*Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. For serious.
Many people are drinking incredibly low-quality water—potentially containing dangerous neurotoxins—and even those of us drinking filtered or bottled water may still be damaging our health by consuming water that is mostly void of trace minerals.
In order for water to be healthy, it must be free of toxins and must also contain the trace minerals that we see in naturally occurring spring water.
Water void of these trace elements may cause leaching of essential elements from our bodies, thus contributing to mineral deficiencies with potentially severe health impacts.
For those of us who don’t have access to a natural spring, there is a simple way to “make” healthy water ourselves. By adding mineral-rich salt to highly filtered water—or any other source of trace minerals—we can effectively re-mineralize the water and prevent a number of health conditions associated with mineral deficiencies.
Before re-mineralizing water, we first need to be sure that the water we’re using is free of all toxins. Tap water can be potentially harmful and may contain neurotoxins at dangerous levels such as fluoride, lead and arsenic. Some brands of bottled water simply come from tap water—water that may or may not have been additionally filtered—and are probably not wise choices.
I see a lot of my friends drinking bottled water brands that make bold claims on the label such as, “natural spring water” or “mineral water” and it worries me to see this. Chances are that water is far from natural—and how can we really know unless we review a chemical assay on the water?
A more accurate label would read something like, “Factory processed water mostly void of minerals, treated with chemicals like chlorine and packaged in a plastic bottle, which has also been known to leach other chemicals like BPA into the water.” That probably wouldn’t be a catchy marketing slogan!
When I first began to change my lifestyle—including everything I was eating and drinking—I had to face the fact that I didn’t know squat about water. At that time, I was drinking distilled water because I thought that since it is the most highly filtered, it must also be the best drinking water. This is completely false and a common misconception. It’s a great thing that distilled water doesn’t contain toxins like we see in tap or bottled water, but that doesn’t make it healthy for our bodies. By consuming the best possible water, we are taking a major step toward achieving true health and vitality.
Why tap water can be harmful:
Tap water may contain fluoride—a dangerous neurotoxin—at unacceptable levels.
Most municipal tap water in the United States contains a substance many of us have heard of called fluoride. This is a controversial subject so I will simply present some known information about water fluoridation and ask a few questions.
Fluoride is touted by the dental establishment as having a beneficial effect on tooth decay and this is the cited reason for its addition to public water supplies. Ingesting this substance in certain doses will have acutely toxic effects on the human body including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
The fluoride commonly found in drinking water is a byproduct of the production of phosphate fertilizers. During the production of this fertilizer, phosphate ore is reacted with sulfuric acid to produce toxic gases. These gases are taken out of the air after being sprayed with water, which produces fluorosilicic acid. The fluorosilicic acid is then diluted in water and occasionally the solution undergoes an additional process to create sodium fluorosilicate. Together these compounds—called silicofluorides—provide fluoride to 95 percent of fluoridated drinking water systems in the United Sates and serve over 150 million people.
Fluoride is listed as one of 11 substances—including arsenic and lead—considered to be developmental neurotoxins. Based on two different studies, the minimum dosage that might produce acute fluoride toxicity in humans has been estimated to be between 0.1 milligrams and 0.3 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight. This means that an adult weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) would need to drink water containing between 6 and 18 parts per million (ppm) fluoride to potentially produce acute symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
In the United States, fluoride is usually added to water at around 1 ppm, however the EPA lists the maximum contaminant level for fluoride to be 4 ppm. This means that if there was six times more fluoride in average tap water—going by the lower estimate—then that water could actually produce acute symptoms in adults.
But what about children?
A small child weighing just 10 kilograms might produce acute toxicity symptoms from tap water containing 1ppm fluoride—or going by the higher estimate—water containing 3 ppm fluoride, both of which would be legally acceptable according to the EPA. Even going by the higher estimate this means that if fluoride concentrations were increased by only three times from normal levels, a small child could display acute symptoms. This is alarming considering that there have been many instances in the United States alone where water was found to contain higher than acceptable levels of fluoride.
