Do We Really Need to Filter Our Water?
When it comes to reaching our best health and wellness, we already know the importance of clean eating and getting in daily movement.
Many of us take it a step further by choosing local and organic produce, over the conventionally raised and chemically sprayed stuff - and lastly we may put forth an effort to decrease our household waste, save energy, eliminate single-use plastics, and even switch to natural personal care and cleaning products.
But is there a step that you’re still missing?
The Forgotten Nutrient
Let’s take a quick nutrition quiz. It will just take a moment. I want you to think about what your essential nutrients are. What nutrients do you need to include to ensure you can thrive and be vibrant? Now i’m going to practice my mind reading abilities.
Some of you may think of macro-nutrients: carbs, fats and proteins, as these are our core essential nutrients.
A select bunch of you may be betting on essential vitamins and minerals
My real nutrition geeks are likely envisioning phytonutrients and omega fatty acids.
However the forgotten nutrient that plays an essential role in reaching our best health doesn’t come specifically from food. Rather, the essential we need to level-up on our health journey is water.
While water is not considered as being an 'adequate source of nutrients', since being energy-free in the terms of calories. Your body's need for H20 is actually higher than its need for food. Your body can survive for over one-month without food, but only a mere 3-5 days without water.
It’s probably also good for you to know that your body is comprised of over 70% water, this is going to help us better understand why hydration should not be taken lightly. Of your total body weight, between 40 and 60 lbs is coming from your inner ocean. Now, how many of us are feeling the flowing ocean vibes and how many feel like a struggling stream in a hot summer drought.
Even just talking about water tends to trigger your thirst, because your intuitive self knows just how essential hydration is.
Let’s pause for a hydration break before we get into the good stuff.
Newsflash: If you’re feeling thirsty right now:
You’re already under-hydrated.
Thank me later. Drink up!
Why Water is Essential
Water is a major constituent in your blood, supporting the transport of oxygen, nutrients, electrolytes and hormones. It’s also a player in system detoxification - water is imperative for keeping things moving while also flushing out toxins and waste.
Despite the human bodies ever-growing need for water, you'd think we would function more like a camel. Instead, many of us silently struggle to maintain a healthy hydration level, as a significant amount of water is lost each day.
In order for your body to function, you need at least 8-12 cups (2-3 litres) each day - and this is just for basic function - if you’re exercising, or looking to improve your health, and support healthy detoxification - you’re going to need much, much more.
But water is for more than just drinking to keep you hydrated and functioning, you’re also using it to cook and clean yourself and your house with.
So drinking water is essential, but i’ve got a question.
How ‘Clean’ Is Your Water?
If you don’t know the answer to that, your steps towards proper hydration may be doing more harm than good… In the case of tap water, quality is going to vary from city-to-city (and country-to-country) but what I want you to remember is:
Just because tap water is treated for our safety, does not mean tap water should be considered as ‘clean’.
(Don’t worry, I will expand on this).
What about bottled water? More bad news: brands like Nestlé (Pure Life), PepsiCo(Aquafina), Coca Cola (Dasani/SmartWater) and Fiji do not really care about your health or hydration level, they’re just profiting off the fact that humans need water to survive. I should also mention that more than 50% of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle, sometimes further treated, sometimes not.
Also, most of this water that mega-corporations are selling is obtained from public water sources for next to nothing. In Canada, many provinces now require bottlers to obtain permits to extract this water, but they charge very little for the privilege (in some cases, a corporation can pay just $3.71 for every million litres). Until recently, British Columbia did not regulate the use of industrial groundwater and they allowed Nestlé to extract millions of litres a year from a well in Hope, British Columbia - for free - and then charge us for it! .
Should I Be Drinking Tap Water?
Well, you shouldn't be paying a ridiculous markup for a bottle of tap water that further explodes the pockets of mega corporations, while they steal water from our planet for next to nothing.
Bottled water is definitely worse than tap water, especially when you add the pollution factor to the equation… Globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute, and of this - 91% is not properly recycled .
If you do properly recycle, you shouldn’t suddenly feel good about your plastic consumption. Even when plastic bottles are properly recycled, making new plastic is cheaper than using recycled materials. So purchasing plastics and recycling them doesn’t zero out your consumption, it’s no a perfect cycle like the recycling logo shows. When you purchase plastic, you’re fueling the production of more plastic, which is made with fossil fuels, and is a product of the oil and gas industry - the most polluting industry in our world.
So what now? Should I be filling a reusable bottle with that ‘clean’ water that comes from the tap, if it’s better than bottled?
There’s that ‘clean’ word again.
The Secrets of Tap Water
Although our water undergoes an essential disinfection process to destroy most harmful organisms like bacteria and parasites - chlorination of our water supply won’t eliminate all the bad guys (in fact, chlorine may be doing more harm by also killing the good microbes in your gut).
Below are some of the top contaminants that can make their way into our water:
Disease-carrying microorganisms can still pollute our tap water, which can derive from the stool of infected animals or people.
