Michael Lam, MD, MPH
There is no question that a proper amount of water consumption will detoxify your body and add years to your life. Studies have shown that those drinking at least five glasses of water per day were associated with an approximately 50% decreased rate of heart attacks and stroke, compared with those who drank only two glasses of water per day.
Knowing what is in the water is also an important part of an anti-aging program.
Kinds of Water
A. Distilled Water
Distilled Water is water that has been vaporized and recondensed. If fractional distillation is used, all minerals and chemicals are removed. Removal of all dissolved solids in the water also removes any taste. Distilled water is the ultimate soft water.
B. Pure Liquid Water
This term is often used commercially to denote water in its purest form (distilled water). There is really no such thing as "pure liquid water."
C. Tap Water (Public or Drinking water)
Tap Water is water from a municipal or county water system that has been treated and disinfected.
D. Fluoridated Water
Fluoridated Water is water that has been treated in water plants so as to contain at least 0.8 mg but no more than 4 mg of fluoride per liter.
E. Mineral Water
While mineral waters typically contain at least 500 ppm (parts per million) of minerals, the term "mineral water" has no legal significance. The minerals present give water a distinctive flavor and many are high in sodium. It should be noted the Environmental Protection Agency only allows up to 500 ppm of minerals for drinking Water. Some mineral waters contain up to 2,000 ppms.
F. Natural Water
Natural Water is water obtained from a spring or well that is certified to be safe and sanitary.
G. Hard Water
Hard Water is water with a high calcium and magnesium concentration. Most water found in nature is hard water.
H. Soft Water
Soft Water is water with a low calcium and magnesium concentration. Typically, this is water that has been processed through a softener unit, using sodium or potassium chloride as a base in an ionic exchange filter. If the water was already soft to begin with and is quasi 100% softened, the water may still have relatively low sodium content. It is also important to remember that water with a high sodium concentration may also be quite hard.
Most water softeners are sodium based (sodium chloride). Some are potassium based. Soft water is good for washing cloths and for bathing purposes. Long-term consumption can lead to excessive sodium or potassium, depending on the kind of softener.
I. Spring Water
Spring Water is water originating from a spring or well and must have a direct connection to a spring). It may be carbonated or not ("flat" or "still"). Brand names such as "Spring Pure" do not necessarily mean that the water comes from a spring.
J. Boiled Water
Boiling water kills the bacteria in raw water (if it is boiled for at least 20 minutes). But, the remains of these germs are carried into our body when the water is consumed. These dead germs furnish media for rapid and lusty propagation of germs already in the body. Boiling water does not remove any inorganic minerals or chemicals such as chlorine or fluoride. On the contrary, this process concentrates certain toxic metals.
K. Rain Water
The heat of the sun naturally distills rainwater. But it becomes contaminated as it falls through air filled with bacteria, dust, smoke, chemicals, and minerals. By the time it reaches the earth as rainwater, it is so saturated with decaying matter, dirt, and chemicals that its color becomes a yellowish-white. Snow is even dirtier. Neither should be consumed.
L. Swimming Pool Water
Properly maintained pools with adequate water circulation, filtration, and disinfection do not usually represent a hazard to bathers even when consumed in small quantities. If the main water supply becomes contaminated, the risk to pool users is minimal because parasites do not multiply in water.
M. Acidic Water
This is water that has a pH of 5.8 - 6.9. This is often formed either by distilled water coming in contact with air, or by special ionizing machines to make water acidic. Acidic water is good for external use and industrial purposes, but not for long-term human consumption. Acidic water is full of hydrogen ions. It is good for plant growth, crops, and livestock in that it will help keep a much lower mortality rate and cleaner environment, keeping in mind the acidic water retards bacteria and bacterial growth. It also kills bacteria on contact; helps heal cuts, blisters, scraps, or rashes; and provides excellent relief from mosquito bites. Once taken internally, it attracts minerals from our body. Drinking acidic water short term (less than 4 weeks) is good for body cleansing and detoxification. Long-term intake invariably leads to mineral deficiencies.