Does it really make sense that at 1 ppm, fluoride has a health benefit (reportedly preventing tooth decay), but when increased by only three times it can suddenly become acutely toxic to children? Of course, almost any substance can become toxic in high enough doses, but fluoride levels seem to be a little bit too close for comfort. In fact, the human body has no nutritional need for fluoride whatsoever. Also, keep in mind that this is data for acute toxicity, meaning symptoms produced immediately after ingesting fluoride one time. This data has nothing to do with long-term exposure to fluoride.
In 2012, Harvard researchers reviewed 27 studies conducted in China and concluded that there is a strong indication that long-term ingestion of fluoride may negatively affect cognitive development in children. It’s no wonder that 97 percent of European countries have banned water fluoridation. Consuming this substance from tap water seems to be unwise and the evidence for its ability to prevent tooth decay seems only to support the notion that the topical application of fluoride may have this effect. This means that simply ingesting fluoride may have no effect on preventing tooth decay at all.
Not only does tap water contain fluoride, it has also been known to contain other toxins in doses far above acceptable human intake levels. (The information I present here only scratches the surface of the water fluoridation issue and for further reading please explore the resources found at fluoridealert.org.)
Tap water is treated with chlorine which has known toxic effects.
Most tap water is treated with chlorine because chlorine effectively kills potentially pathogenic bacteria in the water. Once added to water, chlorine can react with organic compounds and may form toxic substances called trihalomethanes. These toxins can damage cells inside the body, most often in the bladder and rectum where a large amount of the water we drink eventually ends up. Chlorine exposure has also been linked to breast cancer. In a recent study, researchers found that women with breast cancer had 50 percent to 60 percent higher concentrations of chlorine by-products in their breast tissue than cancer-free women. Another study concluded that “environmental chemical contamination with organochlorine residues may be an important etiologic factor in breast cancer.”
Old pipes can leach other neurotoxins including arsenic and lead.
Pipes and water mains in the United States are frequently over 100 years old and these old pipes have been known to leach chemicals such as lead and arsenic into tap water. The recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a perfect example of this. Flint neglected to properly treat its water and as a result, the citizens of Flint were consuming highly toxic water containing dangerous neurotoxins like lead—among other contaminants—for over two years.
Drinking tap water is taking a massive gamble from a health perspective.
Is all tap water toxic?
Maybe not, but should we really be willing to take the risk of drinking it? Should we really trust governments and water treatment companies with our safety? Anyone who was, or currently is, a resident of Flint, Michigan probably has a good answer to that question.
Maybe we should trust public water, but from another perspective, we are giving up control over our health by doing this. Especially considered the long history of contaminated public water crises in the United States alone, it is best to get our water from a source that we can trust.
Understanding the dangers of tap water leads us toward other options such as filtered water or bottled water. Many brands of bottled water are simply sourced from tap water having sometimes been subjected to additional filtration. Some water filters are better than others and certain ones on the market do have the ability to remove all toxins—including fluoride and other neurotoxins—from the water. Distilled water and reverse osmosis treated water will remove pretty much everything from water guaranteed, but there’s a catch. Purifying water doesn’t create healthy water. In order for water to be healthy, it needs to be rich in trace minerals in the same way that we see in natural spring water bubbling up from the ground.
The detrimental effect of water that is low in trace minerals on the body:
Water has a tendency to absorb other substances—including minerals—which is why it is called the “universal solvent.”
Think of water like a party bus on a college campus and think of minerals like students looking for an awesome, free party. Everywhere the bus goes, more and more students keep hopping on the bus. Water operates in the same way. When water is void of minerals—as is the case with distilled water for example—it will attract and absorb other substances such as minerals, just like a magnet. This can be seen in nature as rainwater sinks down into the ground. The water absorbs minerals from the soil as it flows through underground waterways, and eventually rises to the surface as mineral rich, natural spring water.
The reason this is important is that “mineral-hungry water” can absorb minerals when inside our bodies as well. Low mineral content water can move through our body, picking up minerals along the way, and may eventually cause those vital minerals to be eliminated from our body. Our body needs these minerals to properly function! This is why distilled water can be used in certain heavy metal detox programs. Bottled water might cause our body to leach minerals in this way as well.
