Water: The Precious Fluid that Keeps Us Alive Also Has Impurities that Can Lead Us to an Early Death
by Michael Dye
Since our early years in grade school we have been told that about 70 percent of our body is composed of water, and that no life could exist on Earth without this precious liquid. So, you would think that by now we would all appreciate the extraordinarily vital role water plays in maintaining our health and keeping us alive. - Evidently not!
Few people take the effort to ensure that they are drinking pure water, free from inorganic minerals, chemical poisons and other harmful contaminants. Most are willing to drink whatever impurities are in their local tap water... and our water supplies are becoming increasingly polluted from industrial sources, agricultural run-off, lead pipes, along with sodium fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals added to municipal water supplies. And many people drink water only when soft drinks and other artificial concoctions are not available.
The fact is that very few people are providing their bodies with the H20 that is so essential to our life and our health.
So for most of us, it's been a while since grade school, but perhaps it is time to again be reminded of the elementary -- yet essential -- fact that about 70 percent of our body is composed of water and that drinking pure water is one of the easiest and most important steps we can take to improve our health. Rather than taking this element for granted, we should realize that since water constitutes more than two-thirds of our body, it must be extraordinarily important in the functioning of our body. So, let us examine the following:
What does water do in our body? What impurities are in drinking water? What effects do these impurities have on our health? And how can we obtain pure water?
Even a brief answer to the first question should leave you astonished at the incredibly vast and diverse functions water performs in your body. If you are impressed with the wide range of benefits from water, you may be equally amazed to discover the harmful effects that impurities in water can have on your body. And you will see our bodies can obtain pure water from three sources: 1) distilled water; 2) live, raw fruits and vegetables; and 3) freshly-extracted juices of raw fruits and vegetables.
How does water work in our body? Along with oxygen, water is one of the two most important elements on Earth in sustaining our life. Everything your body does, it needs water to do it. Take just a second to roll your tongue around in your mouth. Imagine how that would feel without water.
Water is the primary ingredient in all bodily fluids, including blood supply, lymph, saliva, glandular secretions and cerebrospinal fluid. Water constitutes 92 percent of our blood and nearly 98 percent of our intestinal, gastric, saliva and pancreatic juices. While our body contains about five quarts of blood, a 150-pound person contains some 80 quarts of water.
To give just a sampling of the diverse functions of this vital element:
Water helps us to digest food. Water is used to maintain proper body temperature. Water gives our lungs the moisture we need to breathe. Water provides for the form and functioning of our body's 100 trillion cells. When our cells are starved for water, they become parched, dry and more vulnerable to attack by viruses.
Water holds our body's nutrients in solution and acts as a transportation medium to bring them into our cells. And likewise, water holds our waste products in solution and acts as a medium of transportation to eliminate them from our body. This waste comes from the cellular level, the bowels, blood stream, lymphatic system, and every organ, muscle, bone, connective tissue and piece of flesh in our body.
Water constitutes, regulates, flows through, cleanses and helps nourish every single part of your body. But the wrong kind of water -- with inorganic minerals, chemicals and other contaminants -- can pollute, clog up and turn to stone in every part of your body.
In his book, Water Can Undermine Your Health, Dr. Norman W. Walker offers a good account of what water -- and its impurities -- do in our body.
To start with, everything you eat or drink goes into your stomach and then into 20 to 25 feet of small intestine, he explains. From there, food can go one of two ways: That which can be assimilated is transferred to the liver for distribution to the rest of your system; while most of what cannot be utilized is passed on as waste into the large intestine (colon).
But Dr. Walker notes, "Liquids pass readily through the microscopic blood vessels in the wall of the small intestine," so "whatever the liquid contains in colloidal form goes along with the liquid right into the liver." He defines a colloid as "any substance in such a fine state of particles that it would take from 50,000,000 to 125,000,000 particles to measure one inch." This includes inorganic minerals, the most common of which is calcium (lime).
