What’s one thing that everyone needs but usually doesn’t take? Water. I’m just as guilty as you are, too! How is it that a couple cups of coffee goes down sooo smooth but a few cups of water – can be a challenge some days!
Today I’m not here to tell how to drink more water.. I’ve already done that over here on this post 😉
However, I will be covering the “good-better-best” when it comes to water quality and if that’s even important where you live?!
Before we get started I also asked all of YOU what questions you had about water- and those answers will be woven throughout here! However, a few of my favourites were…
- WHY is water wet?..
- HOW much is too much water?..
- IS water wet?..
Soo let’s get these ones out of the way first!
So… is water wet? And if so.. why?? Well, water is not wet. Wet means being covered or saturated with a liquid. Water is water. Wet, is an adjective (which can be a description for water) while water is a noun. However, the real question is what does it MEAN to be wet? Or what IS wet?
We generally associate water with FEELING wet due to its chemical structure of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O), resulting in a liquid state. However, depending on the level of heat applied to H20, the structure can change to a solid or gas state. This means that water can also FEEL hard, steamy or maybe nothing at all- depending on the type of water we’re referring to!
This raises another awareness about how our thoughts can shape our reality…
Have you ever noticed that you can’t feel ‘wet’ if you hold your hand perfectly still while under water? And yet, nothing has actually changed with the water itself, only with our thoughts, feelings and perception of the water. It’s an interesting concept to sit with when thinking about how our thoughts can physically shape our reality, when the chemical structure of our reality hasn’t actually changed. Although we associate water with being ‘wet’, it isn’t necessarily always liquid so although it can feel wet, it can also feel hard, hot, cold, thick and more depending on the structured state that it is in as well as our perception around the feeling of that state.
“We are not our emotions [feelings]. We are not even this body. We are what we DO with them.”
This is a fun exercise you can practice by yourself or with anyone at any age! It can help get the senses heightened, improve motor skill function and assist with rewiring the brain. Like the hand under water experiment, mentioned above, try closing your eyes (or trying both ways- keeping them closed first and then open perhaps) and play with the different states/structures of water to see what you notice. What sensations, thoughts, experiences come to be? Try not to force or overanalyze- sit with it and let the sensations come to you. Discuss with your child, partner or journal about your experience. Some suggestions could be: bowls of water with different temperatures, moving your hand fast vs slow vs not at all under water, holding different ice cube shapes, physically swimming/playing in water, drinking/tasting different temperatures of water, etc.
Okay, now onto the other fun stuff.. who knew there was so much to know about water?? Grab a glass because you’re going to need it!
WHO NEEDS IT (*hint* – it’s everyone)
In case you haven’t heard, water is essential for life. It can also be associated with headaches/migraines, fatigue, depression/anxiety, skin issues, inflammation, slow muscle recovery, joint issues, cravings, struggle with weight loss, poor digestion, and constipation- just to name a few!
No matter what age you’re at, water will always be necessary in order to have all of the systems working optimally in the body. If you’re struggling with any of the above, definitely check out my Top 10 Ways to Increase your H20 intake HERE – or reach out to book a free 15 minute consultation to discuss more here.
Below is a good average to work with depending on your age. Remember, your don’t have to get ALL of your cups from drinking water- see the tips above for more options. For Babies/Toddlers, it’s generally recommended to have 1 cup per day per age (ex: 1 year – 1 cup, 2 yr – 2 cup, etc.):
|children 4–8 years old||5 cups|
|children 9–13 years old||7–8 cups|
|children 14–18 years old||8–11 cups|
|men, 19 years and older||13 cups|
|women, 19 years and older||9 cups|
|pregnant women||10 cups|
|breastfeeding women||13 cups|
The adult body is at least 60% water but is more than 80% as a fetus and is surrounded by an ocean-like water of amniotic fluid (so mamas, you REALLY need that water!). Keep in mind that your water intake will fluctuate daily depending on the environment that you are in. Some examples that greatly affect the amount of water we require are:
- the type of foods we eat (think more processed = more water, less processed and more whole foods = less water),
- the type of liquids we drink (the more caffeine/sugar you drink, the thirstier you will feel),
- the amount of stress our body is in (mentally, physically, emotionally, environmentally, socially and even spiritually can all affect it),
- how well our bodily systems are functioning– especially the urinary, digestive and lymphatic systems (however EVERY system requires adequate water to function optimally),
- how much activity or energy we exert (I’m looking at YOU athletes! Adequate water is essential for optimal recovery),
- the temperature that our body is in (ex: physical location in the universe and body temp),
- if we are dealing with any injuries, recoveries, pregnancies, etc.
#FunFact: According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.
WHAT to look for
Water doesn’t need to be complicated. Unfortunately, it can seem confusing and overwhelming with all these options – what happened to just simple water?!
Well, it still exists! Sort of.. Pure (100%) water doesn’t actually exist naturally on our planet. (whaaa?!) All water on this planet will have some sort of minerals, toxins, etc. in it. We can distill water and remove all the extra substances from the water however, put simply, the Earth’s water is in crisis – both nutritionally and ecologically. What is happening to our water is simple: it is Drying Up, Getting Diverted, and Becoming Toxic. (Haas 14-16)
And depending on where you live, clean, safe, drinking water may be very hard to come by- even when we’re talking about tap water. This article will be very dependent on your location however, I try to give a variety of information and options to work with. I am blessed to live on Vancouver Island in BC so I will primarily be referring to that area.
Did You Know: Studies in Sweden have shown that if everyone in that country were to drink water with the highest naturally occurring magnesium levels death from heart tacks would drop by about 19%?!
There is a lot of scary stuff in our water these days. And rightly so, there’s a lot of scary chemicals floating around out there, too! After all, all we can do is up-cycle and recycle the water, air and life that we consume. So it is best to be as minimal as we can with our consumables so that we are not adding even more unnecessary toxins into our environment.
A few contaminants that we need to be mindful of (in our drinking water including municipal and well water) are micro-organisms, disinfectants, disinfectant by-products, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals and radio-nucleotides. Some examples are: pharmaceuticals, lead, copper, chlorine, arsenic, nitrates, radioactive substances, fluoride, mercury and of course, pathogens- just to name a few. (check resources below for laws/water quality)
Tap Water: Most tap water comes from groundwater or surface reservoirs. This water gets tested regularly and can go through extensive local treatment facilities. These facilities will filter out what is necessary and add in other chemical compounds that they deem necessary for purification. Some controversial topics are Aluminum, Fluoride and Chlorine – although they can help keep pathogens at bay, they can also harm people and cause allergies, dehydration, neurological issues and more. Some municipalities use them, some don’t- research yours to find out. Other contaminants to be aware of is: Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Nitrates, Radon, Agricultural Chemicals (pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers/etc.) and natural pollutants. If you choose to filter your tap water, ensure you get the right filter for your municipality.
Well Water: I am 100% bias to well water – I LOVE it! It primarily comes from groundwater supplies (although some use rain barrells as well) and it is generally very mineral rich, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you care for it and what filtration system you use. Well water will have naturally occurring sources of beneficial minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and calcium. However, it can also have the same harmful chemicals listed above (Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Nitrates, Radon, Pesticides, Herbicides, Fertilizers and natural pollutants. Most people will have an in-house filtration system to filter out any debris/materials as well as a UV and/or chemical filter as well as regular testing.
I will say that I have lived in a lot of areas with different types of what/filter systems and out of ALL of them, my ferments have LOVED it every time I’ve been on well water!
Springwater: Springwater is very similar to well water as it is the “natural” water found in surface or underground springs. Depending on where it is sourced, the water may be ‘harder’ (high in minerals) or ‘softer’ (low in minerals) than the other. This is generally why a lot of people prefer bottled water that is from Canada/Alaska or “natural springs” as it truly does taste fresher! A lot of bottled water companies will collect water this way and aside from disinfecting (such as using chlorine) it is usually not processed.
Mineral Water: If you think about it, all water is mineral water. However when referring to ‘mineral water’ we are generally referring to ‘natural sparkling water‘ which contains high minerals as well as naturally occurring CO2 (carbon dioxide). Companies that bottle this mineral water will add the CO2 back to the mineral water as the carbonation is easily lost during the process. These carbonated beverages have definitely been the crave these past few years so I thought I’d dive in quickly to decipher the differences! Mineral water (or natural sparkling water) is a bit different than Seltzers which are usually filtered/distilled water with carbonation added and different than Club Soda which is usually filtered/distilled water with the carbonation AND minerals added back to it. Tonic Water is a bit different as it is filtered/distilled water with quinine, carbonation and sometimes sugar/minerals added back to it.
