Did you know that more than half of the human body is water? Yep, we’re made of somewhere between 55-65% water.1 Water serves several essential functions in our bodies, making it one of the most important aspects of a well-balanced diet. Thankfully, we can meet our hydration needs through various sources, including foods and beverages.
But one of the most common water sources is, of course, drinking water. However, not all drinking waters are the same, so what is the best water to drink? (Phew! Try saying that five times fast.)
This article will review the health benefits of meeting our water needs and look at the different types of water available so the next time you fill up your water bottle, you’re choosing the best option for your needs.
Why Do You Need Water?
Getting enough water is critical to our overall health. But, why is water considered a nutrient? Great question! Even though it may seem plain (and even a little boring sometimes) it’s packed with nutrients to help the body function and manage many processes, like reducing inflammation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water is critical in transporting oxygen to your cells, regulating body temperature, maintaining electrolyte balance, and so much more.2 Hydrogen and oxygen get most of the hype, but water also contains other influential components.
Common minerals found in water can include:
Calcium supports bone development, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
Chlorine is essential in forming hydrochloric aid, which is critical to our digestive process.
Chromium plays a vital role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats through its role in enzymatic reactions.
Copper helps to improve the functionality of many enzymes found in the blood and muscles.
Fluorine, often known as fluoride, helps support bone development and prevent tooth decay.
Iodide plays a critical role in the synthesis of hormones that are involved in growth and development.
Iron is key for the production of red blood cells and muscle function.
The body relies on magnesium for bone formation, lipid metabolism, and protein synthesis. It is also critical in the nervous system and for muscular activity.
Manganese plays an important role in the metabolism of protein and sugar while also supporting bone development and the immune system.
Molybdenum supports neurological health through its role in the production of the enzymes associated with uric acid.
Potassium is critical in the body’s acid-base balance, osmotic pressure, and water retention.
Sodium plays a significant role in regulating cell permeability and is an essential component of bodily fluids such as blood plasma.
Sulfur is an essential building block for amino acids, including those used to create our cartilage, hair, and nails. It’s also a necessary component of enzyme activity that supports processes like intestinal movements and cellular respiration.
What Are The Types of Water Out There?
Most of us think water is water, and in the big picture, that’s true. But there are many different types of water beyond different water companies. Differences in water quality and content can affect water's taste and nutrition.
Tap water is the water you can get straight from the faucet at home. It can come from a privately owned well or a municipal water source like a river, dam, or reservoir. It is one of America's most commonly consumed waters and is typically used for cooking, cleaning, and washing.
Tap water often contains fluoride to help protect tooth enamel, and is considered generally safe to drink, thanks to environmental safety regulations in place. Most local municipalities regulate the safety of their water sources, but some tap waters contain trace contaminants that, while deemed safe by EPA standards, are still worrisome. These may include aluminum, plastic, and other metals. Furthermore, tap water is commonly treated with chlorine which can be harmful in large doses.
Spring water typically rises naturally to the surface from an underground source. So, it cannot be pumped from an underground aquifer and should be bottled at the site.
Spring water has a naturally occurring, mineral-rich content, which can vary based on the sourcing location. Many factors can determine the mineral profile of natural spring water, including the climate, soil, and geolocation. If spring water is stored in a sanitary container, free from synthetic materials, it is likely to be one of the purest waters available to consumers.
Alkaline water contains ionized water that is said to boost the pH level and make it less acidic than other types of water. It typically comes from sources that are near mineral-rich volcanoes and has a higher pH of around 8-9 on a scale of 1-14.
While areas in the world are home to naturally occurring alkaline water, most alkaline water on the shelves is not natural. Most alkaline water brands reduce the acidity of tap water artificially.
There are many health claims regarding the purported health benefits of alkaline water (like slowing the aging process and preventing cancer). Still, there is minimal research to back up such claims. And it’s important to remember that too much alkalinity in the body can also negatively affect your health.
Distilled water has undergone a distillation process during which the water is vaporized and then condensed back to its liquid state. Since inorganic minerals and other heavy metals have a higher boiling point than water, they get left behind and are separated from the water as it’s collected in liquid form.
Unfortunately, distilled water lacks many of the minerals our bodies need. As a result, it may affect your potassium, chloride, sodium, and magnesium levels if used as your primary source of hydration. However, since it is free of potentially harmful impurities like nitrates and pesticides, many people use this “sanitized water” in medical procedures, kitchen appliances, automobiles, and other machines.
