Did you know that the average human can survive 45-61 days without food but only three days without water? (1) Goes to show how much of a life source water really is.
Approximately 55% to 75% of the human body is made of water. (2) It is essential for balancing electrolytes, transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout the entire body, regulating temperature, helping the liver and kidneys to flush waste and bacteria out of the body, assisting in detoxification, and influencing digestion and bowel movements (think hunger control and weight loss), normalizing blood pressure and stabilizing heartbeat, repairing muscles, providing padding to joints, and improving the glow and lustre of your eyes, skin, and hair.
It’s easy to become dehydrated if we’re not paying attention. Aside from the obvious of not consuming enough water, some of the culprits that contribute to dehydration include excessive sweating, consumption of coffee, bread, meat proteins, salty, processed, and fried food, alcohol, and certain medications.
We typically use our thirst to guide how much water we should drink. But let’s face it, many of us can go for hours without feeling thirsty, and when we finally do, we likely opt for something other than water to satiate our thirst. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger and choose a snack or a meal instead of drinking water. This is why keeping track and being aware of our daily water intake is important.
How Much Water Should We Drink?
There is so much conflicting information about how much water we should consume daily. The average varies between 4 to 18 cups a day! (3) Obviously, the jury still hasn’t reached a consensus. However, using our biological “thirst-ometer” as a general guideline is a great way to gauge it. The amount of water a person needs to drink depends on various factors such as age, sex, health status, activity level, and climate. It is also important to remember that the food we consume also contains water, especially fruits and vegetables. The water amount from our food should be considered when optimizing our daily hydration. Dietitians of Canada recommend a daily intake of 2.2 L (9 cups) for females and 3.0 L (12 cups) for males. The U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends a slightly higher daily intake of 2.7 L (11.5 cups) for females and 3.7 L (15.5 cups) for males. (4)
These recommendations, of course, do not take into account individual variations in weight, diet, activity, etc. A more customized approach, recommended by exercise and performance expert Dr. Andy Galpin, is to consume one-half of your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, 150/2=75, so you would consume 75 ounces of water per day. (5)
As with all general recommendations, this is an excellent place to start, and pay attention to what your body is telling you. You will likely need more water if you eat a highly processed diet. If you consume a pure whole-food diet, you likely need less water.
How To Recognize The Signs Of Dehydration
The most general way to detect our level of dehydration is through our urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated we are; the lighter it is (straw-like colour), the more hydrated you are. Another way to gauge our dehydration is by learning to listen to our body and recognize the common symptoms: fatigue, headaches, lack of focus and trouble with memory, feeling weak, dry mouth and bad breath, sugar cravings, lightheadedness, dizziness, muscle cramps, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and breathing, as well as mood swings.
The importance of hydration isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to water. The quality of the water we drink is extremely important to our health and vitality, particularly since we are made of mostly water. So if we want to nourish our body with one of the most essential sources of life, it better be good—as in clean, free of contaminants, non-toxic, and filled with nutrients to recharge our body.
We see so many different options for water on the market, but what is so different about each filtration system? Which one is better? What about bottled water and plastic leaching? How old is the water in water bottles, and does it matter? What is the water stored in? How was it stored, and where? You get my point! Something seemingly so simple as water can truly get complex, so let’s “dive” into the different types of water.
H2O Unveiled: A Comprehensive Look at the Different Water Types
Water is an essential component for sustaining life, but even “clean” sources of tap water may not be safe for consumption. Municipal water often contains harmful contaminants such as fluoride, chlorine, pharmaceutical drug residue, and heavy metals that can have adverse effects on our health. Additionally, ageing pipes and infrastructure can also contribute to the presence of harmful contaminants in water. Therefore, it is important to filter water through a reliable filtration system to remove these impurities and ensure that we are drinking clean and safe water.
Natural / Raw / Spring / Mineral:
This living water comes from the earth. It has not been altered in any way, not filtered, or processed. It also still has all of its minerals intact. This same water makes up the composition of carbonated mineral water, where the water gets infused with carbon dioxide to create bubbles.
- Contains higher amounts of minerals than purified water.
- Fluoride-free, a mineral that could be harmful to our health if consumed in high amounts, negatively impacting thyroid function, mental development, bone strength, and cancer development.
- The minerals offer a long list of health benefits, such as maintaining a healthy body weight, improved circulation, decreased muscle and joint pain, improved digestion, and healthier skin. They also support normal muscle and nerve function, keep bones strong, support a healthy immune system, keep the heart rhythm steady, and much more.
- Some spring waters can become contaminated with environmental pollutants such as fertilizers from neighbouring farms or manufacturing plants and animal waste, which could all cause serious illness.
- The only way to obtain this type of water is by having access to a direct source or purchasing it in bottles, which could become quite expensive.
- It could contain as many bad bacteria as good ones.
- It could contain high levels of heavy metals like lead, copper, and arsenic.
This method uses an activated carbon filter (coconut, charcoal, ceramic, etc.) to make contaminants stick to the pores of the carbon source to remove odour, taste, and particles in the water.
