Although water appears to be a very simple element — H20 — a lot of confusion and hype exists in the field of natural health when it comes to what kind of water to drink.
For example, you may at some point ask yourself:
- How much water do I really need?
- What is the best kind of water to drink?
- Is distilled water good or bad for me?
- Should I be worried about the quality of tap water?
- Do I need “living” water?
- Do I need an expensive ionizer?
- What is the best purification method?
There is so much confusion about water, but more importantly, so much bad science out there. Based on recent discussions that recently surfaced on the Internet about water products, I present to you in this post accurately researched information that will hopefully make it much easier and cost-effective to get water, in the right amounts, in your body.
Minerals in Water
“Can minerals in water actually be assimilated by the human body or are they better assimilated when they come from food sources?
It’s much better to obtain minerals from our food instead of from our water. But that doesn’t mean that getting minerals from water won’t be absorbed by the body. It just won’t be very effective and most will be lost. That’s why so many supplements are a waste of time.
Most minerals are best absorbed when attached to some sort of protein molecule. This has to do with the stomach lining. It’s just best suited for proper absorption in that form. Calcium in water is a salt, which means that it has a positive ion and a negative ion. You can absorb it to a degree but when we are talking about efficiency, it’s better when it’s attached to other molecules.
So overall, you can absorb only a tiny amount of the minerals in the water you drink, so it’s better to plan getting them from food instead!
The Difference Between “Organic” and Non- Organic Minerals
I heard many times from raw-food circles that only minerals in plants can be assimilated by the human body. Rock minerals or minerals in water are not assimilable.
In some Natural Hygiene books, minerals from plants are called “organic” minerals and those from rocks are called “non-organic”.
Some people have even claimed that the cooking process turns organic minerals into toxic, non-organic ones.
I did some research for people who are interested in this topic, so this next section is going to be a bit technical.
I apologize about that but if you want the quick answer: minerals in plants are best but we can still assimilate a tiny amount of minerals found in water and other sources.
Here’s the longer answer:
How well a mineral ion is absorbed in the body depends on the environment it is in.
The stomach acids break everything down while the intestines reduce the acidity so that it can better absorb what was eaten.
So in doing so, additional anions, (negatively charged ions that the body produces) may bind with the mineral ions that you ate. So while you need iron in your diet, sucking on an iron bar is likely not going to help you.
In your body, iron is surrounded by the heme molecule. Many of the trace minerals in your body have some sort of protein molecule attached to it. This prevents the mineral ion from reacting with the alkaline chemicals your body produces. In many cases these protein molecules effectively surrounds these metal ions.
It helps with better absorption because some of these molecules can easily attach itself to the intestine. This doesn’t mean that non-organic is mineral useless. It just means that once ingested, it has to “compete” with the chemicals that the body produces for proper absorption, with other mineral ions, and bind with protein molecules to attach to the intestine to be absorbed.
Plant sources already have the minerals attached to these biomolecules and hence are better absorbed.
Alkaline Water Scams
Can you explain why the PH of water is not of concern to human health?
Can you comment on companies selling machines to make “alkaline
A lot of people imagine that we have to worry about the PH of our water.
What they don’t realize is that even in nature, the PH of water will vary from one type of water to the next.
pH of pure water is always 7.0, i.e it is neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline.
When certain minerals (also called salts) are dissolved in water, its pH may vary and it may become acidic or basic according to the properties of the minerals dissolved.
In the body, when we consume water, along with its minerals, food and other components, they all reach the stomach.
The gastric juices are highly acidic and all the food exiting the stomach into the intestine is highly acidic. Bile neutralizes these acids and makes the food alkaline.
Thus, when water and food passes through the stomach it will always be acidic and in the intestines it will always be alkaline irrespective of the original pH of our diet.
Urine is the only body fluid that can have its acidity changed by food or supplements.The rest of the body PH cannot be changed
by anything you eat or drink.
The machines claiming to sell alkaline water use pseudoscientific hype with use of some technical terms to support claims that cannot be substantiated medically or scientifically.
It is just a very expensive way of consuming calcium tablets!
Most people who have spent a lot of money on such machines and believe it has had a positive effect on their lives are probably going through a placebo effect, which means if you think something is going to make you better, it probably will.