Once this liquid reaches the liver, he writes, "it is completely divested and cleared of everything whatever that was a component part of the liquid, except only the hydrogen and the oxygen which, together, form the water molecule. Water containing nothing but hydrogen and oxygen is pure water, and this is the only kind of water which the blood and the lymph can use in their work... Whatever mineral and chemical elements were present in the water when it first reaches the liver, are segregated by the anatomizing processes in the liver and either passed on into the blood stream or are filed away as reserve material."
What impact do minerals in water have on our health? So, what is the cumulative effect of collecting these mineral deposits in the body? Dr. Walker writes that if a person drinks two pints of water a day, this will total 4,500 gallons of water passing through his body over a 70-year lifespan. If it is not distilled, Dr. Walker estimates these 4,500 gallons of water will include 200 to 300 pounds of rock -- inorganic calcium (lime), magnesium and other mineral deposits -- that the body cannot utilize. He notes most of these inorganic minerals will be collected by the body's water, blood and lymph systems to be eliminated through excretory channels. But some of this 200 to 300 pounds of rock will stay in the body, causing stiffness in the joints, hardening of the arteries, kidney stones, gall stones and occlusions (blockages) of arteries, microscopic capillaries and other passages in which liquids flow through our entire body.
It is vital at this point to understand the difference between organic and inorganic minerals. Water flowing through or on the ground collects inorganic (non-living) minerals from the soil and rock through which it passes. These are not minerals that humans or other animals can utilize. Only plants have the capability of transforming inorganic minerals from the ground into living, vital, organic minerals we can use for nourishment. For this reason, we cannot absorb any minerals from eating finely-ground rocks or soil from our garden. We must allow the plants in the garden to take in these inorganic minerals through their roots from the soil and transform them, by the process of photosynthesis, into organic minerals that we can utilize. Inorganic minerals from the earth are absorbed into ground water, so we cannot benefit from minerals in water any more than we could by eating rocks in the ground.
Because these inorganic minerals cannot be absorbed into the cell wall as nutrition, they become distributed elsewhere in the body, causing arthritis in the joints, kidney stones, gallstones, hardening and blocking arteries, etc.
The most common mineral in ground water is calcium carbonate (lime), which is also a primary ingredient in making concrete and cement. If you have ever seen a large stalagmite or stalactite in a limestone cavern, you can visualize how this hard rock forms, one drop at a time in a cave... or on the inside of your arteries, a kidney stone, in your joints, etc. Another way of actually seeing these mineral deposits is to pour water from your kitchen sink into a pan. Put that pan of water in the sun and let it evaporate. Or if you are in a hurry, boil it. Either way, once the water has evaporated, you will find a solid coat of mineral deposits left on the side and bottom of the pan. These are the same deposits left in your arteries and the rest of your body.
Paul Bragg, an early pioneer of health foods, emphasizes that it is a fallacy of the medical profession to say that hardening of the arteries -- known as "arteriosclerosis" -- is a result of old age. Actually, he notes, hardening and blocking of the arteries is caused by the consumption of inorganic minerals from water, along with table salt and the waxy saturated fat (cholesterol) and acids from a meat-based diet... not old age. (As evidence of this claim, it could be noted that at the age of 95, a physical at Johns Hopkins revealed that Bragg had the arteries of a 20-year-old.)
Bragg adds, "If we examined our arteries closely, we could see that calcium carbonate and its affinities are lining these pipes and making them brittle -- beginning to turn our body into stone."
While water containing minerals is a primary contributor to these deposits, Bragg emphasizes that drinking the proper amount of distilled water is the way to flush out cholesterol and mineral deposits from our arteries and other body parts. "Remember water is a flushing agent," he notes. If one needs an idea of how effective water is in washing away minerals, look at a river bed... or the Grand Canyon. The hardest rock in the world is constantly being eroded and washed away by water.
Distilled water helps to cleanse inorganic mineral deposits from the body, but you do not have to be concerned about distilled water leaching away organic minerals that your body can utilize. Explaining this distinction, Dr. Walker notes that living, organic minerals are absorbed into the cell wall for nutrition. He writes, "It is virtually impossible for distilled water to separate minerals which have become an integral part of the cells and the tissues of the body. Distilled water collects only the minerals discarded... from the cells, the minerals which the natural water originally collected from its contact with the earth and the rocks. Such minerals, having been rejected by the cells of the body are of no constructive value."