- The activated carbon filter has the ability to remove a lot more pollutants than the distillation method.
- It can remove pathogens, including the ones that make the water smell or taste bad.
- It removes the volatile organic compounds mentioned earlier.
- It keeps all of the beneficial minerals we need for our health.
- It does not remove certain chemicals that are not attracted to carbon, like sodium, nitrates, heavy metals, and fluoride.
- Filters need to be replaced regularly as the pores in the carbon filter get filled with contaminants.
- Some viruses and harmful bacteria can bypass the filtration system and cause bacterial overgrowth, leading to illness.
- Best to use it in combination with another filter to remove whatever contaminants are left behind post-carbon filtration.
- The water needs to be in contact with the carbon filter for a certain amount of time to remove pollutants effectively.
- Not all filters are created equal in quality, so safety certification (NSF) is highly recommended.
The distillation process involves converting water into steam to remove any bacteria, contaminants and, unfortunately, minerals. The steam evaporates from the water chamber and goes into the steam chamber (typically made of glass), where it cools and condenses into water again. This method creates highly purified water that meets specific classification requirements, removing 99.9 percent of pollutants. (6)
- It is recommended for people highly sensitive to water pollutants, including children and those with weakened immune systems.
- It removes contaminants like chlorine, bacteria, chemicals, dissolved inorganic compounds, and heavy metals.
- When taken (6-8 oz) on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning, it helps to draw toxins into the bladder and expel them from the body.
- Due to its efficiency at removing almost everything from the water, it also removes essential nutrients such as minerals (electrolytes) that our body needs to function well. Therefore we would need to either remineralize the water or ensure we get an adequate amount through diet and supplements.
- It does not remove volatile organic compounds, such as gasoline, paint, solvents, glue and adhesive products, ink, magic marker pens, pesticides, air fresheners, and cleaning agents from the water. Only a carbon filter can do that.
- It is not recommended for hydration after intense physical activity for people who are malnourished, dehydrated, or ill.
- Because distilled water is stripped of practically everything, it’s no longer charged, meaning it can draw minerals from anything it touches, including the plastic it is stored in.
Water pressure from the pipes passes the water through a thin semi-permeable membrane, blocking most contaminants and washing them away. It is also often filtered through carbon filters. It’s a common way to obtain purified water in cities where salt water is more abundant than fresh water, but minerals are added back into that city water.
- This method removes a wide range of contaminants such as salt, chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides, bacteria, and other impurities.
- It doesn’t differentiate between good and bad ingredients, so while it removes the bad stuff, it also removes beneficial trace minerals like iron and manganese, which also play an important role in our health.
- The quality of nutrients and minerals in our food supply is not what it used to be, so using a water filtration system that further removes minerals can lead to increased health risks if not careful.
- Cooking with demineralized water reduces your food’s nutritional content, causing up to a 60% loss of magnesium and calcium, 66% of copper, 70% loss of manganese, and 86% of cobalt. (7)
- It can waste up to 60% of the water in the process of filtration. (8)
Purified / Filtered:
Like distilled or reverse osmosis water, purified or filtered water is basically tap water that has been filtered in a similar manner to remove pollutants, chemicals, and metals (like lead and copper commonly found in tap water) and potentially pesticides. However, some minerals like calcium, magnesium, and fluoride remain. Many of the most popular pitcher filtration systems available are only capable of removing a limited amount of these contaminants, and while it certainly is better than drinking unfiltered water, be wary that not all filtration systems are created equal.
Oxygenated water is a relatively new functional water product that has oxygen added during the canning or bottling process using pressure. The added oxygen is claimed to provide health benefits, including aiding exercise recovery, flushing toxins out of the body, and improving alcohol metabolism. One caveat, however, is that once the bottle of oxygenated water is opened and the pressure is released, most of the oxygen escapes. Whatever’s left is trivial. Most notably, one single breath has more oxygen than a litre of oxygenated water. So taking a nice deep breath to fill your lungs will likely be much more beneficial than drinking this type of water; best of all, fresh air is free!
As there hasn’t been a lot of research about the use and benefits of ozonated water and even less so on humans, the jury is still out on this one.
This type of water is made by filling a cylinder with purified water while an ozone gas mixture bubbles through it continuously for a few minutes until it is fully saturated. Although this method needs to be studied further, current research reveals that it does carry many benefits. It has been used in France and Germany since the early 1900s, and now at least 3,000 cities are using ozonated water as their main water filtration system.
- Ozonated water has antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics that work well for cancer treatment and prevention.
- It enhances the effects of chemotherapy drugs on the treatment of tumours.
- This water has also been shown to be effective in keeping teeth healthy by eliminating bad oral bacteria.
- It helps to heal oral wounds.
- It helps to extend the shelf life of food.
- Ozone gas, when on its own, can have damaging health effects on respiratory airways when inhaled; however, not when infused in water. More recent studies are definitely needed to observe how and through which method this might happen.
