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Which Water is Healthiest? Part 2: Well Water and Bottled Water

Which water is the healthiest

I’m back with part 2 of “Which Water is Healthiest”.

In Part 1, I focused on why and how to clean up your tap water for vastly improved health.

In today’s post, I’ll focus in on well water, bottled water, plus tips on choosing the best water filter brand.

Should well water be filtered?

If you have a well you are blessed to have no fluoride, no chlorine, and no other chemicals added to your water. Yay!

However… you should still be filtering your well water.

Why?

Thanks to the industrial era and modern agriculture, wells are vulnerable to many of the same toxins, chemicals, pesticides, petroleum products, and other unsavory pollutants found in municipal water supplies.

And because the government doesn’t regulate the safety of private wells, it is up to you to do your homework and make sure your water stays pollutant-free.

Let’s take a look at some toxins found in groundwater that could be lurking in your well.

Common (and uncommon) contaminants in well water

According to the CDC, well water can be become contaminated by naturally-occurring chemicals and minerals, local land use practices (such as agricultural pesticide use, confined animal feeding operations, and meat processing plants), and malfunctioning of waste water treatment facilities.

Here’s the list direct from the CDC website:

  • Arsenic
  • Copper
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Campylobacter
  • E. coli
  • Enterovirus
  • Giardia
  • Hepatitis A
  • Lead
  • Nitrate
  • Norovirus
  • Radon
  • Rotavirus
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella

Based on what we learned in last week’s post about the prevalence of heavy metals in public drinking water, it stands to logic (and has been proven through testing) that other heavy metals can wind up in well water too.

Health issues surrounding excess minerals

We mentioned naturally-occurring minerals above, and all wells have a different mineral profile based on their location.

Minerals are a GOOD thing and are essential to our health and well-being, I mean we pay extra for mineral water and minerals supplements, right?

The concern in wells is with an imbalanced excess of one or more minerals, as that can cause a mineral imbalance in the body leading to a cascade of health concerns.

Radon and arsenic are an obvious concern, but many don’t know that an excess of copper can cause gastrointestinal issues and too much calcium can lead to kidney stones.

If excess minerals are a concern in your well, a water softener may be in order PLUS a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration system.

I’ll go into this a more coming right up.

The easy method for choosing a filter for your well

First, you need to test your well water to find out what’s in it.

Before you order a test, contact your local health department to ask which local contaminants to test for (some states will provide you with free testing depending on your location’s conditions).

Next, you can order a DIY testing kit or hire someone to do it for you.

There are a variety of tests to choose from, but I’d strongly suggest testing beyond the basics (coliform bacteria, nitrates, local contaminants) for heavy metals, pesticides, minerals, and inorganic compounds.

Once you know what you need to filter out choosing the best filter is easy.

Tips on the best water filter brands

In Part 1 on tap water, I shared the Environmental Working Group’s Water Filter Buying Guide, which serves as an excellent tool for well water too as it lets you “filter” your results by specific pollutants.

As mentioned above, if you have excess minerals in your water a Reverse Osmosis Filter could be a great choice.

RO filters strip out nearly all contaminants, including minerals, leaving you with crystal clear water. Note: If you have excess calcium you will probably need a water softening system as well.

If you do go with an RO filter, it is good idea to re-mineralize your water with a balanced trace mineral supplement.

I have also heard great things from my patients and colleagues about the following water filter brands:

  • The Berkey Water Filtration Systems are a favorite among the Functional Medicine community. They are are stand-alone portable devices, come in a variety of sizes, are 100% stainless steel, they take out all the bad stuff (including endocrine disruptors), and can even filter rain water.
  • Aquasana has many endorsements from integrative MDs, and offer a variety of filtration systems and water softeners to choose from.

Now, onto bottled water…

Why you should ditch bottled water (and what to do instead)

In my opinion, one of the biggest issues surrounding bottled water, health wise, is: plastic.

The chemicals found in plastic bottles leach into the water.

This includes BPA of course, but also lesser known toxins such as BPS have been found to be just as harmful as the BPA they were engineered to replace!

Why? Plastics act as hormone-mimicking endocrine disruptors just like those found in our municipal water systems.

So, one could argue that you’re not doing yourself (or the environment) any favors by choosing bottled water over tap.

The bottled water industry is also highly unregulated. Case in point, according to a recent German study reported in Prevention magazine, 1 bottle of water can contain over 24,500 chemicals.

No matter how you slice it or doctor it up, bottled water in plastic is NOT healthy for you.

What to drink instead when traveling or out and about

Take your filtered water with you using a glass or stainless steel water bottle.

Wow, we covered a lot in this series on “Which Water is Healthiest?”, but I wanted to make sure you had all the information needed to make the best water choices for your family.

I said in part 1, water is more essential to your livelihood than nutritious food. But, when you combine pure, chemical-free water with nutritious foods and supplements, you are arming your body with everything it needs for optimal well-being.

Cheers to healthy hydration for all!

-Dr. Alex