at what flow rate.
  • Most water tests I have performed on these systems do not pass the chlorine test because people don’t change the filter often enough.

**Refrigerator Filters; Most should be changed more often than manufactures recommend for similar reasons.

Alkaline water:

Alkaline water passes through body tissues more efficiently than conventional water; therefore, it hydrates us much more effectively. Alkaline water helps combat the acid condition caused by poor eating habits to help maintain a healthy, disease-fighting system. Cancer and degenerative conditions abhor an alkaline environment.

HEADLINE: Treated Drinking Water Not Safe Enough

A Harvard School of Public Health study showed the elderly particularly sensitive to waterborne hazards. Ten percent of hospital admissions for people over age 65 for gastrointestinal illness can be blamed on harmful microbes in drinking water. A study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found an association between day-to-day variations in drinking water to urbanity and the number of Medicare hospital admission for gastrointestinal illness.

Now, this was a study done in Pennsylvania, but I see this trend all over the Unites States. Small towns in particular, too often, have poor water treatment systems. In my last practice in Idaho, the city would chlorinate the water the day prior to when the water samples were taken… insuring those samples would pass the mandated water test! The rest of the time the water was ingested by the public with NO chlorine in it. Yet another good reason for a high-quality water filter!

My rule of thumb for small towns? If the water is brown in the local rivers then make sure you filter it, because the local systems are generally so poor they couldn’t possibly handle that overload of contamination. The increase in urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal disorders can validate this in the winter months. And I’m telling you right now, older people and immune compromised people just can’t handle the extra stress of the contamination. They die. I’ve seen it.

What about Chlorine?

Certainly, we need to treat our water to protect ourselves and our families from water-born contaminants like viruses, bacteria, Giardia and other parasites. Chlorine is the commonly used chemical for this job, but after it has completed its job; it should be filtered out of both our drinking water and the water we use for bathing and showers.

Showering in chlorinated water we are directly exposing ourselves through the skin and respiratory tract with a concentration of chorine equal to drinking up to 50 glasses of chlorinated water a day! Chlorine; just one more major chemical we are exposing ourselves to. Get a shower filter!

Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory director, Francis T. Mayo says about chlorine:

“Scientific studies have linked chlorine and chlorination by-products to cancer of the bladder, liver, rectum, and colon, as well as heart disease, atherosclerosis, anemia, high blood pressure, and allergic reactions.”

OK, so why not just minimize the exposure and shower or bathe less frequently? Well, 30% of all toxins are excreted through the largest organ of our body–the skin. Bathing everyday can be a critical key for those with chronic diseases and for those who want to prevent disease. Not bathing can increase the acid buildup in our body. Disease processes thrive in acid environments.

Coffee, Tea. . .or Salmonella?

HEADLINE: Airline Water is Dangerous to Your Health.

In a 2003 National Enquirer expose, Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project quoted, “Some of the water was so badly contaminated you might as well drink water out of the toilet.” This expose states Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas were all cultured out of airplane water samples. They also noted that the people who filled the water tanks are the same ones that empty the sewage from the planes. This is not a comforting picture.

And many of us know the air we breathe in airplanes is re-circulated and can cause sickness, but did you know that the water tanks may be disinfected only rarely? And some people actually brush their teeth with that water after eating during a flight!

Fun Facts on Bottled Water:

About 70 percent of the water people drink comes from outside the home. The bottled water industry earns more than $5 billion worldwide. Why? Because the public is willing to invest as much as $10 for a gallon of water. In fact, marketing of bottled water is so successful people spend from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they typically do for tap water. Why pay more for water of unknown quality and from a questionable source?

One Natural Resources Defense Council study tested more than 1000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water for quality. Approximately 1/3 of the waters tested were contaminated with organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety. But did you know that bottled water packaged and sold within the same state are out of that jurisdiction? And that this accounts for about 60-70 percent of all water sold in the United States? Even when bottled water IS covered by the FDA’s rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than tap water.

In addition, bottled water rules actually allow for some contamination by E. coli or fecal Coliform. This would be unheard of for tap water standards.

There are no requirements for bottled water to be tested for parasites such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia. These types of parasites can be devastating and can actually kill you.

A study done on high school students re-using their water bottles was completed. The findings? Sixty percent of the bottles were so contaminated with bacteria that the water was not even fit to drink (not potable). Their conclusion was that if you are going to re-use bottles at all, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and then dried completely before reusing.

Toxic chemicals leach into the water from the plastic bottle if the plastic is heated or cooled to any extreme. Some naturopaths I know call this PCB fortified water! This is not funny! Many in the naturopathic world believe that part of the Gulf War Syndrome symptoms are caused from these chemicals leaching into the fluids our soldiers drank during their tour of duty in that desert.

These substances are stored within the body causing symptoms much like fibromyalgia. On top of that, those high temperatures, plastics and diet drinks caused additional problems by transforming the Nutrasweet into formaldehyde…a deadly combination.

Some bottled waters have extra minerals in them depending on their source.

Most bottled water has an acid pH. (See list below) The pH of the water we drink affects the body pH. Ideally, our body will have a slightly alkaline pH. Disease prefers an acid environment.

Often the source of bottled water is questionable. About one-fourth of bottled water is actually bottled tap water, according to government and industry estimates. And FDA rules allow bottlers to call their product “spring water” although it may be brought to the surface using a pumped well, and it may be treated with chemicals.

So, Which Water Do You Drink? Water pH.

The following pH’s were taken with pH paper. Those waters listed with 3 digit numbers were double-checked with a pH meter. Note: The readings represent the pH of these products on the test day only. pH can vary with changes in the water or within the product ingredients.

  • Air Water pH 8.28
  • Aqua Rush Ultimate Fitness Water pH 8.37
  • Aquafina pH 6.56
  • Arrowhead pH 5.8
  • City Tap, Genesee, ID 8.60
  • City Tap, Moscow, ID pH 7.20-7.50 depending on the day
  • City Tap, Pullman, WA 7.66
  • Club Soda, Western Family pH 4.42
  • Crystal Cascade pH 7.53
  • Culligan pH .6.70
  • Dasani pH 5.60
  • Distilled, Flavorite 5.55
  • Earth20 pH 8.21
  • Ecowater pH 7.05
  • Evamore pH 9.22
  • Evian pH 7.56
  • Idaho Ice pH 6.75
  • Nikken water system with Moscow, ID city tap pH 7.20
  • Snowy Mountain pH 7.38
  • Spring Water, Western Family pH 8.15
  • Talking Rain, Carbonated pH 5.3
  • Talking Rain, uncarbonated pH 7.87

Dr. Moffat’s Notes: I realize investing in a quality water treatment system can be expensive, but it is essential for your optimal health. In our own home; we have a whole-house water treatment system and drink reverse osmosis water.

Helpful Links and Resources on the Water Basics: