You Gotta Have a Gimmick, Raw Water Edition
Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
As we were saying last time, just because something is marketed as “natural” or “healthy” or “wholesome” doesn’t necessarily mean it is.
Such is the case with raw water, which you had probably never heard about until a few weeks ago, when the New York Times ran a story about it as a new, trendy thing.
In case you somehow were lucky to have missed the explosion of media that ensued, “raw water” is untreated water. It may be collected from springs or the atmosphere or even waste from fruit and vegetable processing.
And folks are paying up to $37 for a 2.5 gallon glass jug of the stuff. After all, it’s marketed as “natural” and “healthier” than the stuff that comes out of your tap.
Most of the objection focuses on the potential for untreated water to harbor disease-causing pathogens. Even spring water, notes a recent post at Tree Hugger,
can contain lots of other things, like Giardia or e. Coli. It just takes a beaver pooping upstream, or ducks and seagulls – that’s why campers use water filters and purification tablets even in the middle of pristine Northern wilderness.
Indeed, it’s why humans have treated their water for centuries. Drinking untreated water can make you sick, particularly if you have a compromised biological terrain, as most do in our modern environment.
Consequently, all water that is bottled and sold in the US must be treated in some way. “Even traditional bottled spring water,” noted the Times, “is treated with ultraviolet light or ozone gas and passed through filters to remove algae.”
Yet the presence of bacteria seems to actually be a selling point for raw water. It’s proponents brag about its “probiotic” content. “Processed water” is “dead water,” so the thinking goes.
To be sure, the concerns that are said to be driving interest in raw water are all too real. Contaminants like lead, fluoride, pharmaceutical residues, agricultural runoff, environmental contaminants, and the like are problems, to be sure.
But raw water sources aren’t immune to these. Surface and groundwater alike are subject to industrial pollution in particular.
In fact, as Oregon State chemistry professor May Nyman has said, “Absolutely pure water doesn’t exist.” Why?
Water really “likes” to dissolve other substances inside itself, she said. That’s because water molecules have strange Mickey Mouse shapes, with two hydrogen nuclei at one end and an oxygen nucleus at the other end, each with different electronic charges. Water molecules use those charged hydrogen bonds to interact and cling to one another, but they also cling to any molecule that approaches them. That makes it very likely that water will dissolve a bit of any object it encounters into itself.
And the purer a sample of water gets, the more strongly it will try to dissolve ions from any object it encounters.
In our view, raw water is the stuff of venture capitalism, not health, with possibly well-meaning but misguided business folk making a pretty penny off of justifiable concerns about the quality of our food and drink.
That said, water quality does matter. It’s one of the reasons why we always test our patients’ drinking water when they come in for biological terrain assessment (BTA) – a type of evaluation that arose from the work of French hydrologist Claude Vincent back in the mid-20th century.
Vincent’s job was to find water, purify it, and provide the best possible water for cities, towns, and villages throughout France. In doing so, he learned that there were completely different kinds of water and that these corresponded to certain illnesses. Average mortality increases according to the quality of the water.
One of the most important parameters BTA measures is the correlation between specific pH and oxidative/redox potential (rH2). This is how Vincent measured the quality of the water. The rH2 value is dependent on the pH, since it always rises when the pH becomes more acidic. The pH likewise depends on the rH2. The more contaminants in the fluid, the higher the rH2 and the more acidic the fluid he measured. The rH2 value, which gets increasingly oxidized, causes the biological terrain to become more poisoned.
So what to drink? We favor spring water, as you get its mineral content without fluoride and far fewer environmental contaminants. If tap water is what you’ve got, filter it before drinking. However, be aware that filters such as Brita typically can’t remove compounds such as fluoride. For that, you need something like reverse osmosis. While it will strip out minerals, as well, there are remineralizing attachments you can get to remedy that.
What you don’t need is to be spending nearly $40 for a bottle of raw water with no evidence that it’s any better for you and the potential to actually do some harm.