N. Alkaline Water
This is water that has a pH of more than 7.4 (often close to 7.6 to 7.8). Alkaline water can be the result of reverse osmosis or by special ionizing machines to make the water alkaline. Slightly alkaline water is best for consumption. Hydroxyl Ions (oxygen molecule with an extra electron) inside alkaline water donates its extra electrons to free radicals and is therefore a liquid antioxidant. Alkaline water also balances the body pH that is often acidic, especially among the sick. Our diet is often extremely acidic. Soft drinks, fast foods, and processed foods deposit acid waste in our bodies that build up over time and create an ideal environment for diseases and cancer cells to thrive. The accumulation of acidic byproducts in the body is believed to be a rapid accelerator of aging according to many researchers. Maintaining an alkaline pH (7.6 - 8.0) helps us to maintain an environment in our bodies that is NOT conducive to disease. After consumption, the antioxidant properties generally last approximately 18 - 24 hours, and the alkaline properties will last approximately 1 - 2 weeks.
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for approximately 90 contaminants in drinking water.
Contaminants are divided into six categories:
Microbes include coliform bacteria, E. Coli, cryptosporidium, and Giardia lambia. Most people think of turbid water as contaminated water. Turbidity has no health effects. However, turbidity can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms. These organisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.
Certain minerals are radioactive and may emit radiation known as alpha radiation, photons, and beta radiation. Drinking such water in excess of EPA's standard over many years may have an increased risk of developing cancer.
C. Inorganic Contaminants
Arsenic in excess of EPA's standard over many years could result in skin damage or problems with the circulatory system, and may be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.
Fluoride in excess of EPA standards of 4 mg/l can lead to dental fluorosis. In its moderate or severe forms, fluorisis may result in a brown staining and/or pitting of the permanent teeth. This problem occurs only in developing teeth, before they erupt from the gums. Children under nine should not drink water that has more than 2 mg/L of fluoride.
Lead typically leaches into water from plumbing in older buildings. Lead pipes and plumbing fittings have been banned since August 1998. Children and pregnant women are most susceptible to lead health risks. Other inorganic contaminants include asbestos, cadmium, copper, and mercury.
Some people who use drinking water containing chlorine well in excess of the EPA's standard could experience irritating effects to their eyes and nose. Some infants and young children who drink water containing chlorine dioxide in excess of the EPA's standard could experience nervous system effects. Similar effects may occur in fetuses of pregnant women who drink water containing chlorine dioxide in excess of the EPA's standard.
E. Disinfection Byproducts
People who drink water containing trihalomethanes (THM) in excess of the EPA's standard over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous systems, and may have an increased risk of developing cancer.
F. Commercial Additions to Water
There is a list of hazardous sweeteners, dyes, artificial flavors, and chemicals used for "fiz," etc., that compose colas and other artificial carbonated beverages popular among both adults and children. These chemicals are much more dangerous than the inorganic minerals in tap water. Toxic dyes include several aniline dyes, usually listed on the ingredient label as "artificial coloring," such as Amaranth (red), Bordeaux (brown), RED I (yellow) and Ponceau (scarlet). Combining sugar, molasses or glucose with ammonia, and heating to more than 350 degrees will yield caramel, a common ingredient in soft drinks. Excessive use of caramel is harmful to the body. Sugar is one of the most harmful ingredients used in the manufacturing of soft drinks. Sugar causes irritation and weakening of the mucous membranes of the body and robs teeth, bones, and blood of a great percentage of their minerals.
What Kind of Water Should You Use?
Different kinds of water are appropriate for different purposes. When dehydrated, any drinkable water is better than no water at all. When you want optimum health, choosing the right kind of water is important.
For optimal anti-aging health, we've listed the kinds of water you should be drinking, from the best to the worst:
- The Best: Pure Filtered Water
- Second Best: Bottled Water
- Use Sparingly: Distilled Water
- Avoid: Tap Water