It’s common knowledge that drinking water has tremendous health benefits. After all, our bodies are 60 percent water and water comprises about 85 percent of our brain. Water also:
- Serves as a natural appetite suppressant
- Serves as a joint lubricant
- Maintains the integrity of of skin and muscle
- Boosts the the body’s metabolism
- Regulate body temperature
- Keeps the digestive system in working order
- Transports nutrients throughout the body
So what happens to you when you don’t drink enough water? At 2 percent dehydration, we lose 20 percent mental capacity! The toxins that should be eliminated from your system get recirculated through your body. Chronic dehydration will cause your skin to be dry, toxins will cause breakouts, and overall your skin will appear unhealthy.
Severe dehydration can cause muscle spasms, exhaustion, excessive body temperature, heat stroke, and even death. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Early signs of dehydration are fatigue, loss of appetite, and loss of body weight. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
So how much water should you drink? Most sources recommend 8 glasses a day, but that’s not entirely correct. It really depends on several variables. Do you live at a high altitude or dry climate? Are you pregnant? Lactating? Male or female? How much do you exercise? How much do you weigh? Use this free water calculator to find out how much water you should be drinking.
Okay, we’ve established that water is essential to good health. The question now is where should we get our water. So what exactly is the difference between the various types of water? Tap water is usually river water, and although this type of water has a lot of contaminants and pollutants to start with, it is put through a variety of cleaning processes before it enters the home.
Well water comes straight from the ground, although it doesn’t go through the same cleaning process. The water is filtered naturally as it slowly trickles from the surface into underground reservoirs.
The biggest complaint about tap water is that it often arrives in our homes smelling strongly of chlorine. Just because it’s safe doesn’t mean it tastes very good. Nor does it mean the water is pure. Water from municipal sources often contains minerals that will give the water an unpleasant look, taste, or smell and may have undesired effects on your dishes, laundry and hair.
While it may cost a bit more, there are filters and additives you can get for your water that will make it look and taste better. There are several types of filters:
- Carbon filters – consist of activated carbon or charcoal that remove chlorine, organic compounds, pesticides, benzne and radon
- Ion exchange filters – contain resins that attract heavy metals
- Reverse osmosis – aka hyper-filtration; passes water under high pressure through a membrane with microscopic pores that filter out single ions
Some experts say the treatment solutions are as dangerous as the contaminants. Sometimes, even when treated, the water may become polluted in the distribution system before reaching your home. There are several organizations involved in checking city water and making sure it’s safe for you and your family, but if you doubt the safety of your water, you can have it tested to ensure its quality and safety.
Just as safe water might smell or taste bad, conversely, unsafe water may smell, look, and taste perfectly fine. There are many dangerous chemicals found in well water that have no taste or smell, and do not change the look of the water. In fact, there are a few that will make your water look and taste cleaner or more pleasant. Unless you go through the process of having your water tested, there is no way to guarantee well water is safe or free of bacteria and other dangerous chemicals.
Some people decide to give up on the whole well versus tap water debate altogether and just drink bottled. There are different kinds of bottled water as well:
- Spring water – must come from underground
- Artesian water – similar to spring water, but probably deeper underground and comes to the surface without pumping
- Distilled water – boiled water recaptured as steam; no minerals, chemicals, or bacteria
- Purified water – can be simple tap water than has been distilled
- Vitamin-rich, oxygenated, and enriched water – novelty water; minute amounts of vitamins or minerals added
- Flavored water – water and flavor from natural or artificial sweeteners
While bottled water usually does taste better, it doesn’t have to go through the same purity tests that tap water does. Also, manufacturers may overstate claims. In fact, if your bottled water has gone through the same cleaning and testing process, it’s likely because it actually is just city water. On top of that, the bottles add unnecessary waste to local landfills.
If you’re facing the decision between well or tap water, taste and safety are not the only issue you’re considering in your decision. One of the biggest factors in making the switch is usually cost. Bringing in water from the local municipality requires changing the pipes in and around your house.
Keep in mind that there is a global water crisis. As demand for fresh water soars, politicians are making decisions about its use. Golf courses, farms, and cities all compete for this finite resource. Whatever water source you choose, stay abreast of the issues and make eco-conscious decisions.