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Which Water Is Healthiest? Part 1: Tap water

Healthiest water

If you’ve been part of the Nourish community for a while, you know that food and healing are a passion of mine. I love educating about nutrition, whole foods, and sharing my favorite recipes.

I truly believe food and nutrition are foundational to true and lasting health.

However, there is one essential piece of the health puzzle I have neglected up until now….water.

Specifically, how to choose the cleanest, purest, healthiest type of water to support your well-being.

Why I waited so long to address this topic

The reason I’ve waited to broach the topic of water and water filtration is that it is controversial, misunderstood, and it can get technical and boring real FAST.

However, understanding what’s in our water supply (the good and the bad) and how to best purify it is vitally important to every aspect of healing.

Water makes up around 80% of our bodies, is crucial to detoxification, and is more essential to your livelihood than nutritious food.

Though our nation is blessed with a sanitary supply of drinking water, the processes, transportation systems, and chemicals used to sanitize it creates a chemical cocktail that is anything BUT life-giving.

Since water purity is such a big topic, we’re going to spread it out over two weeks and keep the information short, relevant, and easy to grasp.

In today’s post we will focus on the little-known pollutants and toxins found in city water (this goes far beyond chlorine and lead), plus I’ll show you a really cool free tool to help you find the best water filter.

Then in next week’s post we will tackle health concerns and solutions surrounding bottled water, whether or not you should filter your well water, and more water filtration recommendations.

But first…

You’ll never guess how many pollutants are lurking in your tap water…

It doesn’t take a doctor or scientist to tell you city water tastes (and smells) pretty darn gross.

The flavor of the chlorine alone is enough to drive most people to bottled or a filter pitcher.

But it’s not just chlorine you need to be concerned about.

City water usually comes from public water sources, like rivers and lakes grossly polluted with heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, raw sewage, motor oil, gasoline, PCBs, and notable traces of pharmaceuticals…but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

A study done by the Environmental Working Group, proved the average city water supply was tainted with over 300 pollutants…that’s BEFORE it goes through water treatment…where it is treated with more chemicals.

If you’ve ever wondered where to start eliminating toxins in your life, laying off tap water would be the best place to start.

You can view information on Austin’s drinking water contaminant levels here. The list of pollutants over safe limits is uninspiring to say the least—and we are in the top 10 best cities for water treatment. Yikes!

The 3 little-known water pollutants that worry me most

With over 300 to choose from it was tough to narrow the field to just 3.

However, though many people are conscious of filtering obvious toxins like chlorine and lead, there are 3 little-known classes toxins that should be of great concern.

1. Endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are man-made chemicals, such as plastics or pharmaceuticals that alter your body’s hormones.

This has become a significant public health concern, as endocrine disruptors can negatively impact child development and have been linked to chronic diseases in adults and children including types of cancer.

These nasty characters get into our drinking water via sewage, plastics (BPA), pesticide and herbicide run-off, personal care products, and a host of other environmental sources.

It takes a specific type of water filter to remove these endocrine disruptors, and I’ll have some recommendations for you below.

2. Heavy Metals—Recent events in Flint, MI served as a painful reminder of how lead in drinking water still impacts public health.

However, lead is one of several deadly heavy metals that are commonplace in our public water systems.

Heavy metals can cause a cascade of health issues ranging from brain damage and cognitive dysfunction, to organ failure and cancer.

And if you’re drinking tap water, 8 glasses a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year you can bet those heavy metals are slowly accumulating in your body.

Which heavy metals are of concern in public water? Hold onto your hats.

  • Arsenic—much of this comes from pesticide run-off. Arsenic doubles as an endocrine disruptor.
  • Mercury—much of this comes from industrial pollution that ends up in our lakes, soils, and streams.
  • Copper—many major cities replaced their lead pipes with copper, which is toxic to the body in large amounts.
  • Cadmium—though small amounts of cadmium occur naturally in water, excessive amounts from landfills have become a public health concern.
  • Fluoride—I know listing fluoride is controversial and many health-minded people choose to use fluoride-containing oral health products to protect their teeth. Fluoride is added to all US municipal drinking water to help prevent tooth decay and health experts tell us it’s safe.

However, I would humbly suggest this is not something you want to swallow with every drink of water you take.

Despite its prevalence in our toothpaste and water, fluoride was recently declared a neurotoxin by the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. And, in my opinion, should not be regularly ingested.

Though I am not a dentist and won’t lecture you on oral health products, I urge those on city water to consider filtering fluoride out.

How to purge vile toxins from your water

Now that you know what to watch out for, let’s look at the best ways to protect yourself from common toxins in your water.

If you want toxin-free water you have two options:

#1: Get it from an untainted spring or other source.

Or, if you don’t have one of those handy…

#2: Purchase a heavy duty water filtration system.

But with so many water filters out there ranging from $25-$10,000 and up, how is a person to choose?

I’ll make it easy for you with this free water filtration tool

The Environmental Working Group has an awesome tool you can use to find your perfect water filter.

Visit: EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide, type in your specifications including which toxins you want to remove, and view your results.

We’ll talk more about specific water filters in our next post, but for today I would encourage you to use the tool above and start doing some more of your own research.

Next week we’ll dive into everything you need to know about bottled water and well water plus more info on my favorite water filters.


-Dr. Alex