After a toxic holiday season, it is time for us to cleanse—and the best way to do so is to drink lots of water.
But are all types of water created equal? Which is most beneficial?
Christine E.V. Gonzalez is a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine whose practice spans 25 years. She has doctorate degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Natural Medicine, and is also a Fellow of the American Naturopathic Oncology.
I asked her about water and its benefits.
“Water is not only the most essential substance next to oxygen; we need water to exist, and pure water to live,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
“Seventy percent of our body weight is water, and 92 percent of our bodily processes need enough water to perform properly. Without sufficient water, metabolic processes, nutrient transport, immune factor transport, waste removal simply cannot occur. Yet, just drinking water does not necessarily insure rehydration, if the type of water is not easily absorbed into the tissues.
“Without water, every cell in our body begins to shrink and shrivel. Blood cannot flow, which leads to less than adequate oxygen available for muscles to keep working. Dehydration can start within 5-6 hours of being without water. Within 24 hours, your body can be severely dehydrated.
“Overeating (fats, sugar and salt) and binge drinking (alcohol, caffeine)—all these also cause dehydration. The best remedy is to flush them out with pure water.
“There’s more to choose from than simply tap versus bottled water,” adds Dr. Gonzalez.
Tap vs bottled water
“Plain old tap water is convenient, coming right out of your kitchen faucet. However, as most of us have heard, most tap water is contaminated with a host of pollutants—chlorine, arsenic, aluminum, pesticides and herbicides—that can adversely affect your health and that of your family.”
Some go for distilled water, but this should be used with caution, says Dr. Gonzalez.
“The process of distillation evaporates away the minerals. The water then becomes acidic and seeks to balance itself by drawing minerals right out of your body. It will also draw out contaminants from the container it’s stored in.
“What’s worse, any contaminant in the water that vaporizes at a lower temperature than the water, such as volatile organic compounds, like disinfection byproducts that are thousands of times as toxic as chlorine, will be condensed and actually concentrated in the finished distilled water.
“I recommend using distilled water only for a short period and only for detoxification, as this water can help pull toxins from your body. Drinking it long-term, however, will most likely invite health problems,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
Then there’s alkaline water, which poses its own problems.
“Detoxification is about the only benefit of alkaline water, and this benefit is limited to very short-term use, ideally not more than a week or two. Another concern is that many individuals have stomach dysfunction like GERD or ulcers that are largely related to having too little stomach acid.
“Long-term use of alkaline or ionized water can interfere with your body’s natural digestive process by reducing the acid needed to properly break down and absorb food. This could lead to an imbalance of your body’s good bacteria, which then can open the door to parasitic infection, ulcers and malabsorption,” Dr. Gonzalez notes.
How about mineral water?
“Ninety to ninety-five percent of bottled water and refilling stations in the Philippines use reverse osmosis, a process that removes 98-99 percent of whatever is in the water. To claim mineral water, they have to add minerals. I do not believe in adding minerals, because I do not know what the source is. Real mineral water is really from springs,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
Vitamin water, meanwhile, “often contain dangerous high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, additives, preservatives and caffeine. What’s even worse is these manufacturers often use distilled water to make their products, which, as you’ve read above, is one of the worst types of water you can put into your body.”
“If you’re planning to switch from soda to vitamin water because you believe it to be a healthier choice, you may be disappointed to know that it is no better than unhealthy soda,” Dr. Gonzalez points out.
The quality of water we consume will set the tone for a healthier body. But what are our options?
“The most economical and environmentally sound choice you and your family can make is to purchase and install a water filter in your home,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
“In choosing the right type of water for you and your family, you want to aim for pH balance. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline. The ideal pH of your water should be between 6.5 to 7.5.
“Mountain spring water is in this ideal range. It is some of the healthiest water on the planet because it is ‘living water.’ Living water, like ‘living food,’ is in its raw, natural state the way nature intended,” Dr. Gonzalez explains.
Next, how much water should we drink?
“Drink 1/2 oz of water per one pound of body weight,” advises Dr. Gonzalez. “If you are outside on a hot day or engaging in strenuous activity, increase your water intake. It is also important to note that, as we age, our thirst mechanism works less efficiently.”
Also, drinking water in the morning upon waking up is good for the body. It balances our lymph system, which regulates metabolism and aids in the distribution of nutrients and elimination of waste.
Water also helps purge toxins from the blood, helping keep our skin clear and glowing. It likewise helps maintain healthy weight.
Drinking two glasses of water with a few drops of lemon juice in the morning boosts our body’s metabolism by least 24 percent. Water also increases the production of new blood and muscle cells, and drinking water on an empty stomach purifies the colon and cleanses the kidneys.
“Our choice of the source of drinking water is probably the most important decision we make for our present and our future health,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
Dr. Gonzalez also took her continuing education in Biotechnology and Stem Cell/Regenerative Biology at the Harvard Extension School.
Before setting up the Wellness Institute, Manila in 2001, she had her practice in two clinics in Silicon Valley, California, and maintains patients in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Guam, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sweden, Russia and Spain.