When a person has arteriosclerosis, doctors often recommend by-pass surgery, balloon surgery or some other costly method to replace, clear up or get around the larger blocked arteries that are causing concern.
Both Bragg and Dr. Walker point out the shortcomings of this approach. Dr. Walker notes that although the largest artery in the body, the aorta, measures about one inch in diameter, the great majority of our blood vessels are microscopically small capillaries. "The tiny capillaries in your body form a network which, if spread out on the ground, would cover an area of about 1 1/2 acres. That's about 63,000 square feet. If all these tiny capillaries were placed end to end, they would make a microscopically tiny tube about 60 miles long," Dr. Walker estimates. So if your arteries are clogged, you should be concerned about the entire 60 miles, not just the few inches that might be cleared with by-pass surgery.
It is the tiny capillaries of the brain that suffer the greatest damage from inorganic minerals, cholesterol and salt. Bragg notes: "Go to the large convalescent and rest homes and see with your own eyes the people who can no longer think or reason for themselves. Many of them cannot recognize their own children and relatives... no technique on earth can regain the life of a human brain that is turning into stone."
Another very fine passageway easily obstructed by the impurities in water are the connective tissues that bind, support and protect vital organs, blood vessels, nerves and muscles. Dr. Walker notes these connective tissues form the outer covering of the brain, the membrane of the spinal chord, the cornea of the eyes, and they are involved in the metabolism of cells. He estimates that if the fine membranes forming these connective tissues in a human body were separated and placed side-by-side, they would cover several acres.
"Every piece and parcel of connective tissue is intimately involved in the filtering of water," Dr. Walker writes. "The impurities which circulate through the system with the water and the blood are the villains which clog up the microscopically fine mesh of the filtering membrane... noticeable in choked varicose veins, coronary occlusions causing heart attacks, etc." Along with inorganic minerals in water, other impurities Dr. Walker blames for obstructing passages in the connective tissues include refined foods such as white flour, sugar, salt, starchy foods and processed carbohydrates that are not water soluble.
How is Water Distributed Through the Body? Liquids are transferred wherever they are needed in our body by the process of osmosis, through the microscopic capillary veins of the walls of blood vessels. "Osmosis," Dr. Walker explains, "is the passage of liquids, concentrated solutions and vapors through semi-permeable membranes or skin." He warns that when large amounts of water containing inorganic minerals is consumed, "osmotic pressure through the connective tissues is demonstrably decreased, causing the obstruction of functions and activities in the area where it occurs. This interference with the osmotic pressure may result from the mineral matter in the water or from an excessive consumption of salt and starch and sugary foods."
This important function of transferring liquids throughout the body is handled by the endocrine glands, the glands of internal secretion. Dr. Walker refers to the hypothalamus -- a small gland near the center of the brain -- as "the Emperor of the Endocrine Glands system." The hypothalamus controls our water flow, keeping bodily fluids in balance by determining when we need to replenish or eliminate water. When an organ, mucous membrane or cell in your body needs water, it is your hypothalamus that sends you the message: "I'm thirsty." The hypothalamus also acts as the body's thermostat, so when we get hot, nerve impulses are sent to open pores in our skin. This allows perspiration to moisten and cool our body, helping us to stay comfortable. Or in cold weather, these nerve impulses from the hypothalamus act to close some of these pores, and raise the heat factor in blood circulation, which allows the body to generate and hold in its own heat.
And speaking of nerve impulses, Dr. Walker adds that nerves contain a constant flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which is 92 percent water. So you can see the efficiency of the entire nervous system and glandular system is dependent on the quality of water we consume.
Indeed, Dr. Walker writes, "there is no telling how many millions of people have suffered untold misery and a premature demise by the clogging up of veins and arteries, without their death having been diagnosed as resulting from the accumulation over a lifetime of the inorganic calcium" from their drinking water.