- This type of water isn’t really meant to be used as a regular household water filtration system. It is used more in medical settings to treat bacterial overgrowth and as a disinfectant.
Hydrogen water is regular filtered water with hydrogen gas added to the water by using a special grade of pure elemental magnesium as its carrier. Molecular hydrogen can help mitigate the damaging effects of excessive free-radical exposure caused by radiation and exposure to chemicals, including household cleaning items and beauty products, processed foods, and even excessive exercise or flying. How does it work? Molecular hydrogen activates beneficial intercellular antioxidants, which can help lower inflammation and improve mitochondrial functions, therefore improving cellular energy.
Concerns with Bottled Water: Plastic Leaching and Storage Issues
One of the main concerns with bottled water is that they are made of many types of plastics, which can leach into the water and have detrimental effects on your health. Not only that, these water bottles can get stored in large warehouses for months before making it to the shelves and whatever potential benefits that water had at the time it was bottled, like some of the minerals mentioned earlier, begin dissipating and eventually become completely ineffective. Now imagine the skids of plastic water bottles piled outside a grocery store or gas station in the blistering summer heat with the sun beaming down on them day in and day out…need I say more? It is a good practice to get in the habit of always bringing your home-filtered water with you whenever you leave the house. Use bottles made from stainless steel or glass whenever possible–a simple mason jar works great!
So Which Water is Right For Me?
There are many variables to consider when choosing which type of filtration unit suits your needs–geographic location, age of your home, personal health needs, and budget are all factors to consider. Hopefully, the above breakdown of each type of water can be of assistance when you are choosing what water is best for you. With so many products available, the choice is ultimately yours, and I am not here to influence you one way or another. That being said, I do have a few recommendations of tools I use to optimize my water that I’d like to share:
Molecular Hydrogen Tablets: I am a big fan of adding hydrogen tablets to my water in the morning for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. How do you get hydrogen in your water? Place one or two tablets of H2 molecular hydrogen in 12 oz of water at room temperature, and let it dissolve. Set a timer to 90 seconds or 1 ½ minutes and try not to exceed the time as the hydrogen gas will dissipate and it will lose its effect. It’s definitely best to drink it in one continual fashion. My favourite – Drink HRW
Portable Water Filter: Whenever I am travelling, I love to pack this portable water bottle/filter to ensure I can access clean water anywhere. You can get it on Amazon HERE.
Shower/Bath Filter: Our skin is our biggest organ, and what we put on it is equally important as what we put in our bodies. Consider a shower head or bath faucet filter to remove unwanted contaminants from the water you bathe in. This is also available on Amazon HERE.
Analemma Tube: This cool device structures the molecules in your water, transforming it into a liquid crystalline state which aids in bringing coherence to the body and mind, increases cellular energy, enhances immune function, and boosts anti-inflammatory pathways. To learn more, visit their site HERE.
Test/Monitor Your Water: Consider testing your drinking water source through a company such as Tap Score. You can find exactly what is in your drinking water for a few hundred dollars: municipal, well water, rain or spring water. Alternatively,
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a website called “Drinking Water Watch,” where you can search for your local water system and access information about the quality of your drinking water. The website includes data on contaminants, violations, and compliance with drinking water standards. (Only available for U.S. municipalities)
As Gina Bria, co-author of Quench and founder of the Hydration Foundation, would say, “Being properly hydrated isn’t about the quantity of water that you drink, but the quality of water.” (9) Hydration is not merely a task; it’s a gift we give ourselves, a vital component of self-care. Water is the foundation of life, an essential element that sustains our bodies and fuels our daily activities. It is a source of nourishment that supports our physical and mental functions, ensuring optimal performance in every aspect of our lives. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate the simple yet profound impact that water can have on our lives, and prioritize our hydration, one sip at a time.
- MediLexicon International. (2020, March 17). How long can you go without food? survival, effects, and more. Medical News Today. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-long-can-you-go-without-food#how-long
- Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water. Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. (2005). https://doi.org/10.17226/10925
- YouTube. (2023, February 22). Dr. Andy Galpin: Optimal Nutrition & Supplementation for Fitness | Huberman Lab Guest series. YouTube. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from
- DeBaun, D. (2019, October 15). Distilled Water: What is it, and Can You Drink it? Bigberkeywaterfilters.com. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from https://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/distilled-water/distilled-water-what-is-it-and-can-you-drink-it
- Verma, K. C., & Kushwaha, A. S. (2014). Demineralization of drinking water: Is it prudent? Medical journal, Armed Forces India, 70(4), 377–379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mjafi.2013.11.011
- Levy, J. (2022, May 11). The best water for muscular, skin & mood disorders? Dr. Axe. Retrieved June 28, 2022, from https://draxe.com/nutrition/structured-water/
- Munoz, K. (2020, February 20). Is reverse osmosis water good for you? or does it over-filter? Dr. Axe. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from https://draxe.com/health/reverse-osmosis-water/
- Cohen, Dana, and Gina Bria. Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration. Hachette Books, 2018.