What Do You Drink?
“You must drink eight glasses of water a day” you will have heard all your life. Healthy diet and nutrition as well as exercise is the key to good health, but what is often overlooked is drinking for health. Because water tastes bland, it is often the least favored beverage, unless it is very hot and then nothing quite quenches the thirst like ice cold water, and plenty of it. Incredible, but your body is mostly water and there are so many different biological functions which are dependent on water that it necessarily follows that water will certainly boost your health and well being.
Is distilled water safe?
Drinking distilled water on a regular and daily basis is potentially dangerous, I have never advised any patient to drink distilled water. Renowned American naturopath Paavo Airola first wrote about the dangers of distilled water back in the 1970’s when it became popular in North America, then in England and Europe. This is how distilled water is made: water is boiled during the distillation process in a small portable plug-in unit which are readily available. When the steam evaporates, the vapour is collected and condenses and then forms water – the distillate, which is what you drink.
Distilled water is free of dissolved minerals and, because of this it does have the special property of being able to actively absorb toxic substances from the body and eliminate them. Some experts say that small amounts are OK, others say that distilled water is beneficial for detoxification purposes but I’m not at all convinced, just stay away from it and use it for your iron or car battery.
Fasting (eating no foods) and relying on distilled water can be dangerous because the water you are consuming contains no electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and important minerals like magnesium. Deficiencies of these important minerals can cause an irregular heart beat, fatigue, sleeping disturbances and an irregular blood pressure.
Research has also revealed that distilled water absorbs carbon dioxide from the air thereby making it an acidic drink, and the more distilled water a person drinks, the higher their body acidity could potentially become. I can remember my chemistry teacher mentioning that distilled water was great for laboratory purposes but poor for human health. It is excellent for your iron or car battery because here you want to stop any mineral deposits from forming.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have this to say about distilled water: “Distilled water is aggressive and free of minerals, it tends to dissolve substances with which it is in contact. Notably, carbon dioxide from the air is rapidly absorbed, making the water acidic and even more aggressive. Many metals are dissolved by distilled water.”
Distilled water is dead water
The problem with distilled water is that it is devoid of all minerals and oxygen, and that presents quite a few problems. The more minerals you lose, the greater the risk becomes for conditions such as osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and a long list of degenerative diseases which are associated with low oxygen and mineral levels such as accelerated aging.
Enlightened scientists and health care professionals from around the world have been advocating the theory that aging and disease may in part be due to the accumulation of acid waste products in the body, and there is a great deal of scientific documentation supporting such a theory. Typical acidic foods and drinks in a person’s diet include meats, sugar, alcohol, fried, deep fried and processed foods, soft drinks, white flour and dairy products.
Distilled water is soft water – too soft
There is a definite correlation between the consumption of soft water and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Because distilled water is so soft and acid forming, it affects the bodies tissues adversely. Your body’s cells and tissues prefer a body which is not too acid and not too alkaline, just about somewhere close to the middle in fact. So what happens? Your body tries to “buffer” this mild acidity by slowly removing minerals like calcium from the skeleton, hence the long term risk of osteoporosis. In addition to this, magnesium is missing, and this spells a potential disaster for your heart. The longer you drink distilled water, the more likely the development of mineral deficiencies and an acid state.
Several years ago I did my own research with patients who drank either distilled water, RO water (reverse osmosis) and just plain old tap water. What I found was very interesting, I found that tests such as hair, urine and blood tests revealed that the people who drank plenty of distilled water showed some of the most obvious levels of mineral deficiencies – regardless of the supplements they took.
Ideally, your drinking water should contain calcium and magnesium.
Water filtered through reverse osmosis (RO) is a pretty good choice overall in my opinion, but does have a few downsides as well that I’d recommend you consider if choosing a water filtration unit for your house. Water purified by way of RO tends to be neutral (neither acid or alkaline) and is acceptable for regular use provided that your diet is nutritious and rich in minerals. I also recommend the regular intake of a multivitamin by way of a whole-foods multi.
The reverse osmosis way of filtration is not only an inefficient means of purifying drinking water, it is also ineffectual to some degree because the small pores in the membrane block particles of large molecular structure like salt, but chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine are molecularly smaller1 than water. Many people who purchase RO filters are very happy with their purchase like I have been, and for many years. What you are doing very effectively is cleaning the tap water to a very high level indeed, right down to the finest of particles such as sand, suspended metals, dirt, etc. But it is impossible to guarantee that an RO unit will 100% remove all chemical residues from the water, as there is no true way of measuring how water is affected by the tiniest of these residues.