Chlorine and fluoride are poisons labeled as "safe" chemicals! Two chemicals commonly added to municipal water supplies are chlorine and sodium fluoride. Dr. Walker notes the poisonous gas chlorine was first used as a weapon in World War I, before it was used to poison the bacteria in our water supplies. Bragg warns that if the chlorine in drinking water is "sufficient to produce an offensive smell, enough chlorine may enter the intestinal tract to destroy helpful bacteria and thereby deprive us of the important vitamins which they make for us."
An update at the conclusion of Bragg's book, The Shocking Truth About Water, states chlorine in water has been linked to heart disease, senility and cancers of the bladder, liver, pancreas, colon and urinary tract. The book quotes Dr. Herbert Schwartz as asserting, "Chlorine is so dangerous it should be banned."
Bragg's book calls fluorine "one of the most potent poisons known to man." The same sodium fluoride used in our water supplies up to 1.2 parts per million is used in a higher concentration as a roach and rat killer and pesticide.
Citing a documentary by Peter Gray, The Grim Truth About Fluoridation, Bragg says the origin of adding sodium fluoride to water supplies occurred in 1939 when an industry commissioned a biochemist to find a use for the large amount of sodium fluoride wastes produced by aluminum pot lines. Big industry pressured state and local governments to fluoridate their water supplies, and the public was given the sales pitch that fluoride would prevent tooth decay. Bragg notes any intelligent person knows tooth decay is caused by "poor nutrition, especially the use of refined white sugar," rather than the lack of fluoride in their water supply.
And now for the "unsafe" chemicals! Thus far, we have only discussed inorganic calcium, chlorine and sodium fluoride. These are three of the most common impurities in our drinking water, which an average American may consume every day unless he or she takes the effort to drink distilled water. It should offer no consolation to know that most public health officials consider these three contaminants "safe." But there are many other pollutants that, although less common in our water supply, are much more hazardous.
The update to Bragg's book cites an ABC News study revealing that more than 700 chemicals have been found in our drinking water, and 129 of these chemicals have been cited by the EPA as posing serious health risks. Yet the EPA requires that our water supplies be tested for only 14 of these chemicals.
In its June 2 issue, The New York Times reported, "More than 1 in 5 Americans unknowingly drink tap water polluted with feces, radiation or other contaminants... Nearly 1,000 deaths each year and at least 400,000 cases of waterborne illness may be attributed to contaminated water."
Consider these statistics from the July 29, 1991 issue of U.S. News & World Report:
Despite passage of the Safe Water Drinking Water Act in 1974, one in six Americans (40 million people) continue to drink water containing excessive levels of lead, a heavy metal that can impair the IQ and attention span of children. One in six children under the age of 6 have elevated levels of lead in their blood. In early summer, half of the water ways in American's Corn Belt are laced with unhealthy amounts of pesticides. A quarter of all private wells in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota have been found to be contaminated by excessive levels of nitrate, which has been determined to be carcinogenic in animals. The magazine termed current research on the effects of nitrates in humans as "disturbingly incomplete," but said, "Scientists are certain, however, that nitrate in large doses can pose a threat to babies... In 1986, an infant in South Dakota died after being fed formula made with water from a private well with exceedingly high levels of nitrate." The EPA estimates that as many as 17 million Americans may be threatened by excessive levels of radon, a radioactive gas that permeates ground water at the highest levels in New Jersey, New England and the Western Mountain states. Preliminary studies have found that drinking water with radon can double the risk of soft-tissue cancers. Waterborne illnesses are on the rise. Municipal water plants use filters and disinfectants such as chlorine to control the spread of microbes, but evidence suggests many microbes are resistant to chlorine and some are small enough to get through filters. Water is both chlorinated and filtered in Carrollton, Ga., but in 1987, water contaminated by a chlorine-resistant parasite led to the illness of 13,000 residents. And Montreal researchers have found one-third of all gastrointestinal illnesses are caused by drinking water. Although 70 percent of Americans drink chlorinated water, "its safety over the long term is uncertain," the magazine states. A study by the National Cancer Institute found that drinking chlorinated water may double the risk of bladder cancer, which strikes about 40,000 people annually. Scientists also have discovered that chlorine reacts with organic material in water, such as decaying leaves, to produce hundreds of chemical byproducts, including chloroform. A 1987 study of 1,000 top-priority "Super-fund" hazardous waste sites revealed four out of every five sites were leaking toxins into ground water. Our ground water supplies are being threatened not only by these major Super-fund sites and large chemical plants, but by small businesses such as dry cleaners and service stations. A Congressional study found about 10 percent of the nation's 1.4 million underground gasoline tanks are leaking. The U.S. News & World Report issue warns, "While assessing the health risks of a single chemical is difficult, evaluating the effects when two or more chemicals are combined is even trickier. In regulating drinking water, officials have looked at the risks from each contaminant individually. But in fact, studies show that some chemicals are much more lethal when mixed together."