Although these low/no-sugar beverages are a GREAT alternative to sugary drinks, pops or alcohol, it is important to note that carbon dioxide can get into the blood and affect the acid-alkaline balance (which our body is great at handling ) however it can cause a strain on certain functions such as the kidney/filtration and respiration systems. High carbonated beverage consumption has also been linked with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones, all risk factors for chronic kidney disease.
Filtered Water: Filtering is essential for most water these days unless you have access to a safe fresh source. I’ll dive more into my favourite type of filtration options below however, this is also a big rabbit hole to go down! There are soo many things we can filter out as well as sooo many things that we can add back in! So it really depends on: where you live, what your home/work/lifestyle is like (and the practicality of what maintenance you can keep up with), if you are looking for a POU (point-of-use) or POE (point-of-entry) filter, what you want filtered out and if you want anything added back in. Some ways to filter are:
- Best: UV Treatment with debris filter, Activated Carbon, Solid Carbon Block or Reverse Osmosis. Generally the UV and carbon filters are the most common and economical as they do not use as much supplies/water. However it is important to note that most carbon filters should not be used with hot water as it can cause contaminant release. You can get straws, single-use, handheld, fridge, counter or in-home systems but research the right fit for you. (see my notes below)
- Better: Using a pump filter and boiling water or making a homemade fruit peel filter for remote areas. At sea level, boiling water for 1 minute will kill bacteria and parasite’s; boil 10 minutes to destroy viruses. For every 1,000 ft elevation, add 1 minutes to the boiling time to clean the water of possible germs. Example: 10,000 ft must be boiled for 10-20 minutes, depending on your concerns.
- Good: Chemical or tablet filters for portable or emergency uses. Ideally, these are great for long-term-storage because they last a long time due to the chemical state of them but they are not ideal for every day use and are generally a last resource for me.
Distilled Water: Distilled water is essentially “pure” water. It goes through a high-heated process, vaporizing it which removes everything such was minerals, organisms and chemicals- everything except volatile organic chemicals (VOC xylene). Because distilled water contains no minerals, it tends to attract minerals (and toxins) to balance with the other body fluids. For this reason, drinking distilled water is generally not recommended as it can leach minerals from the body and/or cause mineral deficiencies. However, this is why using distilled water for herbal extractions or medicines can be so beneficial as it may help bring out the most in the medicinal properties.
Travellers Water: I travel A LOT – and not so much internationally, but a lot of camping, backpacking and semi-off-griding. For that reason, I know how sacred water is! Fresh sources are essential and if you don’t have it then you need to have a backup plan. For backpacking I like to use a variety of: single-use filters that I can put in my water bottle and fill up anywhere, life straws, small hand-held pumps, UV filter for water bottle, boiling water and chemical tablets if absolutely necessary (I have only ever used them once and did not enjoy it!). When traveling abroad I will bring a single-travel filter that can fit into my water bottle as well as boiling water, avoiding ice cubes/unsafe beverages, buying large water bottles if absolutely necessary and/or another one of the back-up filter options listed above. If you only have access to sea water then desalination is the process of removing salt from seawater, making it drinkable. This is done either by boiling the water and collecting the vapor (steam) or by pushing it through special filters (membrane or osmosis). Research this method before using.
WHAT TO CHOOSE
The goal is to keep it as close to its natural sate as possible so that it works in harmony with us and mother earth. Keep it fresh and ideally filtered in some way to ensure it is safe to drink. If you’re able to keep it local then that is a huge bonus.
- BEST: Water straight from the source (rain barrel, river, well, etc.) using the appropriate filtration system for that area if necessary and storing/using in safe reusable containers.
- BETTER: Filtered water from the tap by either letting the water sit on the counter for 24hrs (to allow the chlorine to evaporate) or by using a store-bought filtration system that is appropriate for the area (if necessary). Storing and using in safe reusable containers- things that are BPA free, stainless steel, glass or ceramic is ideal.
- GOOD: Tap water or a bottle service (such as ordering or buying large bottles of water that can be returned/refunded/refilled). Stored and used in safe reusable containers- ideally BPA free.