Many cities around the world are experiencing drug residues in town water supplies. I have read some amazing articles in New Scientist and the Times magazine about the problem around the world with human waste products in general, including waste of plastics and chemicals left over by increasing industries and pollution in general and how this affects an increasingly dwindling supply of pure fresh water left in nature. It makes good sense to drink water as close to the purity once found in nature, but in order for you to be able to achieve this you will seriously need to look a=t an effective filtration system capable of removing not only particles suspended in the town water, but also the chemicals found in this water, and that’s where the problem lies.
Carbon block filter is a must
My recommendations are to ensure you have a carbon block or a large sized carbon filter in-line with your RO unit to ensure you soak up those nasty chemicals possibly left in the water, after it has passed through the membrane and stored in the tank.
Carbon is a substance that has a long history of being used to absorb impurities and is perhaps the most powerful absorbent known to man. Charcoal is carbon and is a great remedy for many different types of digestive problems as well, because of it’s ability to absorb toxins from the digestive tract as well. Five hundred grams of carbon contains a surface area of roughly 125 acres and can absorb literally thousands of different chemicals. Activated carbon is carbon which has a slight electro-positive charge added to it, making it even more attractive to chemicals and impurities. As the water passes over the positively charged carbon surface, the negative ions of the contaminants are drawn to the surface of the carbon granules. Make sure your company supplies a carbon filter along with your RO unit, and preferably activated carbon. Carbon ensures the most effective removal of organic compounds including VOCs (volatile organic compounds), radon and chlorine (including cancer-causing by-product trihalomethanes. An advantage is that carbon is very cost effective to use, but you will need to ensure the carbon block is replaced every 6 months at least.
Your kettle which you boil for your cup of tea or coffee will generally tell you how hard or soft the water is. A build up of scale on the heating element of your kettle will tell that you live in an area with plenty of minerals in the water. Have you noticed the flakes like the ones in the person’s hand in the image? Water filtered through a solid charcoal filter is slightly alkaline, which is great. If you want to go all out and have absolutely excellent quality water to drink, go for ozonation of this charcoal filtered water, which makes it ideal for daily drinking. Longevity is associated with the regular consumption of hard water (high in minerals), and research has revealed that those who live in areas of hard water (more minerals and scale in the kettle) have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who live in areas of softer water (low or no minerals)
Make sure your RO system is set up properly
Ensure the RO system is set up properly, my system was underpowered for a few years until I discovered that it was set up completely wrong! When I opened the water filter tap fully I used to get such poor pressure at the faucet, when in fact it should have been an excellent pressure. I had mixed up the hoses connecting the RO unit by mistake, and ended up causing a blockage which slowed down the flow of the unit considerably. When you install your unit – take your time, check out the diagrams very carefully and place the unit carefully in the kitchen. If you are not entirely confident then just get the person who supplied you the unit to install it for you.
Just remember, if you drink purified water daily, it pays to take that top quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement regularly.
Don’t like water? – then improve the flavor
Some patients have told me they don’t like water for its lack of taste. If you don’t like the taste of water, there are many options to add different flavours to the water. It is possible to have great taste and drink healthy too. Also, when you choose not to drink water, try to find a drink that has vitamins, minerals, and is low in trans-fats.
You don’t need these cheap and nasty lolly waters in your life, they are full of colours and sugars and are best avoided. This stuff is just assembly line made plastic bottled water with sugar added under high pressure. The colours and flavours are totally chemically derived. Carbonated drinks were the first to introduce carbon dioxide into the cheapest drink available (water) and by making the drink more acidic (carbonic acid) it became more enjoyable to the tongue when sweetened along with these bubbles. This carbonic acid tends to sharpen the flavour with a slight burning sensation. Being slightly more acidic, the drink is preserved somewhat longer as well.
Soda drinks also include diet soda and “sports” drinks too, they are best all avoided. Many people don’t realise how high the fat content is potentially in different beverages. For example, a mocha could have over 480 calories in one drink, and every gram of red wine is equal to 7 calories. So it is in your best interest to switch to healthier drinks, and stay away from the unhealthy beverages; by making the switch, you will reduce your calories and start loosing weight. So choose carefully what you habitually drink. And what about the caffeine content of carbonated ‘Energy Drinks” today? Children are consuming too much caffeine today, and energy drinks is one of the main ways they get their caffeine.
