Saturday, February 6, 2010

What is the best drinking water?

People often ask what type of water filter or purifier I recommend.   Over the years I have tried to find the ‘perfect’ water and  I  have come to the following conclusions: 

1.      It is definitely worth the small extra expense and effort to get high quality water 

2.      Most Americans live in a mildly dehydrated state. Keep well hydrated and never drink tap water.   Water helps  prevent fine skin wrinkles, headaches, arthritis, blood pressure, heartburn, asthma,  improves memory and promotes weight loss  and proper thyroid function.  For hydration, water should be your main stay.  Not juice, coffee, tea, milk and certainly not soda.   Drink 2-3 liters of quality water daily. 

3.      Water should: 

·        Taste great - if you drink water and get used to quality water, you can really tell the difference in waters.  Remember that great tasting water makes it easy to avoid  less healthful choices 
·         Contains essential minerals
·         Be Alkaline – have a pH greater than 7.0
·         Be free of chlorine, fluoride and other toxins
·         Be affordable


I would generally avoid the following:

·         Bottled water.   Specifically bottled water in plastic  containers.   Many estrogenic plasticizers like Bisphenol A are present in plastic (this can lower sperm production).  In addition to the concerns regarding plastic, many independent studies have shown bottled drinking water may contain contaminants.
·         Distillation: While it is pure and free of impurities, I no longer recommend distilled or reverse osmosis water as your main source of drinking water. Distilled water lacks key minerals.  These minerals serve as a buffer to prevent water from becoming acidic when CO2 is absorbed from the air.  In addition, distillation uses quite a bit of electricity, tastes flat and has a slow rate of production.  One also has to clean the unit as it builds up deposits. 
·         Reverse Osmosis:  RO has some positives such as removing pathogenic organisms and chemicals such as chlorine & fluoride. However, like distilled water, the pH is slightly acidic and RO water lacks minerals.  Drinking this type of water results in a net loss of minerals from our body.  The loss of minerals increases bone loss and may result in osteoporosis.   Generally avoid RO water.  Occasional use is fine.
·         Water softeners are fine for decreasing mineral deposits to protect water heaters, plumbing and decrease the “scum” deposits.  I would not recommend using softened water for drinking due to the abnormally high amounts of sodium or potassium (depending on the type of unit).  Softened water also lacks calcium and magnesium. 

I recommend the following types of water/technologies:

·         Ultrafiltration with mechanical filters: typically 0.5-4 micron pores remove suspended sediment, sand, rust, and the 0.5-micron remove most microorganisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.  They do not filter viruses and do not remove chemicals.  They often come combined with filters that can remove chemicals and kill viruses.
·         Activated Carbon: taste is good, affordable and fast.
·         Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF-55) uses redox (oxidation/reduction) to remove chlorine, lead, mercury, iron, and hydrogen sulfide from water supplies. KDF filters are used most often with an activated carbon filter. They prolong the life and increase the effectiveness of carbon filters by reducing chlorine build-up & heavy metals.
·         Spring water if it comes in glass
·         Ionized alkaline water
·         UV light – used to kill organisms
·         Iodinated resins

Specific Brand/Model Recommendations:
The American Environmental Health Foundation (AEHF) was founded in 1975 by William J. Rea, M.D. of the Environmental Health Center - Dallas.   I have had the privilege of getting to know Dr. Rea through the Pan American Allergy Society.   The AEHF offers several excellent products that are reasonably priced:
·         Doulton Counter-top stainless steel ceramic countertop unit http://www.aehf.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=33_168
·         AEHF Whole-house Water Filter with Prefilter http://www.aehf.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=33_168&products_id=1167
·         See all his water filters at: http://www.aehf.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=33_168
·         Additional products: www.aehf.com

My other recommendations include:
·         The Ionizer Plus™ Water Electrolyzer   www.hightechhealth.com (see the comments below regarding alkaline water)
·         Berkey filters – the stainless steel models www.berkeyfilters.com
·         Pentapure Products - http://www.tealbrook.com/Products.html - they have some nice units for overseas travel as well as for use in the U.S.  They offer discounts to non-profit organizations
·         Mountain Valley Spring Water - delivered in glass www.amacwater.com 

For more information about the dangers of chlorine, I recommend you read my previous article http://naturalwellnesschoices.blogspot.com/2007/10/dangers-of-chlorine.html.
Since we take in as much or more chemicals from showering as we do from drinking water I would urge you to avoid bathing in unfiltered water.  AEHF.com carries inexpensive shower filters.  The whole house unit (listed above) would take care of the whole house. 

Alkalinity (pH) - Does it Matter?
Drinking alkaline-ion water has been claimed to improve:
  • Absorbing nutrients
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Migraines
  • Psoriasis
  • Indigestion
  • Acidic body chemistry
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Poor circulation
  • Arthritis
  • Leg cramps
  • Better athletic performance
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
Are these claims accurate? I need more research in English before I can say anything dogmatically.  Most of the research is in Japanese or Korean.  I do like the fact that alkaline water is:
1.      Rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium – thereby slowing bone loss
2.      Has an antioxidant effect
3.      Forms smaller molecular clusters than tap water (as determined by NMR – nuclear magnetic resonance). This may improve hydration at the cellular level
How to create alkaline water? 
A water ionizer separates water into alkaline and acid fractions using electrolysis.  It does this by exploiting the electric charge of the calcium, potassium, magnesium ions which are present in tap water.  Note that without these minerals, ionization does not work.  Ionization has no effect on distilled water or water filtered by reverse osmosis.  Ionizers also do not work with water that has been “softened” because softened water lacks magnesium and calcium.
One study cited in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (Volume 234, Issue 1, 8 May 1997, Pages 269-274) showed that electrolyzed–reduced water scavenges active oxygen and protects DNA from oxidative damage.   Alkaline water helps neutralize free radicals.  Less free radicals means less damage to our body (K. Hanaoka, D. Sun, R. Lawrence, Y. Kamitani, G. Fernandez, The mechanism of the enhanced antioxidant effects against superoxide anion radicals of reduced water produced by electrolysis, Biophys Chem. 2004 Dan 1;107(1):71-82).

Dr. Sherry Rogers (author of “Detoxify or Die”) recommends alkaline ionized water. Specifically she recommends the unit  carried by High Tech Health www.hightechhealth.com.  I have this unit and have been pleased with it.

In addition to using ionized water, we also use a whole house unit, a Berkey water filter and Mountain Valley Spring Water.   Is this too much?   When you consider the importance of water and the dangers of tap water, I do not think so.   We save money by staying healthy and we do not waste money on soft drinks, juices or milk.   It is amazing how easy it is to get children to drink water when it tastes good and there are no alternatives!