Homes built in the 70’s are also commonly equipped with lead and copper pipes, and with corrosion - unwanted lead and copper can also join the bad guy party with the harmful microbes in your tap water.
Heavy metals, nitrates, prescription medications, hormones, chemical fertilizers, pesticide runoff, arsenic and fluoride are also present in our ‘clean’ water.
Top 4 Reasons to Filter Your Drinking Water
(Because your tap water is dirtier than it looks)
Chlorine is harming your microbiome!
Chlorine is the main method of action for disinfecting our water supply to kill disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoan. But you know what: the chlorine is also disinfecting your body and killing off the good microbes in your gut . If you’ve taken part in my Guide to Better Digestion program, you will learn just how essential water filtration is if you’re looking to heal and repair your gut!
Remove the infamous chemicals
The Environmental Working Group has identified 316 chemicals in Americas tap water, 202 of which are not regulated. Let’s be real here, the only “chemicals” you really need in your water are hydrogen and oxygen to make H2O. Quality water filtration systems are designed to remove heavy metals, nitrates, prescription medications, hormones, chemical fertilizers, pesticide runoff and arsenic. How can your water really be ‘clean’ with all that inside?
Peace Out Fluoride
The form of fluoride in our water supply, in your toothpaste and at the dentist is not the same natural fluoride that our bodies require (in extremely trace amounts, by the way). We are ingesting fluoride compounds from many sources at a level that are truly not safe for consumption . Studies are now showing serious harm with even minuscule amounts of fluoride intake. Fluoride intake is being linked to brain damage and decreased IQ , lowered thyroid function , genetic damage and cell death , disruption of the synthesis of collagen , immune system dysfunction  and many other damaging health effects! If fluoride is in your water supply - ensure you choose a system that has the proper filtration to effectively remove fluoride.
Save Your Money
Daily water requirements for a family of four (8 glasses/64 ounces) equates to 7.5 litres. If your water comes from a 12-ounce plastic bottle, you are approximately paying $6 per case of water (fancy water can be much more), at around $0.40 per bottle you’re looking at an annual cost of $3,114.67.
$0.40 per bottle
x 5.3 bottles per person
x 4 people
x 365 (days in a year)
Choosing your system
While there are many different types of water filtration/purification systems, unless you’re planning on staying where you are long-term, many of us need to look at portable counter-top water filters.
Your best option when it comes to a portable until is the Berkey. This gravity water purification system has been tested and confirmed to remove or greatly reduce the following contaminants:
Trihalomethanes (chemical compounds that can be formed when water is disinfected with chlorine)
Inorganic Minerals: Chloramine; Chloride; Chlorine Residual (Total Residual Chlorine); Free Chlorine
Heavy Metals: Aluminum, Antimony, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Chromium 6, Copper, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Vanadium, Zinc
Microorganisms: Total Coliform, Fecal Coliform, e.Coli
Pharmaceutical Drug Contaminants: Acetaminophen, Caffeine, Bisphenol A, Progesterone, Ibuprofen,Naproxen Sodium, Triclosan, etc.
Pesticides & Volatile Organic Compounds
Also removes/reduces: Arsenic, Manganese, Nitrites, PCB’s, Petroleum Products, Selenium, Rust, Foul Tastes and Odors.
While a Berkey has a higher upfront cost when compared to pitcher models, it’s really the most cost effective in the long run. Don’t waste your time with Brita (which removes almost nothing), the Berkey is low-maintenance and pays off in the long-term.
Each Berkey filter element has a life of just over 11,400 litres (3,000 gallons). For a family of four drinking the recommended 7.5 litres per day (8 cups per person), you would need to replace the filter every 4 years at the cost of $100 to $120 CAD.
Compare that to Brita Pitcher, the filter needs to be replaced every 150 litres (40 gallons). For a family of four drinking the same recommendation you would need to replace the filter every 20 days. With 18 filters a year at $8 each, you’re paying over $145 a year and you may still have pesticides, pathogenic yeasts and bacteria and arsenic in your water.
A Berkey may cost more upfront, however it’s a sustainable solution. If you can’t install a whole-home reverse osmosis filter, this is truly your best option. Your total start up cost would be around or under $400, depending on if you choose extra filters or accessories. Compare that to $3,114.67, the estimated annual cost of drinking from plastic water bottles - your total savings for one year of filtered drinking water could be $2714.67
Not to mention, if you give up the plastic water bottles, you are decreasing your annual household waste by 4,380 plastic bottles.