Why on earth do people drink so much of that fizzy stuff? It is full of artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives, not to mention sugar – real or artificial. Did you know that commercial beverages that people consume (i.e. cola beverages and other soft drinks) are made from ….distilled water? Studies have consistently shown that heavy consumers of soft drinks lose substantial amounts of calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals into the urine. A good way to wreck your health is to drink soda drinks every day, you will either end up obese or with a chronic illness like heart disease, diabetes or cancer. You will also contribute to making a large international company very rich as your health becomes very poor…
Here are some of my favourite healthy beverages
I love green tea, in fact I drink three cups every day. Green tea contains a rich concentration of flavonoids and polyphenols, natural antioxidants that may protect cells from carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and inhibit tumour growth by helping to neutralise free radicals in the body. Green tea helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, and cavities. The tea’s antioxidants may also guard against heart disease by relaxing blood vessels, inhibiting the formation of blood clots that trigger heart attacks and strokes. Green tea also contains fluoride (natural fluoride!), which strengthens teeth; green tea’s flavonoid content may build up bones as well, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and tooth decay.
Many travellers to the Pacific Islands have enjoy coconut water. Coconut water is among the purest liquids you will find in nature. This a pure health giving tonic and is full of natural electrolytes including potassium; and has various proteins and fats the body needs. I love it! And, it is great for upset tummies, and especially good to ward off bugs and parasites when you travel. This drink has been used for a long time as a nutritious refreshing drink. It has the nutrition found in milk without any animal fat, and it has the nutritional benefits of orange juice with out the sugars – the calories. In addition, it is full of vitamins and trace elements, and it has only 5mg of two natural sugars and nothing else compared to over 15 man made sugars, additives, colours and flavours and enhancers found in many sports drinks, for example.
If you are looking for a refreshing drink that is not only nutritious, and in addition helps to detoxify the digestive system then this drink has it all. Coconut milk from the fresh (green) coconut is best, but if you can’t access this then milk from the brown coconut will suffice.
What’s not to love about this drink? Have you ever tried skipping a cup of coffee and had a cup of warm cocoa instead? Research from a couple of years ago has revealed that chocolate may be actually good for you. Scientists reported preliminary evidence that cocoa and dark chocolate may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing, and your heart healthy because of its antioxidant abilities.
However, many people like to eat the processed form of chocolate with all the non nutritious ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup and milk fats; usually in a “family” bar, the actual cocoa content is less than 25 percent! When you buy a chocolate bar, get one with dark chocolate and high (75%+) cocoa content. And when you do, eat one or two squares a day, not the entire block!
For a healthy cocoa drink, try mixing pure cocoa with low fat milk. I like cocoa in rice or almond milk. So go on enjoy your chocolate, but do so in moderation!
Chocolate improves mood and may help protect against heart disease when consumed in moderation. Chocolate increases the production of the brain hormone called serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood. Low or fluctuating levels of serotonin have been associated with depression or mood swings. Cocoa is also a very rich source of polyphenols, which are plant-derived antioxidants that may protect cells against oxidative damage that can lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, possibly putting you at higher risk for a heart attack.
Tomato juice would have to be my favourite beverage, I love that tangy cold and refreshing taste, especially with a little Celtic sea salt and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Tomato juice may protect against numerous cancers, especially prostate cancer. Processed tomato products are the richest source of the antioxidant called lycopene, which has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate, lung and stomach cancer, as well as pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast, and cervical cancers. Lycopene also appears to protect the lungs and heart against oxidative damage, helping to ward off cardiovascular disease.
This is not only a great juice for the ladies to ward off urinary tract infections, cranberry juice has a very nice refreshing tart taste. Research suggests that the same antibacterial properties present in cranberry juice that fight off urinary tract infections may also protect against periodontal disease, and I now recommend this drink for those with gum disease too. I am very wary of cranberry juice however, because most all of the commercially available cranberry fruit juices have a considerable sugar content, so limit your intake to no more than one glass daily. “Make sure the label says 100 percent juice, not ‘juice drink’. You can find this type of juice in health-food stores and even in some supermarkets. Best served very cold, I love it on a hot day and pop a few ice cubes into the glass. Try also with a few mint leaves added for that extra zing.
1. Pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine are molecularly smaller than water, Binnie et al, 2002
- Airola, P. 1974. How To Get Well. Phoenix, AZ: Health Plus Publishers.
- Baroody, Dr. Theodore A. Jr. Alkalise or Die. California:Portal Books, 1995.
- Haas, Elson M. The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. Berkeley, California:Celestial Arts, 1992; p. 22.
- Rona, Zoltan P. and Martin, Jeanne Marie. Return to the Joy of Health, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1995.
- Rona, Zoltan P. Childhood Illness and The Allergy Connection. Rocklin, California:Prima Books, 1996.
Last article update: 24 March 2011