Mineral water also comes from an underground source, but it must naturally contain 250 parts per million of minerals from dissolved solids, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mineral water is rich in sulfur, manganese, magnesium, and calcium.
Since it is rich in specific nutrients, many people choose mineral water for their drinking water.
Purified water is often tap water that has undergone treatment, such as reverse osmosis, distillation, ozonation, or absolute one-micron filtration. The purification process removes potentially harmful contaminants like bacteria, fungi, and parasites to make it potable.
Unfortunately, the purification process can also remove beneficial aspects of the water, like important minerals and probiotic bacteria.
What Are The Best Waters to Drink For Your Health and Why
Is there such a thing as the healthiest water? To keep it simple, as long as the water has undergone all the safety measures needed to remove potentially harmful impurities or pathogens, it can generally be considered “healthy water.” However, some waters may highlight different health claims based on their contents.
Bottled water can come from many different sources, and water companies may promote their products with a variety of health claims. Thankfully, bottled waters are regulated by the FDA and are subject to recall if they fail to meet safety standards.
All types of water can be beneficial to our overall health, playing a role in preventing constipation, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and much more. However, below are three types of water that truly deserve their hype:
Spring water can be an excellent choice for general health needs and specifically for pregnancy needs. During pregnancy, women may experience a decrease in minerals, such as iron and calcium, and spring water may help bridge the gap. Still, it’s essential to drink water tested by a third party to ensure its quality and safety.
Filtered Tap Water
Sometimes convenience is the most crucial aspect of supporting our overall health. For example, using a filter on your tap water source can make meeting your hydration needs convenient and feasible.
Mineral water can be an excellent choice for those hydrating with a focus on their overall health, but it can also be a perfect choice for those trying to improve their heart health. Depending on its mineral content, mineral water can help improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
What Are Unsafe Waters to Drink And How To Avoid Them
Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are regulations in place that ensure the safety of our public water systems. Still, water sources are at risk for pollution and contamination from threats like agricultural runoff, industrial pollution, animal waste, and other harmful pathogens.
It’s best to avoid wastewater or any water affected by human activity. Additionally, we should avoid drinking stormwater. As rain or snowmelt precipitation flows over the ground, they pick up surface-level pollutants like fertilizers, oils, and other dangers that make this water unsafe for humans, livestock, and pets.
Before taking a sip, it’s important to know what water is safe to drink. Ways to check your water’s safety include:
Check the source
More important than checking the brand (Dasani, Evian, Fiji, etc.), it’s important to check your water’s source. Water can be sourced from various places, but some require additional steps in the purification process.
Check if water has been tested
Third-party testing can be especially important for water undergoing any purification process. It offers the consumer additional peace of mind that the health claims are substantial.
Consider using water filters
Consider using a water filter on your tap to ensure you're drinking clean water. Most filters use activated charcoal to catch unwanted contaminants before they make it to your glass or water bottle. In addition, filters can be installed on your faucet or in your refrigerator to make drinking filtered water more convenient than ever.
How Does Water Affect Blood Sugar?
Water plays a crucial role in maintaining the healthy function of many biological systems in the body, including those involved in blood sugar control. So, does drinking water lower blood sugar? Well, water flushes our system, so it can actually help remove excess blood glucose.3
Increased water intake allows the kidneys to process and flush excess glucose out through our urine which ultimately helps prevent blood sugar levels from trending high. Meeting our hydration needs can also help prevent overeating, proactively preventing blood sugar spikes.
There isn’t a designated recommendation for daily water intake. An individual’s necessary water intake largely depends on age, ethnicity, and activity level. However, The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has found that approximately 11.5 cups and 15.5 cups can be adequate daily fluid intake for women and men, respectively.4
Of course, a few other factors can affect your water needs, such as the climate, health demands, and activity levels. And you don’t want to over do it. Overhydrating can cause fluctuations in your lab values and put you at risk for a variety of health concerns.
Curious about the ins and outs of blood sugar control and monitoring? Come check out the Signos blog to learn more!
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Topics discussed in this article:
- The Water in You: Water and the Human Body Completed. U.S. Geological Survey. (2019, May 22). Retrieved December 15, 2022.
- Water and healthier drinks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 6). Retrieved December 15, 2022.
- Water and Diabetes. Diabetes.co.uk. (2019, January 15). Retrieved December 15, 2022.
- Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. Nationalacademies.org. (2004, February 11). Retrieved December 15, 2022.