Well, what is the best water to drink for health? Obviously drinking water is essential to your overall health and well-being. Anyone who knows me is aware that ya don’t have to remind me to drink up! We’ve all heard a minimum of 8 glasses a day, right?
Whether you agree with this or not, you likely won’t hear anyone argue that drinking water and hydration are not an important part of your overall health routine. But did you know that the kind of water you are drinking may be equally as important as how much and when?
Below I will explain in detail the difference between 11 different kinds of water sources in no particular order. If you want to hear my own favorites, scroll all the way down.
Or read the wordy stuff below to empower yourself to make knowledge-based decisions next time you’re faced with options. Let’s start with the basics.
So What is Water?
Technically it’s H2O. I mean that’s what we all learned in school. But a pure H2O compound is a pharmaceutical drug because water truly doesn’t come like this in nature. True water has a bunch of other substances dissolved into it to give it its structure. With all that, water also carries energy and information. And did you know that the water we drink is billions of years old and even predates the Sun?!
What are the Different Types of Water?
Just going through a grocery store aisle, you will note that there are so many different kinds of water. But what are they? And what is the best type of water to drink? Read below for a detailed description of all the common types of drinking water.
What is Tap Water?
Tap water or potable water is simply the water in our homes that comes out of the faucet. Tap water is treated with stuff to kill pathogens. Primarily it’s treated with chlorine. And chlorine kills everything.
Did you know that chlorine is really an antibiotic? As such, it doesn’t really care what kind of life it eliminates. And taking an antibiotic even in low doses for a long time is likely not a recipe for success.
Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
While chlorine kills all the pathogens, our water still contains a lot of things that we’ve never had to deal with. Things that our water elimination systems have never been asked to eliminate. These include pharmaceutical chemicals from anti-depressants to muscle relaxers, pesticides, and more. It’s getting into our water supply from various things including run-off from agriculture and pharma industries. This is what we are drinking from our tap.
Because most of the developed countries test the water, the concentration of these is generally considered safe for consumption, but it’s there nonetheless.
And then there’s that chlorine you’re still drinking which is killing everything inside your gut. With gut health being such a huge discussion topic these days, you probably really don’t want to kill all those good happy bacteria.
What Else is in Our Tap Water?
The second chemical very prevalent in our water supply is fluoride. Supposedly for better teeth and bone health. But according to the NRC (National Research Council), fluoride can significantly damage the brain. Harvard scientists have directly linked it to bone cancer as well (*). And while the jury is still out (*)…is it worth risking since there’s literally zero evidence to suggest that our bodies need fluoride in any amount.
And What is Drinking Water?
All types of drinking water are basically water that is considered safe for consumption or for food preparation. No more, no less. In the United States this does not have to be any better than your tap water. In fact, that is most likely what you are buying in bottles labeled as drinking water. Just tap.
What is Bottled Water?
The only requirement bottled water needs to satisfy is that it meets or exceeds the tap water requirements. With that said, many different kinds of water may be bottled. But what about the bottle itself? Plastic bottles, unless labeled as BPA free, contain xenoestrogens.
What are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are “foreign” estrogens, substances that are close enough in molecular structure to estrogen that they can bind to estrogen receptor sites with potentially hazardous outcomes. (*)
Because plastic doesn’t biodegrade but photo degrades instead, light actually breaks it down. So if you have bottled water sitting on the store shelf it’s literally breaking down and dispersing the contents into the water becoming the water that you drink. You’re welcome. BPA free is better, but honestly probably safer with good old glass. This is my favorite glass bottle from Ello that I literally cannot destroy! HA!
What is Filtered Water?
So a lot of people use filters to clean their water. We certainly do. The vast majority of the in-home use filters on the market are simple carbon filters that remove or reduce the occurrence of many impurities from our tap water.
I recently found out that Brita filters “remove the taste and smell of chlorine”. But you know what it doesn’t say it removes? You guessed it…Chlorine! To make things even more interesting, Brita filters are actually made by Clorox.
However, the new long-lasting Brita filters do claim to reduce chlorine occurring in water up to 97.4%. And these claim to remove some pharmaceuticals occurring in the water as well. Guess what we’re switching to!
What is Distilled Water Then You Ask?
At the most basic level, distillation removes everything from your water and creates a pure H2O compound essentially through evaporation. This sounds great but pure water is not really the water you want to drink all the time.
It’s free of harmful things. Sure. But it’s also free of any beneficial minerals and elements which we normally find in the water. Only drinking distilled water could put you at a risk for at least some deficiencies.
What is Reverse-Osmosis Water?
Reverse osmosis (RO) works to purify water by passing it through a partially permeable membrane under high pressure in order to remove various larger particles and unwanted molecules. What this means is that this process will also remove some of those highly beneficial minerals I already mentioned (think calcium, magnesium, selenium, etc.)
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You?
Since it removes a lot of the beneficial minerals present in water along with the not so good stuff, reverse-osmosis water is not bad. But probably not the water you should be drinking by the gallons every day. Unless, of course, you know you get those minerals from other sources.
The biggest negative to reverse-osmosis is probably in the inefficiency of the process. Most household water systems only recover 10-15% of the water through this process. The other 85%+ will be thrown back into the septic system simply wasting it. Because this wasted water now has a higher concentration of hard minerals, pathogens, and other waste products it may also overload the septic system.
What is Mineral Water?
Mineral water is water that comes out of a natural mineral spring. It can be classified as still or sparkling. Carbonated mineral water may be naturally carbonated or artificially through the addition of carbon dioxide.
