Water is the most basic necessity of life, but sometimes we take it for granted.
The most obvious example of this is the water that comes out of the tap. We usually don’t think twice about whether it’s pure and safe, we simply assume it is.
I’m going to recommend you question that assumption in a moment, and also give you the tools to easily test it for yourself, at least if you live in the U.S. I’ll also offer suggestions if you don’t.
But first, here is a few of the crucial roles water plays in our health. You might be surprised by some the things on this list:
- Drinking sufficient water may help prevent hangovers (sorry, had to get in a New Year’s reference).
- Chronic dehydration can lead to hypertension, kidney stones, the build-up of toxins in the body.
- Because they are composed of a high percentage of water, cartilage (joints) and muscles need to have sufficient water to function normally.
- Sufficient water intake can alleviate a wide variety of health issues, including obesity (due to increasing thermogenesis), psoriasis, and even fatigue (a symptom of dehydration).
- Drinking enough water can reduce the risk of bladder and colon cancer.
All of these are in addition to the basic fact that all the fluids in our body require water to move freely. And when fluids move freely everything else works better.
Back to the idea of safe tap water.
Given how crucial pure, uncontaminated water is for a healthy life, you may have assumed that there are laws, or at least rules guaranteeing safe water in our homes. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done extensive research on the safety of our tap water. The results aren’t very encouraging. If we interpret the findings closely, it becomes apparent that decisions about water safety are mostly a compromise between cost-cutting and what is referred to as “acceptable risk.”
Basically acceptable risk means it won’t outright kill someone right away. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s healthy.
Sources of water contamination are everywhere. Ground runoff of fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants lead to more than 600 toxic chemicals being potentially present in our water. And normal water processing not only doesn’t eliminate all of these, it actually adds chemicals to the water (chlorine and related substances) that combine with these chemicals to form additional deadly byproducts.
Of the 600+ toxins that can end up in water, only 11 are regulated by the government. Feel safer yet?
And, although bottled water may be a better choice, you have no way of knowing for sure how pure it is or even where it came from.
Hopefully you can see why it makes sense to filter your tap water.
If you live in the U.S. and want to check your city’s water quality, you can use the EWG “What’s In Your Water” research site. You can go to that site by clicking here.
If you are on a well, or live outside the U.S., you’ll want to get your water tested by a certified laboratory.
After testing, if you want to filter your water, there are lots of choices available. Anything will be better than nothing, and even simple carbon filter will help. For the purest, most highly filtered water, consider a reverse osmosis system for your drinking and cooking water.
My favorite brand of this comes from FreeDrinkingWater.com. This is the one we use in our home. As a point of full disclosure, this link is not an affiliate link and I don’t get any compensation for recommending them. However, if you do buy a filter system from them and mention my name, they’ll send me a set of replacement filters.
You can mention my name or not as you prefer. Either way you’ll pay the same amount, which is $299 for their 5-stage, reverse osmosis system.
As a small aside, when we ordered our system from them, it came with a small particulate meter. Since we’d previously been using a counter-top carbon filter, we set aside some water from it and did a comparison with the water once we’d set up the reverse osmosis system.
The water from the counter-top filter measured a respectable 48 ppm (parts per million) of particulate matter when tested. That’s pretty good. However when we tested the reverse osmosis filtered water, it tested at 1 ppm. In other words, 48 times better.
Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.
Truckee Meadows Water Authority Water Report – use this link to see your water quality if you live in the Reno area.
EWG “What’s In Your Water” Research Page – use this link to find out your water quality if you live in the U.S. but outside the Reno area.
Boschmann, M., et al. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 88(12):6015-6019, 2003.
Michaud, D. S., et al. Fluid intake and the risk of bladder cancer in men. New England Journal of Medicine. 340(18):1390-1397, 1999.
Blechman, S., et al. Drinking water helps prevent colon cancer. Muscular Development. 37(2):46, 2000.