About 60% of the human body is made up of water, and many of us have learned that drinking water is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. It is not only critical to remember to remember to drink enough of it but it also important to think about where we are getting our water from and what that could mean for our health. This week’s blog post covers everything you need to know about how to keep your body hydrated and healthy.
Not All Water is Equal
One of the best ways to get pure, clear water is to avoid drinking out of plastic. Studies have shown that plastic can leach into our drinking water, especially when heated. Bottled water is also not necessarily safer or better than tap water. In fact, about 40 percent of bottled waters are actually just packaged and marketed tap water. Reusing single-use water bottles can also be unsafe as plastic can harbor bacteria and release plastic chemicals.
Drinking from bottled water can also be significantly more expensive, costing up to 1,900 times more. Plastic water bottles are also incredibly bad for our environment with about fifty million bottles every day piling up in our landfills in America alone. Instead, reusable glass or stainless steel bottles are the way to go. Just make sure that your water is filtered to remove any contaminants.
It is also important to check tap water quality in your area by viewing your local water company’s annual report and by checking EWG’s Tap Water Database. Concerningly, there are many contaminants in tap water that are at levels deemed legal by the Safe Drinking Water Act or state regulations but are still at high enough levels to pose health risks. These risks include cancer, neurological damage, fertility problems, developmental harm to children or fetuses, and hormonal disruption. Some of these contaminants include: chromium-6, lead, PFCs, microplastics, nitrates, industrial solvents, and pharmaceuticals.You can also request a lab test of your water source by calling the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline or finding state certified programs or laboratories on the EPA website. I have had many clients who have measurable levels of these contaminants in their bodies and some have been cleaned up by cleaning up the water that they are consuming and bathing in.
It is important to note that there are situations in which bottled water may be the best option, such as when the only available tap water is unsafe or when the water is being used for infant formula.
To improve your water quality, drink tap water – just make sure to use a filtration or purification system. Nowadays, there are many different types: pitcher/large-dispenser, faucet mounted, faucet-integrated, and more.
Activated carbon filters are good choices as they are economical and available in many forms. However, be aware of which filtration system you choose as effectiveness can vary. When looking at activated charcoal filters, look for coconut shell carbon, which is better at filtering chlorine and VOCs than standard charcoal. Carbon block filters can also be more effective than granular.
Another option is reverse osmosis, or RO filters, which are more expensive but can remove smaller toxins like arsenic, nitrates, hexavalent chromium, fluoride, trichloroethylene, and perchlorate as well as viral particles and radiation. Many RO filters include a carbon component to remove chlorine, trihalomethanes, or VOCs. For RO filters, get the highest rejection rate you can afford to maximize the percentage of total dissolved solids removed. The most expensive option on the market is a whole-house filter which can remove contaminants from your shower as well.
For my house, I chose to use a multi-stage carbon whole-house filter and then a reverse osmosis countertop filter for cooking and drinking water. Before we got the whole-house filter, I used a shower-head filter to remove chlorine and chlorine byproducts and the drinking water filter.
Of course, the quality of your water is important only if you are actually drinking it. Try keeping a bottle (glass or stainless steel, of course) with you wherever you go. I would recommend staying away from aluminum bottles however, which can contain a lining with BPA. If you find water bland and need some flavor, adding lemon, lime, oranges, cucumber, fresh mint or berries can help spice it up. Additionally, if you prefer fizz, you can try sparkling water and even add a small amount of berry juice. Hope that helps! Drinking the recommended amount of water is one of the easiest yet most neglected ways we can keep our body thriving.