MILK 'N HONEY HEALTH FOODS


NUTRITION 101: LESSON NINE
 



WATER:

       Water makes up around sixty to seventy percent of the weight of the human body. The average adult contains 10 to 13 gallons of water. The human brain is 95 percent water, the blood is 82 percent, the muscles 75 percent, bone 22 percent and the lungs are 90 percent.  Just a 2 percent drop in our body's water supply can trigger signs of dehydration.  Such signs include fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on smaller print. Mild dehydration is considered to be a cause of daytime fatigue. An estimated seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. When you’re
dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work much harder to cause it to circulate. As a result, the brain becomes less active making it hard to concentrate.


FUNCTION OF WATER:

       Water is involved in all physiological processes and plays an instrumental role in digestion, elimination and circulation. The health and maintenance of every tissue of the body is dependent on the presence of water.  Water is a carrier of minerals and other nutrients to all tissues of the body.  Without proper hydration, body tissues become literally starved of the many nutrients necessary for proper function.   Water is necessary to maintain a proper balance between acidity and alkalinity (pH).  Water provides lubrication to joint tissue and helps make the skin supple. Water is critical to the removal of waste from the body via the lymphatic system, the kidneys and the stool.  Water is instrumental in maintaining proper body temperature. 

WATER AND DISEASE PREVENTION:

       Proper hydration has been shown to be a dynamic in prevention of disease.  The findings of a six-year study of more than 20,000 healthy men and women aged 38-100 in the May 1, 2002 American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who drank more than five glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses. The protective effect of water was even greater in men. Other research conducted since 1999 indicates there is a good correlation between fluid intake level and coronary heart disease. Whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity and blood fibrinogen levels are considered to be independent risk factors for coronary heart disease and they all tend to be elevated by dehydration. Therefore, healthy people who drink adequate levels of plain water generally keep their hydration level up and have a reduced risk of dying from a heart attack in comparison to people who do not drink adequate amounts of water.

       It should be noted that the positive relationship between good hydration and prevention of heart attacks is associated only with plain water and not with beverages made from water.  Some studies indicate that beverages such as caffeinated drinks and soda waters do not act as protection against heart attacks and can actually lead to greater blood viscosity (thickening of the blood).   

DAILY REQUIREMENT:

       The average adult loses around 2.5 liters of water per day through urine, perspiration, respiration and bowel movement.  This water needs to be replaced.  Since food contains around 20% of your daily water intake, you need to drink approximately 2.0 liters of water per day to maintain proper hydration.  Drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water per day will provide 1.9 liters of water.  These 1.9 liters of water can include beverages other than plain water but it is best that this amount is made up of just plain water as plain water hydrates the body much better. Caffeinated coffee, tea and soda water along with alcoholic beverages actually dehydrate the body because of their diuretic effect.  This means they increase the discharge of fluids from the body.  If the amount of perspiration increases due to exercise or hot weather, you should drink additional water. 

       While thirst is certainly a direct signal that your body needs water, it has been determined that by the time you become thirsty, your body has already become a little dehydrated.  As we grow older, our body does not sense the need for water as well and thirst is not activated as readily.  Therefore, it is best to drink those two liters of water per day whether thirst is present or not.   

 POLLUTION OF OUR DRINKING WATER:

      Americans have some of the cleanest drinking water in the world and yet our water is often polluted with unseen chemicals and contaminates.  Polluted water does not hydrate the body as well and the pollutants themselves can create toxicity and a variety of health challenges.  Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and other farm runoff contaminate our well water. MTBE, a gasoline additive, is seen to contaminate about one-third of wells in America. Lake water is often contaminated with industrial pollutants and toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic.  Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) were used for years in various industrial applications.  This highly toxic material was banned by the US government in 1977.  PCB’s, however, still contaminate water supplies throughout the country.   Volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) such as solvents, degreasers, adhesives, gasoline additives, and fuels additives are found in our water supply.

       Pathogens in drinking water are serious health risks. Pathogens are disease-producing micro-organisms, which include bacteria, such as giardia lamblia, and a variety of viruses and parasites. These organisms get into drinking water when the water source is contaminated by sewage and animal waste, or when wells are improperly sealed and constructed.

       Most municipal water treatment plants use chlorine to disinfect the water.  Chlorine, however, can act as a contaminant when it combines with organic material in the water to form trihalomthanes (THM's) such as carbon tetrachloride, bis-chlorethane and chloroform. THM’s can be very toxic to the body.  Chlorine by itself is a suspected toxin to the body.  Fluoride is often added to municipal water supplies to help prevent tooth decay.  Fluoride is a very toxic chemical and is suspected of interacting with the mineral iodine in the body and causing thyroid malfunction.  Its role as a tooth decay preventative continues to be debated. 