How can we really be sure that brands with labels that say things like “mineral water” or “natural spring water” do in fact contain trace minerals at proper levels? The only way to determine this for sure would be to request a chemical assay from the company. Who has time for that?! The simple reason bottled waters tend to be low in important minerals is that it is expensive to add minerals back into the water for the water companies. Since most people aren’t taking a measuring device and checking—or asking the company to see a chemical assay—bottled water companies are likely to keep producing low-quality water void of vital minerals.
There are a few really good brands out there, that also come in glass bottles, and do have adequate mineral saturation. Two of these brands are “Mountain Valley Spring Water” and “Gerolsteiner Mineral Water,” the latter of which is a naturally carbonated water.
How to re-mineralize our water using salt:
If access to either of these brands is limited or if they are too expensive, there is a simple solution. Take highly filtered water—such as distilled water or reverse osmosis treated water—and add a few pinches of salt. That’s all that needs to be done to remineralize the water! By doing this, we know for sure that there are no toxins in the water—because both of these processes remove pretty much everything other than pure H20—and we also know for sure that the water is rich in minerals because we added them back in ourselves! Now that’s peace of mind.
Not all salt is the same.
The type of salt we use to do this is the key.
Table salt (NaCl), will not work because it only contains two elements, sodium and chlorine. We need something with a higher diversity of minerals, or the water will still try to leach these elements from our body.
The most widely available and easily accessible salt for most people is called “Himalayan Pink Salt.” Adding one pinch of this type of salt per gallon of water will re-mineralize the water. There is no mixing required as the salt will naturally dissolve into the water. An even better option—although this brand is a little harder to find—is called “Celtic Sea Salt.” It has been proven to contain a high amount of different minerals compared to most other brands. Be careful about using generic “sea salt” as many brands of sea salt can contain dangerous food additives such as anti-caking agents, to prevent the salt from “clumping” together. If the salt is completely white in color this is usually, but not always, a red flag that it is low in mineral content. These salts can also be used to add dynamic flavors to food as well. Anyone who is taking a trace mineral supplement could also use that supplement—as long as it comes in a liquid or powdered form—to remineralize their water.
Minerals nourish the body.
When I first found out about distilled water’s tendency to absorb minerals I was alarmed because at that point I had been drinking exclusively distilled water! I thought that distilled water was actually the best quality water because it is the most highly filtered. I was worried that I had done serious harm to my body at this point. Upon doing more research I learned that drinking all of that distilled water probably had caused my body to leach a lot of vital minerals, but it wasn’t as if I had done irreversible damage.
Part of my worry stemmed from the fact that minerals are required to facilitate an uncountable number of chemical reactions constantly occurring inside the human body. The mineral Zinc, for example, is required by over 300 different enzymes for those enzymes to do their job. I want to be clear here that water should not be our primary source of minerals. We should be getting these essential elements primarily from our diet or from trace mineral supplements.
Drinking mineralized water is important because the alternative causes mineral loss. By looking to nature, it is obvious that healthy water is mineral-rich. As far as I know there is no such thing as distilled water in nature—and if there were—animals definitely would not be drinking it because animals seek out natural springs when they are present in their environment.
For people who have not been drinking the best water, there is no need to worry—the human body is an incredibly intelligent organism simultaneously regulating our heartbeat, blood pressure and digestion, just to mention of few of the biological processes which are constantly occurring. When given the proper raw materials are placed in the right environment, the intelligence of the body knows exactly how to regenerate and re-mineralize itself. All we have to do is give it the right tools to do the job. So, for anyone thinking they haven’t been getting good water for a long time, it’s okay.
The body will be grateful for being given mineral-rich water, free of toxins. The water will not taste like salt. In fact, most people report that the water tastes much better and even quenches their thirst more than standard bottled water. I know for sure that this was my experience!
For anyone interested in achieving true health and vitality, drinking mineral rich water exclusively is an absolute necessity. It can be a fun process to “make water” in this way and it can strengthen our relationship with the very substance that comprises over 70 percent of our physical structure, and without which, we would not survive for more than a few days.
- BPA Is Fine if You Ignore Most Studies for It
- Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity
- Acute fluoride poisoning from a public water system.
- Table of Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants
- Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks
- Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children
- Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries
- Health Risks From Drinking Demineralised Water
Author: John Miller
Editor: Catherine Monkman