What Water Should I Drink for Optimum Health

There is a substantive debate about what type of water is healthiest to drink, with some professionals advocating the use of spring water while others suggest distilled. Those are diverse extremes, with spring water containing an array minerals and distilled water being void of minerals. Still others are selling alkaline ionizers and making claims that these prevent cancer. I’ll believe that when I watch it on CBS News. So, who are you to believe and what system should you buy?

I learned long ago that when highly educated people disagree to such an extent that the truth lies somewhere in between.

It is my personal preference to drink water with minerals, like the water that a spring or river provides. I say this because this is what we have been drinking, as humans living on the planet, since the beginning of our history. So in my view, this is what the body is adapted to.

But in the early times of man river water was not polluted. Today it can be.

And so I have come to conclude that what system provides you with the healthiest water depends on what is in your water to begin with.

For instance, if you are drinking Potomac River water there is no question that I will recommend reverse osmosis. The same is true for many of our nation’s great rivers….because they are grossly contaminated with stuff that will kill you – even in small doses. Any time there are cities, and thus sewage treatment plants, upstream of you – then your water source will contain a wide array of dangerous chemicals. These are not currently regulated by USEPA and have only recently been recognized as dangerous.

Many people suggest that reverse osmosis water is ‘dead’ and that you should avoid it. This is nonsense. There’s no such thing as dead water. In many case, reverse osmosis will provide you with the healthiest water possible. Water produced by reverse osmosis will not contain naturally occurring minerals, but it also won’t contain the pharmaceuticals and other chemicals present in many of our public water sources.

If you have a relatively clean source of water then a product such as my Kitchen Defender, with multiple filters targeting specific contaminants is ideal. Water produced by the Kitchen Defender will still contain minerals but chlorine, chlorine byproducts, herbicides and pesticides will be removed. This type of filter system is my preferred recommendation, if the characteristics of your water allow it.

In addition to unregulated pharmaceuticals, factors that can lead me to recommend reverse osmosis include high total dissolved solids (above 250 ppm), nitrates (above 3 ppm), or radioactive metals. Occasionally one specific contaminant, such as arsenic or other metals, may require reverse osmosis.

Some health practitioners recommend distillation specifically because it does remove minerals. They base this recommendation on the fact that water with no mineral content will more readily penetrate the cell membranes, thus, in theory, providing greater hydration. This is a proven and natural tendency of water to move from areas of low density to higher densities, otherwise known as osmosis.

Other people suggest spring water as the optimum drinking water source. Numerous studies overseas, paid for by the World Health Organization, show a strong correlation between water with minerals and lower rates of disease. While I tend to agree with this recommendation (drinking water with minerals) it is not possible for everyone to have such a source, or there may be pollutants that compromise the source.

Contradicting those who recommend water with minerals are those people who suggest that inorganic minerals can’t be used by the body and so drinking water with minerals is pointless. Some of the proponents of eating raw foods fall down on the side of eliminating minerals from drinking water, even suggesting that these may lead to premature calcification and thus contribute to aging.

Many cities use wells and pump groundwater as a water source and of course everyone with their own well will be using groundwater. This source can be of very high quality or it can be contaminated by the activities on the ground above the well. Well water typically spends more time in contact with the minerals, rocks, and soils in that ground. I look for high total dissolved solids and contaminants such as nitrates and various metals when determining what system to use for treatment.

Springs themselves can be considered to be groundwater. The content of spring water varies widely and will depend on the nature of the soils or ground they come from and the length of time the water has been in the ground. Springs are generally the starting point for rivers and so at the headwaters at least the two will be very similar.

As I hope that you can see from this discussion, the debate is extremely complex and there are experts that support every type of water as the best for health. I’ve provided you with a brief overview in order to limit further confusion.

In short, water treatment for your home or at the kitchen sink is about working with what you have and making the best of it. Most public water supplies and private wells produce water that can be made to be healthy with the appropriate treatment system. Water purification and the water purification system that provides you with the healthiest water is most often a compromise based on what you have to do to address the contaminants in your water.

To learn what type of water purification system will provide you with the healthiest possible water I recommend that you first look at your water report and then buy the system that deals effectively with the contaminants present in your water.

If you are on a public water source such as a town or water company they are required to test the water and provide you with a water quality report. If you’re on a private well you’ll have to test the water yourself. And if you can’t make any sense out of your water report, don’t fret. Call me and we’ll review it together. I provide a free ½ hour consultation in which we review your water report together. I work from 9 AM to 6 PM Mountain Time: 866-691-4214. To learn more about working with me visit Sweetwater’s Home Water Purification Systems.

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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
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