BY DR LYDIA THURTON
The crisis of lead contaminated water in Flynt, Michigan raises awareness of one of our most valuable resources. While Torontonians are fortunate to enjoy a plentiful and clean water supply, I often get questions about what water is best. From alkalinized to reverse osmosis, let’s discuss your best drinking water options and how to know if you are drinking enough.
How much water should you drink? Frankly, I don’t know. The six to eight glasses of water recommended is not supported by scientific research. I generally advise that you need enough water to have light, pale coloured, not stinky urine. Signs of chronic dehydration include, constipation, urinary tract infections, heart burn, headaches and feeling like your skin has lost its lustre and elasticity.
Growing up in a household that valued juice and soda over water, staying hydrated has always been an effort for me. When I do think to drink I guzzle, I don’t sip. Drinking carbonated water and infusing it with berries or cucumber helps. Herbal teas, juicing organic vegetables and coconut water also count and can make the drinking experience more interesting than just plain old H2O.
At least once a month I get questioned about alkalized water. The word alkaline is referring to how acidic the water is. People generally have a sense that acidic is bad, and that the opposite, alkaline must be good. In my opinion, alkalinized water is of no value. Your body maintains its acid base balance without much help. It doesn’t need special water to do this. Your stomach contains acid. When you mix an acid with something alkaline, you just create more water. While I agree that our modern diet creates a strain on our acid base balance, eating fruits and vegetables is the way to combat this, not expensive water.
Aquafina brand water, a Pepsi company, admitted last week that it’s water is sourced from public supply. In other words, Aquafina water is glorified tap water. Not exactly worth paying a premium for. I suspect Dasani is the same.
The “cleanest” water, the type with the least amount of particulate matter, minerals and contaminants are distilled and reverse osmosis (RO) water. I have had patients concerned that because this water does not contain minerals, it will leach calcium and magnesium from their bones. Not true. Water is not a major source of minerals, our food is. If you are looking for water that has chlorine and fluoride removed distilled or RO water is the way to go.
Distilled and RO water also eliminate another troubling substance. In 2014, tests of Southwestern Ontario water revealed drug particles were present. High blood pressure medications, antidepressants, diabetes drugs and birth control pills have all been detected in our water supply. Current filtration methods used for tap water are unable to remove the drug metabolites and there are no regulations that require routine testing.
Carbon filters, like Brita, are the best at removing harmful herbicides and pesticides from water, as well as chlorine by products found in tap water. These filters are also affordable and portable. Cheers!