Water

More about water for a healthy brain

More about water for a healthy brain

It is clear a significant proportion of your brain and body is composed of the humble molecule known as water. Without it and your brain will die. It is plain and simple as this. Therefore you should be drinking plenty of water. We recommend drinking the cleanest and freshest water you can find in your local region. The cleaner the water, the less work the body has to do to filter out the harmful contaminants. And the less harmful contaminants there are in your body, the more efficient and effective your body and brain can achieve its job of achieving various goal(s) in life.

At the same time, drinking too much pure water (with no other foods) can be a problem too. Since water is used by the body to filter out contaminants, some useful electrolytes needed by cells (including blood cells) can also get progressively removed over time until there is a shortage. Without adequate replenishment of the electrolytes in water (which can be found mixed with some harmful contaminants in water flowing in streams, or through other foods), it can cause a serious biological effect. The issue with pure water lies in the fact that this water can be easily absorbed into the cells and make them swell. Why? The cells are trying to absorb the ions it needs, which means extra water gets absorbed. If the cells cannot get enough ions, the extra water can cause them to burst. Not good considering this effect can lead to coma and eventually death. With pure water, you generally have to drink less because the body has little need for extra water to remove contaminants. If the water contains natural contaminants, you generally need to drink more. But if you intend to drink only pure water, make sure you eat foods containing adequate levels of essential minerals needed by the body to perform at its best. Foods such as fresh oysters, strawberries, and quality vegetable juice would definitely be an excellent start.

Assuming you are absorbing adequate levels of electrolytes, pure water has also been scientifically shown to reduce the number of free radicals in your body. This means you will age more slowly because the free radicals (i.e. electrically-charged molecular fragments produced as a by-product of biochemical reactions or simply from radiation in the environment penetrating the body and breaking apart stable molecules) emitting harmful radiation of their own as they move around in the body and affect the genetic information stored in DNA are neutralised. This is a proven fact and one recommended by NASA for its astronauts when working in space.

In essence, you will be extending your lifespan simply by drinking clean water.

Pure water, the one containing absolutely no salts, minerals and bacteria, is available in the marketplace such as Ultra Pure (in Australia), and the scientifically-proven to be clean of all impurities known as Pureau (televised in a current affairs program in 2002). Real water should have absolutely no taste (because there are no impurities) for maximum health unless you are a marathon runner, in which case some extra sugar and minerals (and certain other electrolytes) may have to be added to pure water for your best health. As for for everyone else, pure water is perfect. Just make sure you eat a balanced diet of fresh foods with the water to get all the nutrients the body needs. So do your body a favour and try it out. You'll feel better if you do.

UPDATE
28 March 2005

A recent test of bottled water in Australia has shown that there are many products claiming to be pure and fresh. You should be aware that there are two types of bottled waters: one type containing a mixture of water and minerals, and the other type known as pure water with absolutely no impurities. A study of the bottled waters containing minerals (hopefully from natural underground sources) show there is little difference between this kind of water and the one that comes out of your tap. Only chlorine may be in slightly higher concentrations in tap water (necessary to kill bacteria and may be in higher amounts in times of droughts and low water supplies in public dams). But if the dam water is in plentiful quantities and regularly replenished for cleanliness, tap water is essentially no different from bottled waters containing minerals from underground. For the highest water quality, we strongly recommend that you try genuinely pure water with absolutely no impurities. This will provide you with the most health benefits for the brain the body. On the other hand, if such pure water is unavailable but you just need to hydrate yourself without worrying about too many impurities that may interfere with the water's absorption into the body or create additional free radicals or potentially other health problems, any kind of water will do.

UPDATE
17 April 2005

There has been talk of a new type of water called Miracle Water (later changed to Unique Water to avoid legal problems about the extreme claims the title was suggesting, and again to Aqua Gilgamesh for the consumers in Canada buying the product).

First discovered by a 54-year-old Australian veterinarian named Russell John Beckett while observing the remarkably long lifespan of a large number of sheep drinking a certain type of creek water on a property in the Sutherland Shire, the water is claimed to have "magic properties" capable of improving the health of people who drink it.

Although little scientific work has been done by the makers of Unique Water to determine whether the long lifespan of the sheep was due to good genes or good treatment by the farmer and not just the water, there is some support for the idea that this water could improve health and longevity.

By the very nature of the water molecule itself, this chemical is already a good neutraliser of free radicals in the body. The molecule already has slightly negative and positive charges at opposite ends of the molecule to surround and neutralise free radicals. In the more extreme cases, the water molecule can split apart into a positive and negative free radical to rapidly neutralise more harmful free radicals moving through the body. This is why scientists have recommended to US astronauts to drink plenty of water to help combat free radicals caused by excessive radiation exposure while living and working in space.

However the water in this commercial product sold by Mr Beckett is rich in a particular mineral known as magnesium bicarbonate. According to Mr Beckett, it is claimed this chemical is the prime reason why animals live longer when it is consumed on a regular basis.

Magnesium bicarbonate is an alkaline substance. Its slightly negative charge helps to neutralise (if taken in reasonable quantities) the positive charge of numerous harsh chemicals in the body. That is why doctors often prescribe magnesium bicarbonate to patients who suffer from upset stomachs. The alkaline substance helps to neutralise hydrochloric acid (i.e. the positive hydrogen ions released by the chlorine in water) thereby relieving the discomfort of excessive acid attack on the stomach lining.

However, the big problem with this slightly alkaline water product is exactly how much of this alkaline substance should be allowed to be consumed by the human body to neutralise the more positively-charged free radicals? Too much magnesium bicarbonate could possibly cause harm to the body in a different way, such as creating more negative free radicals. And even if the negative free radicals could be neutralised, what happens to the extra magnesium in the body? Where does it all go?