- WORST: Small individual water bottles of any kind. Always opt for safe tap water over plastic water bottles! For a VARIETY of health reasons (think about how long that water has been sitting in that plastic bottle and the different temperatures it has gone through to get to you- plus sometimes the random unnecessary ingredients? Why do all bottled waters taste different? Yuck!) but also for the ENVIRONMENTAL reasons! Most of us have access and ways where we can generally avoid using single plastic water bottles. If you are STILL buying individual bottled water I HIGHLY encourage you to look into a different way to consume your water- for your health and the planets 🙏🏼
WHEN the optimal time to drink it – and how you’ll know
Of course, the most optimal time to drink it is when you’re thirsty! However when you’re thirsty- it’s already too late. Your body is dehydrated. Thankfully, there are signs leading up to this point and ways to prevent it.
Signs to look for:
- Pee: if you are peeing less than 4 times a day, you may not be drinking enough. However, if you are peeing more than 8 times a day you may be drinking TOO much! The best way to tell is how your pee looks and smells. We want a nice light yellow with minimal to no smell – not clear (to much water) and not a dark strong smelling yellow (not enough water/dehydrated). Certain supplements/food may also affect the look/smell so be mindful of that when checking!
- Digestion: if you are experiencing constipation or digestive upset you may not be drinking enough water to properly assist the excretion process. Likewise, if you are drinking too much water you could cause digestive issues or possibly diarrhea!
- Mood: fatigue, depression, anxiety and feeling dizzy, tired, sluggish or lightheaded may be signs of dehydration, especially with chronic symptoms.
- Body: experiencing irregular sleeping patterns, dry mouth/lips/skin/eyes and sweating less than usual may also be signs of dehydration. Likewise, sweating or peeing excessivley may be a sign of drinking too much water.
- TOO much: however, a lot of the symptoms for dehydration (such as headaches, sometimes vomiting and digestive issues) may be from drinking too much water! When you drink too much water, the kidneys can’t excrete the excess liquid causing internal discomfort. The best way to know is to be mindful of the smell/colour and aim for balance/moderation.
- Less processed, more whole foods
- Less caffeine, more herbal and quality water
- Regular exercise– not too much and not too little
- Healthy water habits: drink quality water; avoid water right before or during meals – try to drink it between meals so that you do not affect the digestive juices; always drink a glass of water upon rising (bonus if it has lemon in it); drink small amounts throughout the day; slow and steady wins the race – avoiding chugging water and take small sips/swish around in the mouth before swallowing; avoid too hot and too cold of water – lukewarm or room temperature is generally best for easy and optimal absorption.
- Awareness: to your bodies state of stress (physical, mental, environmental, etc.) and any signs/symptoms it may be expressing. Your body speaks if you are willing to listen- what is it try to tell you?
Luckily, there are A LOT of great options out there these days! Some that are free, low cost or super fancy and higher price (but generally great long-lasting quality and easy-to-use!) A few of my favourite ways to filter are:
- LOW COST/NO COST: Filling a glass pitcher and placing it on the counter to allow the chlorine to evaporate and/or boiling the water to kill other bacteria. At sea level, boiling water for 1 minute will kill bacteria and parasite’s; boil 10 minutes to destroy viruses. For every 1,000 ft elevation, add 1 minutes to the boiling time to clean the water of possible germs. Some companies such as LifeStraw, Brita, PUR and Santevia offer a variety of low-cost and single use items
- AFFORDABLE: My favourite handheld filter systems are definitely Santevia and Brita however there are some great large bottled (like the Old Victoria Water Company) or fridge filter systems that you can get locally as well. Check out these filters to choose from.
- HIGHER-PRICED: For countertop and in-home filtration systems I highly recommend the Berkey or Santevia systems! They are the most popular and widely used for countertop options and are great long-lasting quality. I personally have not bought an in-home system yet however, the article listed above also gives some great options.
Ooof. If you’ve made it this far, then you definitely need another big glass of water! Hopefully this helped to clear a few questions up when it comes to water. If it’s raised even MORE questions, let me know in the comments below!
- Haas, E. MD (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine
- Bean, A. BSc RNutr (2013) The complete Guide to Sports Nutrition
Heidi MacAulay, R.H.N.
“Eat more plants. Do more yoga. Read more books.”
Learn more about me, my credentials or how to work with me here!