Category : Health and Fitness
Stop! Soda can literally kill you! Drink water instead!
Image via Dan McKay (Flickr)
Water Defeated Soda to Become the #1 Drink in America
I’m proud to say that water has officially defeated soda to become the number one drink in America… at least for now. People talk plenty about the soda wars between Coca Cola and Pepsi, which began with some ridiculous and costly advertising campaigns in the 1980s. The campaigns worked, however, and America became addicted to soda and the high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners found within the bubbly beverage. Over the years, we’ve suffered from our addiction to soda, and it looks like we are finally seeing the light and giving up that nasty syrupy stuff for the refresher that nature makes: water! Read more »
Finding Clean Water in the Wilderness
Image via Oakley Originals (Flickr)
I hope that you never become stranded in the wilderness, but in the event that you do, it’s so important that you know how to find safe drinking water – note: “naturally filtered” is a fine claim on bottled water, but in the real world, it’s a bit more involved that that. I want to give you some tips on how to find clean water needed for survival. We hear miraculous survival stories in the news all the time about hikers getting lost or some other unexpected incident where people had to hunker down and survive in the wild until rescued. The one survival tactic all of these people had in common is that they managed to find water. We can live without food much longer than we can live without water, so let’s learn how to find clean drinking water in the wilderness.
Finding Your Water
It might seem as if these initial steps are obvious, but when you’re panicking a bit, it can be hard to keep your wits about you. Survival experts agree there are two key things that anyone must accomplish in a survival situation:
1) You need to find shelter
2) You must find clean drinking water
Fans of Lost might remember how Jack came across a fresh water source complete with shelter to boot! Just like that! Depending on where you are, it’s not going to be as easy as a scripted survival story to meet your needs while you are stranded in the wilderness. Read more »
When consumed, drinking water contaminants can harm the body in many different ways. Some effects are acute, meaning that they occur within days of ingesting the contaminated water. Chronic effects, on the other hand, occur after several years of exposure to the contaminant. The kidney is one organ that frequently suffers chronic effects from long-term exposure to contaminants. Since March is National Kidney Month it seems appropriate to discuss the types of contaminants that can affect kidney health.
Since the main purpose of the kidneys is to filter the blood for toxins and other impurities, it is not surprising that many contaminants can easily damage this very important organ. These contaminants can be released into your drinking water from a variety of different sources. Below is a list of the drinking water contaminants that can damage the kidneys. The contaminants are grouped by their primary source.
Water Disinfection Byproducts
Discharge from Factories
1,1,2 – Trichloroethylene
Runoff from Petroleum Refineries
Herbicide / Insecticide Runoff
Corroded Plumbing Systems
In addition to the chemical contaminants listed above, a particular strain of the biological contaminant, E. coli (O157: H7), can lead to kidney damage as well. The bacteria infect the gastrointestinal system which causes premature destruction of red blood cells. These red blood cells clog the kidneys which can result in kidney failure, especially in children.
In order to maintain good kidney health it is important to limit your exposure to any of the above contaminants that might be in your drinking water. The Berkey Water Filters are very effective at removing or reducing nearly all of the drinking water contaminants that can potentially damage the kidneys. If there is a chance that any of these drinking water contaminants could be in your water, consider purchasing a Berkey Water Filter. It will not only benefit your kidney health but your overall well-being as well.
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime. Many Americans feel that this rate is higher than expected and that perhaps not only genetics are to blame. A quick search on the internet reveals many websites suggesting that fluoride, an additive in many community water systems, may be partially responsible for thyroid problems. Since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, it seems worthwhile to investigate whether fluoride affects the functioning of the thyroid.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland located in the middle of your lower neck, in front of your trachea (windpipe). Though it is small, the thyroid affects the major functions of your body by releasing the hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid gland uses iodine from your food to produce T3 and T4. These hormones affect growth and development, body temperature, and metabolism. T3 and T4 are necessary for brain development in infants and children as well.
Studies of how fluoride may affect thyroid functioning have been ongoing since the early 1900s. In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report that reviews many studies about fluoride and thyroid problems. Numerous experiments have been performed on animals with varying results. While some did not show any effect of fluoride on thyroid functioning, a few studies of rats and mice showed decreased thyroid hormone levels and increased goiter development (swelling of the gland) at higher fluoride intake levels. The intake levels varied with each study. One interesting fact that was mentioned in a few of the studies was that high fluoride levels intensified the effects of the test subjects that were iodine-deficient. Remember that, as mentioned previously, iodine is necessary to produce the thyroid hormones.
The NRC report also mentioned several studies that examined thyroid hormone levels in children in other countries with high fluoride levels in the drinking water. The conclusions of these studies were similar to several of the animal studies in that the scientists speculated that high fluoride levels may cause greater effects in low-iodine situations.
