Just Say "No" to Raw Water
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you might have heard about the trend of people drinking “raw water.” Those who drink it say that it provides health benefits not found in treated water--from improved gut health to increased mineral consumption. But are these claims valid? Are there health concerns with drinking untreated water?
Drinking any city water (in the United States) means that your water is treated. Treated water is a good thing. It saves thousands of people from getting sick and possibly even dying! Waterborne germs such as Cryptosporidium, E. Coli, Hepatitis A, Giardia, and other pathogens are present in untreated water.
Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrhea, is the leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States. E. coli causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can also cause a fever, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. Hepatitis A can cause fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, which usually resolve in two months. Thankfully, here in the United States, we have advanced water treatment techniques to help prevent illnesses due to these microorganisms.
What’s the Fury about Fluoride?
Some people have concerns over the fluoride that is added to treated city water, with some internet conspiracy theorists even declaring the mineral to be a “mind control drug” added to our water by the government. In reality, fluoridated water keeps teeth healthy and reduces cavities (tooth decay) by about 25% in children and adults. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Major Safety Concerns
There are many naturally occurring elements in water such as arsenic, radon, uranium, manganese, and lead that can be harmful and even toxic to humans. Arsenic affects the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver. Manganese poisoning symptoms resemble Parkinson’s disease and are similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Lead poisoning symptoms include abdominal pain, headaches, memory problems, irritability, and tingling in the hands and feet. The brain is most sensitive to lead. Treated water is tested regularly for these elements and more.
What about Wells?
While you might not be drinking raw water on purpose, private well water can have the same harmful components. An estimated 15 million households in the United States, which is about 60 million people, regularly depend on private water wells. Well owners often test for bacteria, but they rarely check for anything else. Private wells are not enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just because there are far too many for it to be reasonable. If you suspect there is a problem with your private well water, it is suggested to get it tested. While some of the elements are only harmful at high exposure rates, there are some like lead, arsenic, and barium that are toxic in smaller quantities.
Just say “no” to raw water.
There are far more potential health problems associated than the supposed good it will do for you. It is essential to stay hydrated though, so continue drinking treated, filtered water. Water helps regulate your body temperature, protect your organs and tissues, lubricates joints, and helps prevent constipation.