It is an established medical phenomenon and it is observed in about 40% people taking placebo medication in drug trials.
There is some supporting research that alkalized water is beneficial and is used by the food industry to wash fruits and vegetables to remove and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
But once it is ingested, any alkalinity is neutralized by the acids. There is no evidence that drinking or ingesting alkalized water is beneficial to human health.
So the machine may be good to wash your fruits and vegetable in. While it is not beneficial it is also not harmful but I think there are better things to spend money on.
“Can you comment on water ionizers and their alleged health benefits?”
There are no reported health benefits to water ionizers. I think the main attraction is the free radical scavenging properties and because it has been effective against bacteria and viruses in washing fruits and vegetables.
But when ingested, the body will “seek” to bring it to the pH it needs for its own purposes. So it won’t alkalize the body of the blood.
In the studies I have read, some of the papers are interesting. The Ionizers are effective disinfectants. But using them for that purpose is very expensive.
Distilled Water and Health
“I heard that drinking distilled water can leech minerals from your body. Is this true?”
A lot of people believe distilled water to be dangerous based on information read on the Internet or other Natural Health book. In fact, here’s what Dr. Mercola has to say about this:
“Many health fanatics, however, are often surprised to hear me say that drinking distilled water on a regular, daily basis is potentially dangerous.
Paavo Airola wrote about the dangers of distilled water in the 1970’s when it first became a fad with the health food crowd.
Distillation is the process in which water is boiled, evaporated and the vapor condensed. Distilled water is free of dissolved minerals and, because of this, has the special property of being able to actively absorb toxic substances from the body and eliminate them.
Studies validate the benefits of drinking distilled water when one is seeking to cleanse or detoxify the system for short periods of time (a few weeks at a time).
Fasting using distilled water can be dangerous because of the rapid loss of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) and trace minerals like magnesium, deficiencies of which can cause heart beat irregularities and high blood pressure. Cooking foods in distilled water pulls the minerals out of them and lowers their nutrient value.”
At this point, I will agree with the conclusion that distilled water is not the best kind of water to drink, but will also point out that a lot of what Dr. Mercola said in his article (which you can find at: http://www.mercola.com/article/water/distilled_water.htm) is completely wrong.
Water, whether it is found in a spring or the tap, contains trace elements and minerals.
If the water is distilled, in that it is devoid of all minerals, it will draw from its stores, what it needs for biological processes (for example: the calcium in your bones).
So calcium in your bones, the biggest mineral store will be used.
Distilled water is used to remove toxins from the body. It is what is used in kidney dialysis machines to cleanse the blood of toxins. It can also reduce potassium which is needed for proper heart function. Same with magnesium.
Distilled water can and does remove minerals from the body.
But fortunately, I don’t think there’s any evidence that this would be very dramatic — as long as you get enough minerals from your food in order to offset this.
In one article on Dr. Mercola’s website, it was claimed that: “There is a correlation between the consumption of soft water (distilled water is extremely soft) and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Cells, tissues and organs do not like to be dipped in acid and will do anything to buffer this acidity including the removal of minerals from the skeleton and the manufacture of bicarbonate in the blood.”
Here, Mercola is dead wrong on the issue!
Distilled water is neither acidic nor alkaline! What happens is that the body removes it from various parts of the body to use the minerals it needs for biological function.
It’s not like acid is streaming through the body and dissolving your bones!
Overall, I think that drinking water that has some mineral ions in it is best, but I don’t think that drinking distilled water can be bad for health if you get minerals from other sources, such as a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Mercola Continues:
“Those who supplement their distilled water intake with trace minerals are not as deficient but still not as adequately nourished in minerals as their non-distilled water drinking counterparts even after several years of mineral supplementation. The ideal water for the human body should be slightly alkaline and this requires the presence of minerals like calcium and magnesium”
There is no study, as far as I know, that shows that people drinking distilled water aren’t as adequately nourished as their non-distilled counterparts.
There will be too many factors to take into account.
I guess he is correct that the presence of the minerals will make the water slightly alkaline but drawing the conclusion of alkaline “good” and acidic “bad” is hardly scientific!
Question of the day: what kind of water do you drink and why?