A Word of Caution
It is important to not rush to any conclusions about fluoride and thyroid issues. As the NRC mentions in the report, there are many inconsistencies in the studies that make them difficult to compare. The studies vary in: 1) types of test subjects used, 2) test concentrations of fluoride, 3) the types of measurements taken, such as hormone levels and occurrence of goiters, and 4) the types of effects observed. Scientists are not even certain how fluoride affects the thyroid gland. One theory that fluoride competes with iodide has been disproven. Clearly, more research is needed in this area.
Though the EPA has set limits for fluoride in drinking water, it is not known how much fluoride is necessary to cause effects in humans. If you already have a thyroid condition or are iodine-deficient, you might want to consult your doctor about limiting your exposure to fluoride. Visit the blog about Drinking Water Quality to learn about how you can discover how much fluoride is added to your drinking water.
If you are concerned about health and fitness, you are likely aware of the importance of drinking water. Water not only hydrates your body following exercise but it also improves digestion and helps your body remove toxins. There are many other benefits of drinking water as well. Even if you do not engage in regular exercise activities, it is still important that you make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water. But you may find yourself asking, “How much water should I drink”? Furthermore, your busy lifestyle may prevent you from remembering to drink enough water, causing you to feel dehydrated or tired. Fortunately, technology can save the day!
If you did not have one before, perhaps you just received an iPhone or other mobile device as a gift this holiday season. Applications (apps) are available for nearly every category, including drinking water. One app that is particularly popular is called “Water Your Body”. This app, which was updated a few months ago, calculates the amount of water that you should drink daily based on your current body weight that you enter and your lifestyle (exercise, etc.). It can help you create a customized drinking plan based on the size of container that you are using and you can set your device to remind you to drink water throughout the day. The default alert tone actually mimics the sound of water pouring into a glass. The app can also track how much water you drink daily and present the information in an easy-to-read graph so that you can analyze your drinking water habits to see if they need improvement. Most users rate the “Water Your Body” app very highly, claiming that it has really increased their drinking water intake.
By simply drinking the appropriate amount of clean water daily, you can experience numerous health benefits . If you have a mobile device, you should consider the “Water Your Body” app. Don’t miss out on an easy way to help improve your health and well-being.
If you take a moment to peruse the internet for drinking water topics, you will find many health-related websites encouraging the use of alkaline water for drinking. But you may be wondering, what is alkaline water? Unless you have taken a high school or college chemistry class, this term may be foreign to you. Read below to gain a better understanding of the facts behind this particular health craze.
Alkaline Water Defined
Alkaline water is related to pH. The term, pH, refers to the amount of hydrogen in the water. The pH value can range from zero to 14 with a pH of 7 considered to be neutral. Any pH value below 7 is considered to be acidic and becomes increasingly more acidic as the number reaches zero. This is due to more hydrogen ions being present in the water. On the other hand, a pH value that is greater than 7 has less hydrogen in the water and increases in alkalinity as the number reaches 14. Much of the time, alkaline water is due to the presence of a mineral source like calcium carbonate.
Either extreme on the pH scale is unsafe for consumption. For example, it is common knowledge that we do not drink battery acid (pH=0) or liquid drain cleaner (pH=14) but now many health-conscious individuals are promoting alkaline water as the most healthy beverage to consume. In many areas, drinking water naturally tends to be more alkaline anyway, with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 8.5. But should you purposefully drink only alkaline water?
Benefits of Alkaline Water
One proposed benefit of alkaline water is that it can help to neutralize acid in your bloodstream. Blood is strictly maintained at a slightly more alkaline pH ranging from 7.35 to 7.45. Ingesting water or any other food item, whether it is acidic or alkaline, will not determine your blood pH level. This is because your kidneys serve to regulate the pH of your blood. The kidneys maintain the pH level by excreting more acidic or alkaline substances in the urine. Oftentimes, if you consume more acidic substances your urine will be slightly more acidic with a lower pH but this is not an indicator of your blood pH level. Health experts say that if your blood pH is more acidic, it is not due to your diet but actually indicates that your kidneys are not functioning normally, possibly due to a serious health condition.
While alkaline water does not play a large role in helping to neutralize acid in your blood, researchers are investigating other potential benefits. Alkaline water may possibly help decrease bone resorption which is the process where bone is broken down and calcium is released into the blood. This is a natural process but can become excessive in older adults, leading to osteoporosis. In recent years, several scientific studies have suggested that when people regularly drink alkaline mineral water that is rich in bicarbonate, the level of parathyroid hormone (PTH) secreted by the body decreases. Since PTH is a hormone that causes bone resorption, decreased PTH helps the bones retain calcium. The Mayo Clinic ,however, warns that more research is needed since it is unknown if alkaline water influences overall bone mineral density. Furthermore, these studies were only performed on a short-term basis (four weeks). Long-term benefits of drinking alkaline water are largely unknown at this time.