Whole Home Water Filtration
As mentioned at the beginning of this informative blog, water is for more than just drinking to keep you hydrated and functioning, you’re also using it to cook and clean yourself and your house with. If you’re starting from the beginning, getting a system set-up for your drinking water should be first priority - but here’s some more pieces to the puzzle. These are your Top 5 Reasons to Look at a Whole Home Water Filtration System:
YOU’RE INHALING MORE CHLORINE IN A 10-MINUTE SHOWER THAN YOU’RE DRINKING IN A DAY
When you take a hot shower or bath, not only are you absorbing chlorine through your skin, but you’re also inhaling it! Researchers have found an increase in chloroform breath concentration of 6-21 micrograms/m3 after a just a 10-minute shower. Since warm water also further opens your pores, a combination of what your skin absorbs and what you inhale during a 10-minute hot shower is more chlorine than what’s found in the recommended eight glasses of water .
It’s time to hook-up your shower with a filter! (filter life span: up to 6 months)
YOU’RE BUYING ORGANIC, BUT USING TAP WATER FOR COOKING?
In addition to negatively affecting your health, cooking with unfiltered tap water can change the taste of everything that you prepare in the kitchen. If you’re spending money on organic, but washing your fruits and vegetables with tap water that contains pesticides and herbicides - this may be slightly counterproductive.
IT HELPS ON LAUNDRY DAY
Looking for softer and brighter clothes? With a whole house water filter, you’re removing the chlorine and other chemicals from the water as it enters your house. That means none of these are being used in the washing machine! Less chemicals being embedded in your clothing can work to increase the lifespan while adding more vibrancy favourite textiles!
LET’S FACE IT. YOU’RE STILL DRINK TAP WATER
Even if you have a filtration system - you’re probably still going to be using the tap for a glass here and there, and for your cooking, coffee and tea making. Having a whole home water filtration system allows you to confidently and conveniently use the water straight from your tap. It’s first nature to turn on the tap on for water - make sure that water it’s filtered!
WELCOME A NEW HOME FILTRATION SYSTEM
Many of us start small when making improvements to water quality, you may start with the Berkey and a shower filter, which are both powerful and cost effective options. But when it comes to whole house filtration, meet your #1:
The Tesla of water filtration. A R.O. system hooks up to the plumbing in your house, so you will have filtered water coming straight out of whatever tap you hook the system up to! A reverse osmosis system uses a process that reverses the flow of water in the natural process of osmosis, the water will pass from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semipermeable membrane.
Reverse osmosis systems have a very effective in removing:
Viruses (Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus, etc.)
Bacteria (Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, etc.)
Protozoa (Cryptosporidium, Giardia, etc.)
Heavy Metals, Nitrates, Prescription Medications, Hormones, Chemical Fertilizers, Pesticide Runoff
Common chemical contaminants: sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, lead, arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus
Reverse osmosis filters are definitely pricier, but they last for years, and are relatively easy to install, even if you’re not a professional plumber. If this is the option for you, have a chat with the staff at your local hardware or home improvement store as they will be able to advise you on all your options.
Don’t Forget Your Minerals
One final step to keep in mind is that while filtration/purification systems such as R.O. are effective at removing everything that you don’t want in your water, but they also remove some things that you do want - such as beneficial minerals; like calcium and magnesium.
If you’re an avid holisticole blog reader, may have already heard me boast about Concentrace before... This trace mineral supplement is one of my top recommendations. Super-concentrated with over 72 essential and trace minerals. Just simply add a few drops to your reusable water bottle (with your filtered water) or cooking - to ensure you are not missing out!
Benefits of Concentrace include:
Strong bones, joints and teeth (don’t miss this Functional Food for Joint Pain)
Electrolyte replacement: increased energy and vitality by balancing soluble minerals in the body fluids.
Maintain pH balance
Healthy hair and skin
Supports Better Digestion
Calcium assimilation - Concentrace is high in magnesium which aids in calcium absorption
Circulatory health - minerals play a vital role in decalcification, antioxidant support and cleansing!
Vitamin enhancement - trace minerals help to assimilate vitamins
More Informative Blog Posts
Holisticole Online Programs
 7 things to know about the bottled vs. tap water debate
Kazi Stastna - http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182
 We're Now At A Million Plastic Bottles Per Minute - 91% Of Which Are Not Recycled
Trevor Nace - https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/07/26/million-plastic-bottles-minute-91-not-recycled/#55123fb8292c
 Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention
Stephen Peckham-Niyi Awofeso - https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/293019/
 Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children
 Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Anna Choi-Guifan Sun-Ying Zhang-Philippe Grandjean - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491930/
 Is fluoridated drinking water associated with a higher prevalence of hypothyroidism?
Philip Segal, MD - https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/ctfp/volume8/issue6/ct_public_v86_3.pdf
 Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water
S Peckham-D Lowery-S Spencer - http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/09/jech-2014-204971
 DNA damage, apoptosis and cell cycle changes induced by fluoride in rat oral mucosal cells and hepatocytes
Ling-Fei He-Jian-Gang Chen - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4087913/
 Effect of fluoride on collagen synthesis in the rat.
B Uslu - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6856987
 Chloroform exposure and the health risk associated with multiple uses of chlorinated tap water.
W Jo-C Weisel-P Lioy - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2287785