Think your tap water is perfectly fine to drink? Think again.
Ok, so maybe that statement is a little harsh, but there are certainly pros and cons to drinking water straight from the tap, compared to say, drinking bottled mineral water or filtered water.
According to Healthline, the US has one of the safest public water systems. It is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets legal limits for the number of contaminants that can be in public water for it to be deemed ‘safe’.
But, safe doesn’t necessarily mean optimal. In order for the water that comes out of your tap to be stripped of its contaminants, some chemicals may need to be added. Some people believe these chemicals are not good for your gut health. Also, because tap water is stripped of minerals, it doesn’t necessarily pose any real health benefits (other than, you know, that pesky little thing, hydration).
So, what other options do you have? Well, according to health hacker Dave Asprey, mineral water is the way to go. Taking to Instagram, Dave tells us he drinks bottled mineral water because it (unsurprisingly) contains minerals.
He goes on to say, “there are studies that show that people who get more minerals and people who drink mineral water, live longer because our current food supply and all the chemicals in our food are depleting minerals in our body.”
“Your body needs minerals to make enzymes. Enzymes allow chemical reactions inside your cells to happen with less energy than just physical chemistry would predict. That means if you’re missing a mineral, your body isn’t able to do what it’s meant to do.”
“I’m getting sulfur, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals that are in mineral water.”
While it should be common knowledge, as a quick biology lesson, your body needs a number of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. The NCCIH says the minerals we need include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron and zinc, to name a few.
If your levels of any of these minerals are low, you can take supplements, but if you can get them from natural sources first, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. The same goes for essential vitamins. The majority of these can be found in food sources, but some, such as vitamin B12, can only be found in red meat, so those on a plant-based diet will need to take vitamins in order to keep their levels healthy.
Mineral water can be obtained directly from an outdoor source (where it will still likely undergo some filtration to remove impurities) or minerals can be added back into water in order to raise its mineral content.
Indeed, Healthline agrees with Dave’s comments, claiming that drinking mineral water can help promote bone health due to it being a good source of calcium, adding, “in fact, studies have shown that your body can absorb calcium from mineral water as effectively as – if not better than – calcium from dairy products.”
Mineral water can also help to lower blood pressure because the calcium and magnesium it contains help to alleviate high blood pressure (something that is caused by a lack of these two minerals).
As with virtually any subject on health, there are some potential drawbacks to drinking mineral water. The main one is its environmental impact, more so because mineral water is most commonly bottled in plastic bottles.
For starters, there is the theory that microplastic content can build up in the water because the water absorbs it from the packaging. Healthline Adds the long-term health effects of microplastics are still unknown, but animal studies indicate a large build-up can increase inflammation.
Ideally, you’d want to drink mineral water from a glass bottle if possible.
Mineral water is just one of the many types of water that can bring health benefits. If you don’t want to spend extra on buying bottles of it, or you want to reduce your environmental impact by refusing to buy plastic bottles (this is where tap water can be good, because it has a low environmental impact) then you can Introduce your own water filtration system at home.
These water filters can come in various sizes and fall into various budgets. One of the most convenient types of water filter screws onto the end of your tap, and will then filter out chlorine, metals, bacteria and any microplastic content. If you want to get super serious with your water at home, you can invest in a machine such as Kangen. In fact, one user even comments on Dave’s Instagram post, asking him to share his thoughts on Kangen water.
Kangen is essentially its own name for a type of water produced by a range of machines, manufactured by Enagic. Kangen machines can convert tap water into acidic or alkaline water by a method known as electrolysis. Using Kangen machines allows you to select the pH level of the water, so you can select pH 9.5 for safe drinking water, or more acidic water for disinfecting surfaces around the house, for example.
Kangen machines aren’t what you would consider ‘cheap’, but they’re claimed not only result in health benefits through the water you drink but lifestyle benefits too- improved hydration, thicker hair, greater mental clarity, for example.
There is a whole world of information for you to discover surrounding the various health benefits of drinking different types of water. The key takeaway here though is that you should really be questioning the water you drink out of a tap. It might be safe, but it might not actually be good.