Research on drinking water is highly fragmented and opinionated. Studies on water and heart disease ignore the findings on drinking water and cancer and vice versa.
Healthy Water brings this diverse and confusing research into a coherent focus. Read what makes drinking water both safe and healthy.
Healthy Water is not a book about water pollution, but it's a good idea to be educated about the extent of this problem. Reports from two leading environmental organizations (the National Research Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group) claim that 53 million Americans - roughly 1 in 5 - are drinking polluted water.
Most of us have been told we need to drink a minimu of 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. But if you were to record how much you drink, you'd be amazed at how little it actually is.
Man of our health problems are the result of dehydration. We've lost touch with our body's demands for water and have instead substituted food or other drinks for water.
Ironically, many of the liquids we choose, such as alcohol, juice, soft drinks, coffee, and tea actually dehydrate the body - thus adding to the problem.
In numerous published studies on the relationship between drinking water and cardiovascular mortality, two beneficial factors continue to stand out - water "hardness" and total dissolved solids (TDS). Both are associated with lower mortality from heart disease.
Hardness refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium, or calcium carbonate in the water. The more calcium carbonate, the harder the water; lower amounts mean softer water.
TDS is a measurement of all the minerals in the water, not just calcium or magnesium.
One major study, the British Regional Heart Study, analyzed 253 towns in the UK. It fund 10% to 15% more cardiovascular deaths in soft water areas than in hard water areas.
The ideal level of water hardness - around 170 mg/l - resulted in lower levels of heart disease.
Some studies have reported that higher levels of sodium in drinking water result in higher blood pressure (hypertension). However, most studies do not support this finding.
There is no conclusive evidence showing a correlations between high levels of sodium in drinking water and higher mortality rates from hypertension.
This may be due to water supplies that are high in sodium are also high in the beneficial factors of hardness and total dissolved solids.
If we want to lower our sodium intake, we should look to our diets - 90% of all the sodium consumed is in the food we eat.
It’s estimated 60% to 80% of all cancers are environmental in origin. Several studies have demonstrated the presence of chemical carcinogens in surface, ground water, and municipal treated drinking water.
However, often overlooked are the beneficial properties in drinking water that can help protect us from cancer – namely total dissolved solids (TDS), hardness, and pH.
Burton and Cornhill analyzed the drinking water in the 100 largest cities in America. They found a 10% to 25% reduction in the amount of cancer deaths if the drinking water has a moderately high level of TDS (around 300 mg/l), if the water was hard, and if the water had an alkaline pH (above 7.0).
Drinking water with higher amounts of TDS and hardness results in lower heart disease and cancer mortality rates.
Flouridation is a highly emotional and controversial issue in which it's difficutl to separate fact from fiction. The bottom line: Is it effective? Is it safe?
After a 40-day fluoridation trial in Illinois, Judge Ronald A. Newman ruled, that "a conclusion that fluoride is a safe effective means of promoting dental health cannot be supported by this record."
Fluoride toxicity has been linked to genetic damage in plants and animals, birth defects in humans, plus a series of allergic reactions ranging from fatigue, headaches, urinary tract irritations, diarrhea and many other problems.
Dr. Dean Burk, former researcher with the National Cancer Institute, claims "one tenth of all cancer deaths in this country can be shown to be linked to fluoridation of public drinking water."
Worldwide there is very little fluoridation. Countries that start usually end up stopping it.
Is the chlorine in our drinking water acting as a catalyst triggering tumor development both in atherosclerosis (heart disease) and cancer? In the late 1960s Joseph Price, MD, wrote a fascinating, yet largely ignored book entitled, "Coronaries, Cholesterol, Chlorine."
His experiments clearly demonstrate that "the basic cause of atherosclerosis and heart attacks and most common forms of strokes is chlorine. The chlorine contained in drinking water."
Can chlorine be linked to cancer too? Chlorine combines with natural organic matter creating cancer-causing trihalomethanes (THMs).
Studies from Louisiana, New York, Maryland, and Ohio reveal where there are higher levels of THMs there are higher levels of cancer. Proper water filtration systems can remove these carcinogens.
Most animal experiments use water that is artificially made "hard" or "soft" to which harmful substances like cadmium, lead, chlorine or fluoride have been added. The typical results from these experiments are the animals drinking the hard water have less of the harmful agents in their tissues than the animals drinking the soft water.
The animal research dramatically supports the same conclusions observed in the human studies. Namely, that hard water is healthier than soft water.
De-mineralized water contains little or no minerals. This is the type of water you get if you use a distiller, reverse osmosis (RO), or de-ionization.
Creating a "healthy water" means removing the harmful agents while retaining beneficial minerals. According to Dr. John Sorenson, a leading authority on mineral metabolism, "Minerals in drinking water are more easily and better absorbed than minerals from food."
Bottled water is big business. Bottled water usually tastes better than what comes out of the tap. But is it "healthy water?" It depends on several factors.
Is it hard? Is it moderately high in TDS (total dissolved solids)? Most bottled waters in the United States do not give the information you need to answer these questions. Request a complete water analysis from the company or check their web site.
Many bottled waters are processed water using distillation, reverse osmosis, de-ionization or filtration. Frankly, you can do this yourself and save money.
Of the more than 700 brands of bottled water available in the US, around 80% are processed water.
Purchase only bottled natural spring or artesian well waters that come closest to the "healthy water" criteria - hardness 170 mg/l and TDS around 300 mg/l.
Another "healthy water" option is using an effective filter. There are excellent, mediocre, and poor filters on the market. Most states require 3rd party testing of water products; however, most people have difficulty understanding the results.
For example, a filter removing chlorine that is only tested for taste and odor and not for chemical compounds, (such as THMs and heavy metals) is useless and gives consumers a false sense of safety. One of the best tests to look for is how well the filter removes chloroform while retaining minerals.
Preliminary research suggests that the ingestion of harmful chemicals from drinking water may not be the primary exposure.
Skin absorption rates for toxic chemicals in both children and adults are much higher than from oral ingestion for toluene, ethyl benzene, and styrene.
Inhalation during showering of TCE (trichloroethylene) was 6 to 80 times greater than from drinking the water. Lovers of hot tubs and pools take note.
One solution to consider is a whole-house filtration system for chemical removal, not mineral extraction. Point of use filters for bathing, showering, and drinking are also recommended.
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| Several years ago I was working on a degree in nutrition and decided to write about drinking water and health. Researching and talking to different teachers, I found everyone had lots of opinions. But when I asked why one kind of water was better than another water, no one had any reasonable proof. Everything was based on hearsay.
Around that time I was swayed by the superficial unsubstantiated argument that minerals in drinking water are useless at best, and harmful at worst. But as I started to collect the data the medical research's relationship on drinking water to heart disease and cancer, I started to see a different picture.
Most of the articles clearly showed the benefits of minerals in drinking water. The result of all this was "Healthy Water for a Longer Life" - called the "best book on the subject" by reviewers. Later I wrote a summary of the book entitled "Healthy Water." I think you'll find "Healthy Water" will answer your fundamental questions and leave you with the knowledge to make the right choices concerning your drinking and bathing water.