Our bodies contain at least 60% water.

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In fact, you could say that our inner organs are bathed in it. To say that water is important for living would be an understatement. Water contains only three molecules – 1 oxygen and 2 hydrogen (H2O), but within those three little molecules exists the components of our survival.

“Water is the primary component of all the bodily fluids – blood, lymph, digestive juices, urine, tears, and sweat. Water is involved in almost every bodily function: circulation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of wastes. Water carries the electrolytes, mineral salts that help convey electrical currents in the body. Water requirements vary greatly from person to person.  The climate in which we live, our activity level, and our diet all influence our individual needs for water.”

Clearly, water isn’t just for drinking. Because our body can only function as optimally as the degree with what it’s fed, choosing water becomes a very important decision. Ideally, we need uncontaminated water-whether it’s been treated with health-compromising chemicals or has become polluted some other way- only water with the most natural balance of minerals will keep us healthy.

Most tap water in the U.S. today is treated with chemicals (chlorine, phosphates, and other chemicals) intended to kill unwanted organisms an make it safe for human consumption. However, additional contaminants- fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste products and now even pharmaceutical medication- contaminate our water supply and are not completely filtered out.

In March 2008, the Washington Post reported a study undertaken on the water supply in Arlington, Virginia by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The researchers found small concentrations of pharmaceutical medications – anti-seizure medications, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs – in the water. In another study, researchers found “pharmaceuticals, along with trace amounts of caffeine…in the drinking water supplies of 24 of 28 U.S. metropolitan areas tested.”  This was the first time that the federal government had funded such a study and the results were certainly surprising if not astounding.

This raises the question: which water is safe to drink?

Well Water

Even well water is becoming less safe because it comes from groundwater supplies.  It can vary in mineral content and can contain heavy metals, insecticides, agricultural wastes and even gasoline by-products.  If we are drinking well water, then it should be tested for mineral content as well as contaminants.

Spring Water and Mineral Water

Walk into any grocery store and you will see rows upon rows of spring water for sale. This is the “natural” water found in underground springs, but near to the surface of the earth. This water may be disinfected with chlorine, but otherwise is not processed. Since it comes from underground sources, it may also contain harmful chemicals. Make certain that the water has been tested and you can get lab reports from the companies selling the water. Also, different parts of the country have different amounts of minerals in their underground springs. Water from the Midwest has the highest mineral content.

Most of the spring water is bottled in plastic bottles that have come under scrutiny as of late for being carcinogenic, which can lead to more serious health issues.  Of course, it would be ideal to drink spring water from glass bottles – that is, if these can be found. Mineral water, on the other hand, is spring water that is found deeper in the earth in underground pools. Even though the water is naturally “bubbly,” carbon dioxide is added to make it carbonated. Make certain that the water has been checked for contamination.

Filtered Water

This is water that has been treated with a carbon filter to remove chemicals, metals and bacteria. This is one of the best forms of water to drink. The minerals stay intact and the most common contaminants are filtered out. There are home units that can be purchased and attached to the home’s water supply – even the shower. There are many types available, each having different capabilities.

Distilled Water

Distilled water is actually tap water that has been boiled until the minerals have been steamed out. It also may be highly filtered to remove all minerals and trace elements.  It is great for ironing and for some detoxification programs, but not for everyday use. The reality is that we need the minerals that water provides so that we don’t experience dehydration.

How Much Water Do We Need?

We can’t judge by our thirst how much water we need, except when we are thirsty it means that we may be dehydrated. Many people have metabolic imbalances that either makes them thirsty all the time or not even experience much thirst. So, in general, with or without signals for thirst, just know that a certain amount of water is needed each day to achieve good hydration.

All of the beverages we drink – coffee, tea, sodas – are mostly water sources that contain other ingredients. But, consuming only these beverages may lead to dehydration, especially those that contain caffeine, alcohol and acids.

The amount of water that we need is based on a few factors – our size, activity level, the temperature and how much we sweat. On the average we should drink at least 2 quarts of water or half our weight in ounces per day. According to Elson Haas, M.D., our daily water loss is approximately two quarts. This water is lost through urine (50%), skin (25%), lungs (19%), and feces (6%).  There are special circumstances such as exercise, sauna therapy, detoxification, hard labor, weight loss and profuse perspiration, in which our daily need will increase primarily as a result of increased loss of water.

It is best to drink small amounts of water throughout the day to keep fully hydrated. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times so that you can take sips fairly often and as a reminder to drink some water throughout the day.

Defining Bottled Water

Under FDA labeling rules, bottled water includes products labeled:

Bottled water*   Mineral water

Drinking water*   Sparkling bottled water

Artesian water*   Purified water:  distilled, demineralized,

Deionized, reverse osmosis

Waters with added carbonations, such as soda water, tonic water and seltzer water historically are regulated as soft drinks. All of the new flavored and nutrient-added waters must meet bottled water requirements. The flavorings and nutrients added must comply with all FDA safety requirements and must be identified on the label.

Quality of Bottled Water

Bottled water is one of the preferred sources of water for most Americans. In 2008, Americans drank 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water. This is about 27 gallons per person.  In fact, bottled water was the second most popular beverage in the U.S. Only carbonated soft drinks out-sell bottled water. More than half drink it because they believe it is safer and healthier than tap water. But, is it safer?

The reality is that almost one-third of bottled waters have no information on their labels. When the Environmental Working Groups conducted a survey of the bottled water companies, only two out of the 188 companies provided information about the water’s source and quality. In response, Congress enacted legislation in the fall of 2009 that charged the FDA with setting up guidelines to require bottlers to report test results showing the safety of the bottled water.  The FDA has set Current Good Manufacturing Practices(CGMPs) specifically for bottled water.  They require producers to:

Process, bottle, hold and transport bottled water under sanitary conditions.

Protect water sources from bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants.

Use quality control processes to ensure the bacteriological and chemical safety of the water.

Sample and test both source water and the final product for contamination.

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