What about other beverages? If all this makes you lose your taste for drinking tap water, don't think that soft drinks are any safer. In Water Can Undermine Your Health, Dr. Walker includes a 12-page chapter detailing a hazardous list of sweeteners, dyes, artificial flavors, chemicals used for "fiz," etc., that compose colas and other artificial beverages popular among both adults and children. He warns these chemicals are much more dangerous than the inorganic minerals in tap water. For example:
Several aniline dyes, usually listed on the ingredients only as "artificial coloring," include Amaranth (red), Bordeaux (brown), Orange I (yellow) and Ponceau (scarlet). Dr. Walker writes that these dyes are derived from compounding nitrogen and benzene, and that benzene is obtained from the distillation of coal. Benzene "is used as a motor fuel, as a solvent for resins, rubber, etc. and... it is an ingredient in coloring beverages. As chemical compounds, these dyes are harmful because they afflict the nerve system and the cerebrospinal fluid." Caramel, a common ingredient in soft drinks, is obtained by combining sugar, molasses or glucose with ammonia, and heating to more than 350 degrees. Dr. Walker states, "The use of caramel tends to throw the blood out of balance, causing heart trouble which is intensified by the presence of ammonia. When used in excessive amounts it can cause mental and other disorders, particularly in children." "Sugar," Dr. Walker writes, "is one of the most harmful ingredients used in the manufacture of soft drinks... Sugar causes irritation and weakening of the mucous membranes of the body and robs teeth, bones and blood of a great percentage of their minerals. Inflammatory diseases of the breathing and digestive organs result from the use of white and brown sugar." Other diseases caused or worsened by the use of sugar include appendicitis, diabetes, cancer and poliomyelitis, a painful, crippling disease caused by inflammation of the gray matter in the spinal chord.
Dr. Walker summarizes his argument against these artificial, chemical-laden concoctions by asking, "If the labels were marked POISON, would you buy them?" He then provides the definition of poison as: "Any agent which, introduced into the organism may chemically produce an injurious or deadly effect. That which taints or destroys purity; to exert a baneful influence, to corrupt."
And in a brief chapter on alcohol, Dr. Walker notes this is the only substance which can pass through the walls of the stomach directly into the bloodstream and to the brain. This has noticeable immediate and long-term ill effects to the brain, eyes and equilibrium. "Of all the beverages best left alone, alcoholic beverages are Number ONE," he writes.
So, we have determined that our body must have water to function. But when we analyze the ingredients and effects from three of America's most common beverages -- tap water, soft drinks and alcohol -- it's enough to kill our thirst. The remaining questions, then, are: From what sources should we obtain water? And how much water do we need?
Bragg writes that the human body "loses about three-and-a-half quarts (of water) daily in perspiration, respiration, urine and defecation." Dr. Walker writes that a person should expel a gallon of liquid a day in these functions. Obviously, if we are expelling 3 1/2 to 4 quarts of water a day, we must be replacing this water to avoid dehydration and to keep our bodily fluids in balance. To consume this much pure water, Dr. Walker recommends drinking at least one to two pints of steam distilled water a day, "plus as much fresh raw vegetable juices as possible," and eat a diet composed largely of raw fruits and vegetables.
