Thursday, July 14, 2005

How water can heal your body, help you lose weight, and make you feel better: Part 2

Water: Internal and External

We need water both inside and outside of our bodies.

Outside because water cleans our bodies, gets rid of bacteria, and makes you feel better. Not to mention the cleaning that water does for our homes, our cars, and our clothing.

In fact, if you would ever like to be really surprised, do something different the next time you wash a load of laundry. Put the clothing in your washing machine, and don’t put any detergent in the wash load. None. Zero.

Then run the load like you normally do. What will surprise you is that the clothes will be almost as clean as if you had put the detergent in like you normally do. Perhaps not completely as clean, but just about.

This is the dirty secret of the detergent manufacturers: water does 90% of the work. Maybe more. Detergent makes the water more “slippery,” and helps it out. But in most cases -- especially when the laundry is not heavily soiled, as is true for most Americans -- detergent-less washing would do the trick just fine.

But this isn’t a magic trick -- it’s an attempt to make you realize what an amazing substance water is, and how -- if it can do amazing things outside of your body -- it can do even greater things on the inside of your body.

By its very nature, water can hold other substances. That’s why dirty water can be a problem: because it can contain bacteria, pollutants, and other things harmful to your body.

I mentioned the well-known problems travelers can have with drinking water. That’s because in some countries, water treatment is not yet up to the level it is in the US. I’ll talk about that later on when I talk about traveling and water. But some Americans worry about problems with clean, treated tap water in the US. They wonder if it is really clean. They wonder if it has bacteria. They are afraid it might have pollutants.

The good news is that almost all tap water in the US is safe to drink. That doesn’t mean it will necessarily taste good, or smell good. I remember as a child going to the coast of North and South Carolina, and having difficulty drinking the tap water there, not because it was “bad,” but because it has a distinctly salty taste. Again, it was perfectly safe to drink, but different from what I was used to. For smell, there are some water supplies that have, for instance, a distinct sulfur odor. For those of you who have not smelled sulfur, it’s a little like the smell of rotten eggs: a really nasty smell. But many of these water supplies are completely safe to drink. The taste is usually not even affected by the sulfur odor. But if it’s really unpleasant, you might want to switch to bottled water while visiting those areas. (Of course, the alternative is simply to hold your nose -- I’m not joking -- when drinking, and it probably won’t bother you at all).

While we’re on the subject of water, it’s important to realize there are several types of bottled water. All of them are slightly different. And since bottled water can range from relatively cheap to amazingly expensive, it’s worth knowing the differences.

Bottled tap water

Bottled tap water is just what it says it is: water from the tap in a bottle. Now, depending on where the water is bottled, it can taste good or bad, but again, that’s solely dependent on the water, because it’s straight out of the tap. I’m not exactly sure why people buy bottled tap water when they live in the area where the water is bottled, but they do. And they usually pay $.99 a gallon for it around here. How about just drinking it straight from the tap? It’s a bit cheaper.

Spring water

Spring water is taken from a particular spring, that is, a freely flowing water source. Since water bottlers are usually regulated by a state agency, the water is probably safe, and may be good. It’s important to remember that absolutely pure water has no taste at all: it derives its taste from any minerals in the water. Some springs will have more minerals, some less, and you might want to try some bottles to see if you like them.

Distilled water

Distilled water is processed to remove any minerals, and while it is perfectly good for you, it will have a blah taste. Most distilled water is sold for such purposes as ironing clothes. (It should also be pointed out that your body needs certain minerals. Drinking water is one of the pleasant ways of getting them).

Mineral Water

Mineral water is closely related to spring water, and it is usually water from a particular spring, sometimes with carbonation added. Carbonation -- if added -- does nothing to “hurt” the water, but when added, most people tend to think of it as something related to soft drinks, and the price is usually higher. There’s certainly nothing wrong with drinking mineral water, but if you are seeking to conserve money (as well as cure your body!) you might want to reserve it for a special treat.

I’ll repeat what I said earlier: most tap water in the US (and for that matter, Canada, most of Europe, and much of the rest of the world) is perfectly good. When in doubt, either check a guide book (if you’re traveling) or ask your local water and sewer system. They can provide helpful information, and perhaps put your mind at rest.

(to be continued)


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