       Not all micro organisms can be eliminated through chlorination. Cryptosporidium is a type of parasite that can cause acute diarrhea, cramps, fever and vomiting.  This micro organism is only 5 microns in size and is resistant to chlorine.  In 1993, 400,000 people in Milwaukee Wisconsin suffered from crypotsporidum contaminated tap water and 104 people died.

POINT OF USE PURIFICATION: 

       Because water is so necessary to our health and because the more pure the water is the better it will hydrate the body, it may be wise to have a point of use purification system.  The three most common systems are activated carbon adsorption, reverse osmosis and distillation.

ACTIVATED CARBON ADSORPTION:  

       Activated carbon is made from carbon based materials such as coal, petroleum, nut shells and fruit pits.  These materials are heated to high temperatures with steam in the absence of oxygen.  This process “activates” the carbon in these materials leaving millions of microscopic pores and great surface area.  One pound of activated carbon provides surface area of 60 to 150 acres.

       When water is run through activated carbon, the microscopic pores trap the larger organic molecules present in the water and adsorb the smaller organic molecules.  Adsorption is where particles cling unto the surface area of the activated carbon.  This is different from absorption which is the process whereby one substance becomes incorporated into the molecular structure of another structure. 

       Activated carbon adsorption has the ability to effectively remove totally suspended solids (TSS’s), which are particles above two microns in size and many totally dissolved solids (TDS’s) which are particles smaller than two microns in size.. There are two basic types of activated carbon filters. The most common type is the granulated carbon filter where the filter housing is filled with loose granules of activated carbon through which water passes.  One problem with this type of filter is that water can channel around the granules without being filtered.  The effectiveness of granulated filters depends on how tightly the granules are packed.   

       A second type of activated carbon filter is the sold block carbon filter where very fine pulverized carbon is compressed under high pressure and fused together with a binding material into a solid block.  This eliminates channeling as all the water passing through will have contact with the carbon.  Solid block filters are often able to remove contaminants one-half micron in size.  Another type of solid block filter uses powered activated carbon minus the binding material.  The powder is packed around a tube and held in place by a synthetic or cotton wrap.   Since there is no binding material to keep the carbon tightly in place, channeling can occur with this type of filter. 

       Activated carbon will remove volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which are carbon based compounds either man made or naturally occurring.  These include THM’s and PCB’s, pesticides and insecticides.  This filtration system effectively removes chlorine.  Activated carbon filtration will not remove bacteria, viruses, various other microbes, sodium, nitrates, fluoride, and most minerals, including some heavy metals.

       For any type of carbon filtration system to be effective, there must be adequate contact time between the water and the carbon.  Small facet mount type filters generally provide little contact time and are therefore marginally effective in removing contaminants.  Solid block type filter systems provide the maximum contact time, as well as surface area, and therefore do the best job, among activated carbon filters, of removing contaminants.  Filters with flow rates of under one-half gallon per minute will generally provide good quality water.

       A problem with carbon filters in general is that they can become a breeding ground for bacteria as more and more contaminants accumulate on the surface of the carbon particles and act as a food source for microbes. It is wise to change the carbon filter often with these kinds of systems. 

REVERSE OSMOSIS (RO):

       This method uses a semi-permeable membrane with pores so small that it will remove molecules of both organic and inorganic material smaller than .0005 microns.  It works by moving water at high pressure against the membrane which allows only the water molecules to pass through. The collected contaminate material on the membrane is then removed by flushing the membrane with untreated water into a waste drain.  This keeps the membrane clean from buildup of contaminates.  Therefore, the RO membrane often lasts two to three years before having to be replaced.  Thereafter, they have to be replaced because of gradual bacterial growth on the membrane which causes deterioration.  Bacterial growth is more of a problem where the incoming water has not been chlorinated to remove bacteria. 

       Despite its ability to remove materials of small size, RO filtration has its limitations and must be used in conjunction with a sediment removing pre-filter and a carbon pre-filter to remove chlorine which is very harmful to the RO membrane.  The RO system is not effective in removing low molecular weight VOC’s and a post carbon filter must be used to accomplish this. Reverse osmosis units remove substantial amounts of most inorganic chemicals such as salts, metals, minerals and most microorganisms including cryptosporidium, giardia and various bacteria and viruses.  Fluoride is also removed to a large extent with an RO unit.   

       Because reverse osmosis works against standard osmotic pressure, the process is fairly slow, producing roughly 15 gallons of purified water per day, and may require from 3 to 10 gallons of untreated water to make a single gallon of purified water because of having to use untreated water to flush waste from the RO membrane.

