Health & Happiness: Water is Life, Essential to Our Health and Well-being

By Jennifer Means, ND, LAC22 Singing River

Water is life. It brings the lush green to our land and, just as important, it is essential to our health and well-being. Water plays an important part in all our bodily functions and it can bring quick relief for many symptoms. Drinking water can relieve headaches, reduce kidney stones, ease bladder infections and cure constipation. When I wake, I drink a pint of water every morning to soothe my dry eyes.

Yet, many people are concerned about our drinking water. Cryptosporidium, which has been found in the Bull Run water shed, is an amoeba that can infect the intestines and cause symptoms ranging from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to more extreme bloating and diarrhea, especially in those with compromised immune systems.

In the Portland/Metro area we have increased lead levels—which can cause learning disabilities and adversely affect cognitive levels in children—amoebas, chlorine and other volatile organic chemicals (VOC) that have some health risks. And in Beaverton our water contains fluoride which some people prefer not to imbibe.

Many people buy bottled water to solve this problem. But is this really a good solution? Not only is it expensive, but the regulation standards are the same for bottled water as for tap water. Even worse, plastic bottles leach harmful chemicals which have significant health impacts into the water. The bottles also create a huge amount of waste and take centuries to decompose.

So what’s the best way to get healthy drinking water? I recommend water filters. Of course, the quality of water depends on the filter you buy.

Gravity based granulated pitcher filters remove chlorine, asbestos, amoebic cysts and most lead. They improve the taste of the water and are inexpensive to buy, but, in the long run, are not as cost effective as higher quality filtration systems. Their filters need to be changed every 2-3 months in order to be effective. Furthermore, they are slow and inconvenient if you want to cook with filtered water.

Carbon block systems that filter down to the 1 micron or less remove almost all contaminants. Attached to your faucet or water line, they filter fast, providing plenty of water for cooking and hydrating the humans, animals and plants. Although the systems and filters are initially expensive, the cost per cup is far less than bottled water or even pitcher filters.

Reverse osmosis systems were originally made to convert salt water into drinking water. If combined with a carbon block filter, they are probably the most effective at removing contaminants. On the downside, they are expensive, waste a great deal of water and remove desirable minerals as well. Some systems will replace the lost mineral content.

Large gravity fed filtration systems with ceramic and carbon block filters are probably the best on the market for effective filtration and low cost. The filters can be washed and reused for a number of years. However, they take up a fair amount of space, filtration is slow and, depending on the filters you use, they may not remove volatile organic chemicals.

If you are investing in a water filtration system, look for one that removes 99.9% of VOC, parasites, cysts, bacteria and heavy metals.  Check the Water Bureau’s website to see the contaminants in your local water. Then you can decide which type of filter is right for you.

Dr. Jennifer Means & Dr. Elizabeth Elliott welcome you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, Acupuncture. For more information, contact us at 503-641-6400