Water is amazing.
That’s pretty common knowledge, but despite its versatility and universal appeal, most of us aren’t drinking nearly enough of it.
But even the purest of refreshments, delivered to us in its most elemental form can pose a risk to our health. (Just when you thought I couldn’t scrutinize another seemingly safe component of a healthy diet, here I go ranting about water.)
But stay with me! If you’re at all conscious of your health, you’re likely gulping down a few glass-fulls of the stuff every day, so it’s probably a topic worth turning your attention towards. You may hold a different opinion than me, but if you’re willing to give up a few minutes of your day, I’ll tell you a few reasons why I avoid drinking tap water.
Wait, hold up. Im’a let you finish, but the US has one of the best water systems of all time…
Having just celebrated the birth of my country, I feel an especially strong sense of gratitude for all of the luxuries we as Americans tend to take for granted. Access to safe, clean water is one gift that I will never fully understand the magnitude of. You turn it on, and it’s there.
The United States has one of the best water systems in the world, and luckily for me, the clever folks in charge of things have developed a pretty reliable solution to one of the longest standing challenges in human civilization.
Getting that water from murky brown to squeaky clean and bacteria free requires a complicated set of steps, one of those being the addition of chlorine.
Chlorinated Water Linked to Increase in Cancer Rates
While I certainly don’t want cholera, dysentery, or typhoid swimming around in my glass of H2O, drinking chlorine doesn’t sound so appealing, either. Chlorine is added to about 3/4 of the water supply in the US as a disinfectant –and it has surely saved many lives along the way. Chlorinated drinking water has also been found by researchers at Harvard University to increase the rates of rectal and bladder cancer. It is estimated to account for 6,500 cases of rectal cancer and 4,200 cases of bladder cancer each year. (source)
Chlorine is powerful. Knowing that it is strong enough to kill bacteria and other potentially infectious life forms in water is enough proof that I should avoid ingesting it whenever I can.
I am a life form, after all.
Water Fluoridation Linked to Higher Rates of Underactive Thyroid
Fluoride use is a heavily debated topic, but I personally find it ironic that we are so adamant about adding it to our drinking supply in order to improve dental health, while we continually feed our children (and ourselves) gargantuan quantities of sugar. To me, it reflects the Western tendency to overlook the logical solutions that may get in the way of our immediate pleasure. Change our diets? No thanks, just give us a pill, please (or a glass of fluoride spiked water, in this case).
I love a mouthful of healthy chompers just as much as the next smiler, but I value the health of my thyroid more. A British study has recently linked fluoridated water consumption with a rise in the incidence of underactive thyroid. High rates of hypothyroidism were at least 30% more likely in areas with fluoride levels in excess of .3mg/l. Studies have also shown that ingesting fluoride may contribute to iodine deficiency, which can in turn have a negative effect on the thyroid. (source)
I personally care a great deal about protecting my thyroid for my own personal health situation, but the role of this gland on overall health and wellbeing is too expansive to even touch on in this blog post. It will suffice to say that every cell in the human body depends on thyroid hormones for healthy function.
Fluoride also accumulates in your bones, making them brittle and more easily fractured, and in your pineal gland, which may inhibit the production of the hormone melatonin. (source)
Please, don’t run to Costco and purchase a doomsday prepper quantity of bottled water now that you’ve read this post. Bottled water can actually contain some of these same additives, and it has an obscenely negative impact on the environment. There are 50 billion water bottles consumed each year, about 30 billion of them in the US. (source)
Brita improves water’s taste, not its purity
While Brita and similar filters do improve the taste of water, they are not intended to effectively purify it. They won’t remove chlorine or fluoride, and they’re not certified to deal with lead, pesticide residues, pharmaceutical residues, bacteria, viruses, or anything health-related other than mercury, copper, and cadmium.
So what’s a thirsty health seeker to do?
Many health food stores provide a water filling station where shoppers can fill their own reusable containers with reverse osmosis filtered water. The process of filtering water through reverse osmosis is a complex and surprisingly dry topic (← you see what I did there? ☺) so I won’t go into too many details.
But in this case, science is awesome, and allows us to remove chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, and pretty much everything except the H’s and O’s that we really want to be guzzling down.
I have a 5 gallon BPA free water container that I fill at Whole Foods or Earth Fare once or twice a week for less than $2. I may need the assistance of my hulky husband to lift it to the top of my fridge where it lives, but once it’s there, it dispenses pure, worry-free water that we drink until our healthy hearts (and thyroids) are content.
You can find the water dispenser I use Here.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.