DISTILLATION:

       In distillation, a reservoir of water is heated to the point of creating steam which is then condensed in a cooling chamber and dripped into a holding tank as water.  Contaminants are left behind in the reservoir and must be periodically cleaned out.  This simple process leaves behind most contaminants including VOC’s, PCB’s, and THM’s.  This process also leaves behind minerals, heavy metals and most organic and inorganic material including micro organisms.  Some volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) contain certain pesticides and volatile solvents which have a boiling point very close to water (207-218 degrees fahrenheit) and will therefore rise with the steam and become included in the re-condensed water.  This often includes chlorine.  Many distillers have a post filter to remove any VOC’s and chlorine before the water drips into the holding tank.  Some distillers feature a volatile gas vent through which chemical vapors that rise with the steam are released.  The better distillers will have both. 

       Like reverse osmosis, distillation is a slow process where it will take three to four hours to make a gallon of water.  Some distillers come with a waste water feature which will clean the tank of accumulating contaminants as you are making the water.  This feature, however, is not necessary to the function of distillation as it is with reverse osmosis.    

WHAT ABOUT BOTTLED WATER?

       Many people, who are aware of the dangers in drinking water from the tap, have gone to drinking bottled water. There are a variety of bottled waters available including distilled and mineral water and even water where the molecules of water have been altered to provide greater potential for hydration such as Penta Water.  Unfortunately, there is inadequate regulation of companies that produce water products and therefore you can’t be sure of the quality of the bottled water you may be drinking.  Bottled water can also become an expensive alternative to tap water as time goes on. For example, the average household uses between two and one-half and three gallons of water each day for drinking and cooking. At $1.00 per gallon, this can come to around $1,000 dollars a year.  This cost far exceeds the yearly cost of most point of use systems.

PLASTIC BOTTLES:

       One additional issue related to bottled water is the plastic containers it most often comes in. Some plastics leach plastic molecules into the water.  Remember, water is the worlds greatest solvent.  This is especially true of distilled water.  Water bottled in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic appears to be very safe as PET plastic is very inert. This plastic shouldn't leach plastic molecules.  A #1 in the triangle located on the bottom of your bottle will identify plastic made from this material. Water bottled in a high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic material is generally safe although some feel it has potential to discharge molecules of plastic into the water.  This plastic has a #2 in the triangle at the bottom of the container.  If you see a #3, the plastic is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is a very sturdy plastic but not one generally used in making bottles.  A forth type of plastic is polycarbonate which is very strong, rigid and inert.  It is used for five gallon jugs, food storage containers and for some smaller water bottles.  This plastic is signified by a #7 in the triangle at the bottom of your container. A possible danger with this plastic is that it contains Bisphenol A (BPA).

       Bisphenol A has created quite a stir of late as some research has shown it to be safe and other research has shown it to be a health hazard.  This chemical has been in use for some 50 years and has been the subject of hundreds of studies.  It is not only used in making polycarbonate plastic bottles but is found in many other commonly used products.    As research continues to identify health hazards associated with BPA, this substance is slowly being eliminated in the manufacturing of products.  We recommend avoiding BPA.  

       A rule of thumb to follow in regard to plastic bottles is that if there is the slightest hint of a plastic taste in the water from such bottles, you can be assured that molecules of plastic are leaching into the water. You should discontinue using that bottled water and try a different brand.  The same principle would apply to refillable bottles that are so popular and are often carried around.  For long term storage of water it is best to use glass.

DRINK PURIFIED WATER!

       Since water is such a critical dynamic in our health and since the water that we get through municipal water systems or private wells is suspect as to its purity, it is prudent to use some type of point of use purification system to provide a better quality of drinking water. Of the three systems discussed above, distillation provides the most pure water.  The less contaminated water is, the better it will hydrate and cleanse the body.  Since distilled water produces the purest water it may be the best alternative to what comes out of the tap.

      Some are concerned that because minerals are removed through distillation and reverse osmosis, we will not be getting our needed minerals by drinking water processed by these systems.  Minerals in water exist as inorganic mineral salts.  In order for the body to use these minerals, they must be chelated by the body which means the body must complex them with various carrying agents such as amino and other acids in order to make them organic and able to be utilized by the body.  Minerals in food are already in an organic state and much better utilized by the body than the inorganic minerals found in water. It is much better to get your minerals from food. 

       Some have expressed concerns that distilled water, being the solvent that it is, will leach minerals already in the body.  This does not happen because minerals in the body are in an ionic state (electrically charged state) and therefore will not be affected by distilled water.

       Whether you choose distillation or some other form of water purification, it is important you do something to insure that the water you are drinking is adding to your health and not distracting from it.   There are many water purification systems available in the marketplace.  Do your homework and choose a system that has a proven track record and where the company is able to provide independent laboratory analysis of what their system removes from the water.

Lesson Ten: Hormones