Drink Your Way to Optimal Health

How to Make Smart Choices about Your Drinking Water

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Last month I started drinking alkaline water. I was feeling bloated and out of sorts. From my research I decided this might be a good change for me. However, when I mentioned it to friends, clients and students, many had no idea what alkaline water was.

As I investigated further, I found nine different kinds of water to choose from. Not all water is created equal. Some are pricey while some provide more nutrients than others. I wanted to know which would be best for me to drink.

“Water is like olive oil,” said Karin Edgett, nutritional cook, who has done much research on the subject. “The industry is not regulated. You need to do your research. And you have to trust that what the company is saying on its label is the truth.”

Tap Water
Let’s start with tap water. I went on the DC Water website to find out what I’m brushing my teeth with (I use a Brita filter for the water my dogs and I drink). I read the 2017 Drinking Water Quality Report. DC uses “chloramine (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) to disinfect the water delivered to the District,” the website stated. The treatment process also uses fluoride. Further down the webpage: “Chloramine must be removed from water used in aquariums and kidney dialysis.” It also talked about checking with your doctor if you have cancer or other diseases. I asked Karin.

“Chloramine is a chemical that destroys everything in its path. It is used to disinfect water and is similar to chlorine but not a gas,’ she explained. “It is a known toxin to everything from amphibians to lead pipes.” She also said that many municipalities in addition to DC use chloramine. However, she also said, many others will no longer use it.

I checked with my Brita filter. While it does filter out several toxins Brita does not filter out fluoride nor does it filter out chloramine. It states it only eliminates the odor and taste of chlorine. The good news is there are water filtrations systems that will.

Purified Water
Purified water is bottled tap water. It’s good for communities that can’t drink their tap water like Flint, Michigan. Karin recommends that if you are buying bottled purified water you should find out what is in it. “You also have to be careful about the plastics in which the water is bottled,” explained Karin. “Chemicals from the plastic bottle can leech into the water especially if it’s been heated somewhere in transport.”

Distilled Water
This type of water is boiled and the steam is collected and condensed back into a liquid. “It’s best for use in chemical labs that are doing experiments and just need H2O,” said Karin. There are no health benefits from drinking distilled water. In fact, it has the potential to be detrimental. Non-mineralized water pulls mineral from where it can – your body and specifically, your teeth.

Mineral Water
As its name implies, it’s full of minerals including sulfur, magnesium and calcium and can provide beneficial minerals our bodies don’t produce. It can also help aid in digestion and it offers a taste different from tap water. “You can add a small pinch of Celtic sea salt (sel grey) to any water to give it some electrolytes and minerals,” said Karin. “Do not use table or kosher salt. It is a very inexpensive way to mineralize and electrolyze your water.”

Sparkling Water
Sometimes called carbonated water or soda water, sparkling water has CO2 in it. It can be a welcome taste difference from regular water. Some sparkling water can be mineralized such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, but they don’t usually contain enough minerals to be a real health benefit.

“Sparkling water will bind with minerals in your body, in particular calcium, which could lead to kidney stones,” said Karin. “If that’s all you are drinking, you are draining your body of minerals which can be a concern as you age.”

Well Water
Well water comes straight from the ground. The quality of the water depends on the quality of the well. Testing well water annually can ensure it is suitable for drinking.

Flavored or Infused Water
Water that has sugar or artificial sweeteners and natural or artificial flavorings offers an alternative to plain water. (Hint or Propel) It’s easy to avoid sugars or artificial sweeteners by adding your own fruit or vegetable. “You can make your own infused water with a piece of mint or a slice of lemon or lime,” said Karin. “Any fresh fruit or vegetable or herb will work.”

Alkaline Water
This water has a higher ph level than other water and contains alkaline minerals. If you research alkaline water, you will find many articles promoting its benefits. My joints have felt more limber since I started drinking it and I think that’s because I am more hydrated. Alkaline water is said to help neutralize acid in the body, help slow the aging process or even prevent cancer by keeping the pH level in the body balanced. Testimonials abound from alkaline water drinkers who say their acid reflux disappeared after drinking the water. However, there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of alkaline.

I find it really quenches my thirst while I’m working (teaching exercise or training a client) or working out. However, I do not exclusively drink alkaline water. I also drink spring water.

Spring Water
Spring water is a type of bottled water that claims to be bottled at the source from where the water flows. It generally is rich in nutrients and generally unadulterated, said Karin. “It can be absorbed better by the body so it can hydrate you better.” You can buy it in stores or have it delivered. Karin uses Mountain Valley Spring Water from Maryland.

Which Water is Best?
Drink the kind of water that works for you. Do your research and know what you are drinking. To make my DC water potable, I’ll be ditching my Britta in place of a filter that eliminates any neurotoxins from my water. Then I’ll add trace minerals and/or electrolytes that I’ll buy in Yes, Mom’s, Whole Foods or Amazon. When Karin added the trace mineral drops to my spring water, I thought it had a smoother taste.

While some may feel that spending money for water is a waste of money, I believe that staying well is the result of the cumulative effort I make to avoid ingesting foods that can make me sick. There’s not much I can do about the air I breathe, but I can choose to drink water with the least amount of pollutants or toxins.

 

Pattie Cinelli is a health/fitness professional who offers information about subjects on the leading edge of health and fitness thought. She has been writing her column for more than 25 years and welcomes column suggestions and fitness questions.

Pattie is a certified functional aging specialist who works with baby boomers. She also can provide lectures, private sessions and group classes in stretch, yoga, Pilates and her specialty: Balance and Mobility, for your church, home or office. She is also producing a podcast that highlights choices we have in addition to traditional western medicine that help us stay well. You can contact Pattie at: fitmiss44@aol.com.