It is very important to drink plenty of water but, as with any health craze, be sure to research the topic of alkaline water carefully before you decide to only consume this particular type of water.
If nutrition and fitness are an important part of your daily life, adding plenty of fresh, clean drinking water to your diet can have many positive health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, water is necessary for the body to perform its most basic functions such as body temperature regulation and nutrient/ oxygen transport via the circulatory system. Water is also needed to protect tissues, organs, and the spinal cord as well as maintain moist membranes found in your eyes, nose, and mouth. Water aids in toxin removal by dissolving uric acid, urea, and lactic acid, which are all waste products that can be harmful if they persist in the body. By drinking water you are reducing the burden on your kidneys and liver which remove these potential toxins from the body.
Improved digestion is another important benefit of drinking water. By combining with enzymes in saliva, water dissolves nutrients and soluble fiber which makes these items more available for your body to absorb and process. Water also improves digestive health by helping to relieve and prevent constipation. Water is not only necessary for proper digestion but is also a component of the synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions joints. By drinking water, you can possibly reduce the severity of sprains and injuries.
In addition to the basic health benefits, drinking water can be incorporated into your diet to help lose weight. The CDC suggests substituting sugar- sweetened beverages with water. You will consume approximately 240 fewer calories by drinking 20 ounces (oz.) of water in place of a 20 oz. soda sweetened with sugar. Furthermore, an obesity study funded by the Institute for Public Health and Water Research also suggests that when combined with a low calorie diet, drinking approximately 16 oz. of water prior to every meal can lead to greater weight loss in middle-aged and older adults, partly because the water causes increasing fullness and consequently not as much food is consumed.
How much water should you drink?
Water is lost during the normal processes of perspiration, respiration, and excretion. During daily activities and short bouts of exercise, a person will lose between 1.5 and 3 cups of water through perspiration alone so it is important to remain well-hydrated. There are many different suggestions of average daily water intake. The Mayo Clinic reports that the Institute of Medicine recommends that males drink 13 cups per day while females should drink 9 cups per day. The CDC says that normally active people should drink at least 2 quarts per day. Other sources suggest that to determine your specific daily water intake in ounces, you should divide your body weight (pounds) by 2. For example, a 120 lb individual should drink 60 oz. of water per day (120 lbs/2 = 60 oz.). Remember, factors like intense exercise (running a marathon), hot climates, or illness that includes high fever, diarrhea, or vomiting will cause more water loss and require that you drink more water to avoid dehydration.
Clearly water is essential to maintaining good health so start drinking more water and experience the many health benefits today!
Are you concerned about contaminants in your drinking water and searching for ways to purify your water? Distilling water is one option to remove impurities and involves boiling water and collecting the water vapor as it condenses. Boiling the water kills microbes and most contaminants are left behind in the boiled water, making the condensed water vapor contaminant-free. The process seems simple and safe enough doesn’t it? There are some things you should consider however before you start drinking distilled water.
Affects the taste of the water
Distilling water removes all impurities from the water, including natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While drinking demineralized water seems appealing because it is essentially pure, it can have some drawbacks. Natural minerals add flavor to the water so distilled water may actually taste flat due to the lack of minerals. Of course you can eventually get used to the flat taste but the lack of minerals can cause health problems as well.
Disrupts the body’s electrolyte balance
Water in your body is not pure but instead contains electrolytes, or salts, like sodium and potassium. When you drink distilled water that lacks salts, the water takes these electrolytes from your body. Drinking distilled water for long periods of time can decrease the electrolyte levels in your body causing you to feel tired and weak. You may also experience headaches and muscle cramps.
Removes nutrients when used for cooking
Just as distilled water pulls electrolytes from your body, it may also remove nutrients from food if used for cooking. Meat and vegetables contain numerous essential minerals but may lose these nutrients when cooked in distilled water. This is important to be aware of since most nutrients are ingested with food. In a study where soft water, which only contains sodium but no other dissolved minerals, was used for cooking, up to 60% of magnesium and calcium were lost from the cooked food. Over time, the decreased intake of minerals may lead to a deficiency which can cause many health problems.
Reduces mineral intake from water
We usually assume that all of our essential nutrients come from food but water also provides our bodies with minerals as well. Studies of communities in other countries have shown that women, especially pregnant women, who drink only demineralized water can experience loss of calcium from their bones. If you are already deficient in a mineral found in water, drinking distilled water can worsen this deficiency as well.
More Information and Alternatives
Very little information is available about the benefits or disadvantages of drinking distilled water. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a paper in 2005 titled “Nutrients in Drinking Water” that, in addition to other topics, discusses the health risks of drinking demineralized water. It contains very technical information but is a good review of different research studies.
Since there are potential drawbacks to drinking distilled water or any other type of demineralized water, you may want to consider other options when removing contaminants from your water. Water filters are available that remove harmful contaminants but do not remove healthy minerals.