Per FDA, mineral water has to contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) “total dissolved solids” (TDS) that come from “a geologically and physically protected underground water source.” This TDS content is the main difference between spring water and mineral water. Anything below that margin is spring water then, assuming it came from an actual spring in an unaltered state.
Is Mineral Water Good for You?
Since mineral water is naturally rich in mineral matter from the very depth of our planet, drinking mineral water will make you superhuman! Just kidding.
As the name suggests, mineral water may contain high amounts of minerals and other elements and trace elements. These include magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sodium, sulfate, and chloride among many others. The exact mineral composition will range depending on the source, of course.
Mineral water has a number of health benefits. Regular mineral water consumption can improve heart health (*), lower blood pressure (*), improve bone density (*, *), and even reduce symptoms of constipation (*). As you can see, there are many studies that focus on mineral water benefits.
I have actually been drinking good old San Pellegrino water or Perrier in glass bottles for several years now and I truly love the taste. I linked them, but shop around since I don’t think Amazon always has the best pricing.
What is Spring Water?
Spring water is the water that comes directly from an uncontaminated natural spring. Our planet is a giant filter that we have yet to replicate. This natural filtering process takes an extremely long time. The final product, however, is naturally free of any pathogens or contaminants.
Spring water is also naturally rich in all the essential minerals. And it does not contain byproducts of pharmaceutical or agricultural industry run-off or anything used to purify and treat the water (like chlorine and fluoride).
Is Spring Water Good for You?
Spring water is likely the purest and best thing you can ever taste as far as water goes. The problem is that only 45% of the bottled spring water that claims to be spring water is actually truly spring water. The other overwhelming majority is just glorified tap water. Collected at the source but then taken through a number of steps, including chlorination, to “purify” it.
Unlike mineral water, which is tightly defined by law, spring water has no legal definition. This allows the manufacturers to use water from sources other than natural springs.
This is a case of buyer beware. Do make sure to research where your specific brand of water comes from and how the company is processing it for bottling. I personally really like Acqua Panna and Mountain Valley Spring Water. Btw, they also deliver!
What is the Difference Between Spring Water and Artesian Water?
I have always wondered about the difference between spring water and artesian water. Sounds fancy, right? Well, as it turns out, artesian water is really just well water that comes to the surface under natural pressure.
The difference between spring water and artesian water is that a well is dug into the ground in order to tap into the underground spring (aka an aquifer). An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable rock containing water. A company will then bottle and sell this water as artesian water (*).
Is Well Water Safe?
Well water is probably the second best thing you could drink next to spring and mineral water. However, because people manually dig a well to tap into the underground aquifer (*), this also means that the water just may not have fully finished the filtering or “cooking” process to emerge in a natural spring ready for you to enjoy.
Potential Problems with Well Water
This water is likely going to have a much higher TDS (total dissolved solids) count and contain lots of calcium and magnesium, and sulfur (causing that awesome rotten-egg smell). The most common problems with well water are aesthetic in nature. Still naturally occurring contaminants include uranium, radon, and arsenic which are dissolved in groundwater as it moves through soil and rock.
Another concern could be very close proximity to a septic tank. Agricultural run-off nearby can also be a threat. If you have a well, it’s a good idea to have the well water tested for these just in case at least annually. These basic tests are not expensive and start at as little as $10.
Still, humans have been consuming well water for a very long time. If you are lucky to have one on your property and if you use certain precautions it’s an amazing water source.
What is Purified Water?
Purified water originates from tap water, well water, or spring water. It really doesn’t matter, as it is then filtered or processed to remove impurities and pathogens including fungi, bacteria, metals, chemical pollutants, and parasites. The purification process will also remove beneficial minerals. Purified water is regulated by the FDA. And the FDA requires extremely low levels of 10 parts per million (ppm) or less of dissolved impurities (i.e. minerals).
What is the Difference Between Spring Water and Purified Water?
As we learned earlier, spring water is naturally occurring water that has been filtered by the earth itself to remove all impurities. Purified water can come from a number of sources, but then it undergoes a number of filtering steps to make it meet FDA standards.
Is Purified Water Same as Distilled Water?
Essentially distilled water is a type of purified water as distillation is one of the methods used to purify water.
What About Alkaline Water?
Alkaline water is obtained using a water ionizer. A water ionizer or an alkaline ionizer is a system that claims to raise the pH level of drinking water through electrolysis. The process of electrolysis separates the incoming water stream into acidic and alkaline components.
There is a school of thought claiming we should reduce our consumption of acidic foods and increase our consumption of alkaline foods.
When we talk about the alkalinity of water in nature however, we are really talking about the mineral content of water. However, when we talk about these alkaline filters, the result is achieved using electricity. In the end, what you get is something known as “disassociated water”. This is the water you get by basically splitting up the ionic compounds in the water.
Some caution against drinking this type of water. Clinical studies have revealed injury to cardiac tissue due to drinking alkalized water for prolonged periods of time in rats. (*)
Again, alkaline water in nature is created due to the mineral compounds and not the splitting of the water molecule itself. This changes the chemical nature of that water which is likely to impact how it interacts with your body. Not something I want to mess with personally.
I hope this made you wonder at least a little at your own source of hydration and perhaps you’ll be a little more choosy next time you’re at the store trying to pick up a bottle of H2O 🙂
If it’s isn’t clear, my family has its own personal favorites. I believe the best water to drink is spring water from known sources, mineral water, and tap that’s filtered to ensure the removal of chlorine and pharmaceuticals. Happy hydrating!
Pin and share this if you know anyone who might be interested!