"In their natural raw state, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds for man, grains and hay for animals, are composed of from 60 to 95 percent water. This is pure DISTILLED WATER," Dr. Walker explains. As a contrast, he notes, "Processed cereals contain only from 7 to 13 percent water. The average water content of bread is only between 35 and 40 percent... The most dehydrated people on earth are those who live on massive quantities of processed cereals, bread and meat, drinking very little water except perhaps in their coffee or tea and in soft drinks." Food in its natural state (raw) contains a high percentage of pure, naturally distilled water because it takes 15 gallons of water to grow an ounce of vegetation. When a good supply of distilled water is not available, you can replenish your body's water supply by eating fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.
And unlike the harmful, inorganic minerals in water, the organic minerals in raw fruits and vegetables can be utilized by the body for nutrition. Dr. Walker emphasizes the fastest way of providing our cells with the nourishment they need is through the freshly-extracted juices of raw fruits and vegetables.
What types of water are available? The Choice is Clear by Dr. Allen E. Banik offers a good explanation of the many different types of water available. For example:
Raw water "is water that has not been treated in any way." It may contain inorganic minerals, cancer-causing chemicals dumped into rivers and can be densely inhabited by millions of viruses and bacteria. Chlorinated water "kills most germs and viruses, but it can also kill the cells in our bodies," he notes. Boiled water kills the bacteria in raw water (if it is boiled for at least 20 minutes). But, Dr. Banik warns "the dead bodies of these germs" are carried into our body when we drink boiled water. These dead germs "furnish a fertilized soil for rapid and lusty propagation of germs already in the body." Boiling water does not remove any inorganic minerals or chemicals. Mineral water from certain mineral springs are reputed to have medicinal qualities. The reason for "this so-called medicinal effect is because the body tries to throw off the excess minerals which invade it as intruding foreign deposits... To subsist on this type of water could be detrimental," he writes. Filtered water can remove chlorine, some suspended solids and many synthetic chemicals, but "there is no filter made which can prevent bacteria or viruses from passing through its fine meshes. Each pore of the finest filter is large enough for millions of germs to pass through... Moreover, decaying matter collects on the bottom of every filter. This forms an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. After a filter has been used for a few days, the filtered water often contains more disease germs than the water which is put into the filter." De-ionized water effectively removes minerals, but its resin beds become "a breeding ground for bacteria, pyrogenic matter and viruses... Furthermore, di-ionization does not remove synthetic chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, insecticides or industrial solvents," Dr. Banik writes. Reverse Osmosis "removes a high percentage of the dissolved solids as well as other contaminants, and when new the result often approaches the purity of distilled water." But the purity varies with the "conditions of the equipment used, much as with filter equipment, and the effectiveness lessens with use. Sometimes drastically!" Rain water has been naturally distilled by the heat of the sun. But it becomes contaminated as it "falls through air filled with bacteria, dust, smoke, chemicals, mud and minerals. By the time it reaches the earth as rain water, it is so saturated with decaying matter, dirt and chemicals that its color becomes a yellowish-white." Snow is even dirtier.
What is distilled water? Distillation is nature's way of purifying water. When the sun heats water, this causes evaporation... an example of distillation on the grand scale. Vapor rises from the surface of water, leaving behind all its impurities. These water vapors rise and cool as air temperature in the upper atmosphere drops, and the vapors change from gas to liquid, becoming water, ice or snow. If our atmosphere were not polluted, each drop of rain or snow would be pure H20.
The production of distilled drinking water is man's attempt to copy nature's form of water purification. As with evaporation in nature, distillation actually removes water (in the form of steam vapor) from the heavier materials that are its impurities. Other types of water treatment attempt to remove contaminants from water, rather than removing water from the contaminants.
This is how distillation with a WATERWISE distiller works: In the boiling chamber of the distiller, tap water is heated to 212 degrees, killing bacteria and viruses. The heat produces steam, which rises, leaving behind inorganic minerals, chemicals and other contaminants in the boiling tank. As the water temperature rises, the light gases boil off and are discharged through the gaseous vent. A stainless steel condenser cools the steam, turning it into high quality distilled water. This water passes from the condenser through an optional post carbon filter, and the purified distilled water is collected in a reservoir.