Drinking Water and Health - Is Water Part of the Cure?

Brian Oram, Licensed Professional Geologist

Even though 60% of the human body is water, the impact of water on health is often overlooked. The primary health concerns with water relate to both quantity and quality.

Hydration is Key

When you go to the doctor's office or hospital, what is one of the most common health indicators that health professionals check? They check to see if you're properly hydrated! Therefore, is water part of the cure?

In terms of hydration, drinking water is probably one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Water is used in your body to help maintain your temperature and ensures the proper operation of your circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. When your body is dehydrated, you can experience the following symptoms: muscle fatigue, dizziness, extreme thirst, and very dark-colored urine. Chronic dehydration may cause constipation, headaches, long-term muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, and dry or flaky skin. 

When the body is not adequately hydrated, our body's response is to make us feel thirsty. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and fainting. Conversely, if your body is over hydrated, you can become water intoxicated or hyperhydration. If hyperhydration occurs, the kidneys can not process all the water, and the system becomes overwhelmed. 

There are phone apps and other tools to help you remember to drink enough water, but our general recommendation is if you feel thirsty, it is time to get a drink, and if given a choice, choose water.

Drinking-Water Quality

Water is one of the pathways through which potential contaminants and disease-causing agents can enter the body, so the quality is also vital. You need to drink an adequate quantity and ensure the water you're drinking is high quality. Drinking a high amount of poor-quality water can do more harm than good.

Drinking-Water Sources

Water comes in many forms, including tap water, premium bottled water, spring water, carbonated water, purified water, and nutrient-infused water. Beverages such as juices, coffee, and soda also contain water. Of all these, my professional opinion is that the healthiest choice is only to drink water. 

The three most common drinking water sources are public water, private water, and bottled water. Public water, commonly called city or tap water, is always regulated by the federal and state governments. Water coming directly from a well or spring is a private source and is not commonly regulated. In addition, if you purchase bottled water, you may want to check to see if the bottled water is just filtered tap water or if it is from an actual spring.

Learn More: Water Sources: Public/City or Private/Well Water

If you get your water from city water, the most common health concerns are related to the presence of chlorine by-products or corrosive by-products. 

In the United States, public water supply systems are disinfected using various forms of chlorine. Chlorine is used to disinfect the water, but it can react with naturally occurring organics to form trihalomethanes, a potential carcinogen.

Phosphate is added to water to attempt to control corrosion. However, phosphate can react with the metals to form a scale or coating on the inside of the piping. (See Flint, Michigan water crisis).

If your water source is from a well, the most common problems are bacteria and elevated levels of salts in the water, like nitrate, chloride, sulfate, or corrosive water. In some cases, the water may contain elevated levels of radionuclides and trace metals, like arsenic, iron, lead, and manganese. Drinking water quality depends on several factors such as the source, location, level of treatment, the condition of your home's plumbing, and your home or house. 

In some areas, the community is concerned about the possible impact of pipelines and natural gas development. A hidden and more immediate problem may be these far more common factors impacting the quality of their drinking water.

Recommended Actions

1. If you have City Water - Review any annual "Consumer Confidence Reports" produced by your water supplier and act accordingly.

2. If you have Private Water – Get Tested annually and have the results reviewed by an expert.

3. Try our free water Self-Diagnostic Tool that can diagnose potential water issues simply using your sight, smell, taste, and other observations.

4. Order a Neighborhood Hazardous Report

Phrases to Remember

We ALL Live Downstream!
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!

More Information

Consumer Confidence Reports

Study finds inadequate hydration among U.S. children

Recommended Reading: "Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty!"