Fortunately for the makers of Magic Water, the concentrations of magnesium bicarbonate is not considered high, so it should be reasonably safe to consume in large quantities.

Until a more thorough study on the effects of magnesium bicarbonate on the human body is conducted to determine the health benefits, we recommend sticking to pure water. Only pure water can provide the right amount of the slightly negative and positive charges surrounding each water molecule needed to neutralise a much wider range of free radicals when they immediately interact with the water. Where the water is not needed to neutralise the free radicals (i.e. there are no free radicals), the water can hang around in the body without causing harm until it is expelled in urine or sweat. In the case of magnesium bicarbonate, excess amounts of this chemical in the body (assuming it is absorbed properly) has yet to be proven scientifically to have a benefit to your health.

In particular, what happens to the excess magnesium? What does it all go? And what is the carbonate component doing in the body?

UPDATE
11 February 2006

A US study published by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group, has stated the number of bottled water products sold to consumers globally has more than doubled in the past six years. According to the study, such high demand for bottled water is considered so great, the consumption of this type of product could be causing serious environmental problems on the Earth.

No, it hasn't got to do with the extra amounts of urination taking place by the human population through higher consumption of bottled water which is putting stress on the environment (we say, "Put it all on a big enough orchard of lemon trees and they will love it, and it may even help to reduce the global warming problems!" or "Let your lemon trees take the piss out of you!"). Apparently it has to do with the packaging used to hold the water, the cost of transporting it and its contents, as well as the high growth rate of the bottled water industry which has seen water shortages develop in some areas.

As the author of the study, Ms Emily Arnold, said:

"Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing, producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy.

'At as much as $US2.50 [A$3.40] per litre, bottled water costs more than petrol." (The Sydney Morning Herald: Bottled water damned as drain on world resources. 11-12 February 2006, p.17.)

In an attempt to solve the environmental problems posed by the humble plastic bottle, Arnold argued the case that the quality of tap water is, for the most part, just as healthy as bottled water. And on a purely economic level the cost of bottled water is nearly 10,000 times more than tap water. Therefore, based on these two arguments alone, it would be silly to purchase bottled water.

And anyway, drinking tap water saves on greenhouse gas emission when it comes to transporting water to the people.

Accepting the current situation with the environment as the Earth warms up, human population increases, and water supplies dwindling, this is a highly reasoned solution. When faced with the problem of reducing bottles ending up in landfill and delivering drinking water to the masses using existing technologies of either pipes or containers, pipes win out every time. However the study assumes the pipe systems, the treatment that takes place to provide drinking water in taps, and the minerals already existent in natural water (in dams and rivers) are healthy to the human body at all times.

Is this true?

For instance, can copper pipes (still in use in some parts of the world) cause problems to people's health? Can too much chlorine damage our bodies in ways we have not seen before? Do we need the extra minerals (including the toxic ones such as mercury and dioxins from nearby polluting industries or where there is a chance the contaminated water can seep into natural fresh water supplies)?

Unfortunately there is nothing in the study to show how human health is affected by water and its contaminants coming out of a tap. In third world countries where people need to survive, this may not be important. "Any water is good water," as the people say in Africa. Just so long as it doesn't cause dissentry or turn our faces blue, then it should be alright. But for many developed nations experiencing a heavily burdened health and aged care system where pollutants in the water could cause bigger health problems (e.g. reduced sperm quality and intestinal cancer), a quality water supply has to be seen as paramount.

To solve the range of health, economics and environmental problems posed by the water bottle, the study should have looked into alternative ways of producing bottles to carry beverages, how the bottles can be transported in a safer way, and methods of purifying water from any source to the point where businesses need not have to create water shortages in areas of limited fresh water supplies.

For example, instead of using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) derived from limited crude oil supplies to produce the bottles (which we understand has a lifespan of up to 1,000 years to biodegrade), why not use another type of material which is natural and easily recycled (or will break down quicker)? Glass comes to mind for a start. Or why not a metal bottle (avoid the aluminium variety, and definitely those made of lead) for something different? Both are easy to recycle.

Or better still, people should carry there own recyclable bottles and fill them up from a central location (e.g., a supermarket). In this way, the water can be purified to the highest level and any problems of plastic bottles ending up in landfill are virtually eliminated.

As for water shortages, it is true high human population levels, high demand for bottled water, and the impact of some businesses (e.g. Coca-Cola) taking out vast amounts of water to make the bottled and highly sugary product does have an effect on water availability in a given area. In this situation, it would make no difference if the businesses decided to put in pipes and let people drink the water out of a tap. The water shortages would still remain.

Perhaps if businesses employed better water purification techniques to make pure water from any source, businesses would not have to be stationed in areas where water could reach low levels at certain times.

And if the warmer and drier conditions in some parts of the world due to global warming could be reversed, increased rainfall could see many of the observed water shortages resolved in next to no time.

And what about reducing human population levels? Wouldn't this reduce the demand on water in any form?

As for transport vehicles, new technologies such as compressed air engines, biofuels and electric motors are available today and could make a significant difference in solving greenhouse gas emissions.

In summary, the real argument here has to do with the packaging to hold the water. The solution is simply to use recyclable materials for the packaging for holding the water. If not glass, then why not a metal made of iron, or the chemically-inert titanium? Provide the consumers with this packaging and ask them to re-use and a place to re-fill, and these people will come back again and again at a local supermarket to have it refilled and later brought to the counter for payment. Problem solved.

UPDATE
26 April 2006

Australian Channel 9 television program A Current Affairs reveals today the results of the latest study on bottled and tap water. The results suggest some commercial bottled water have much higher bacterial count per millilitre compared to tap water. Scientists claim 100 bacterial counts or less per millilitre is a reasonable indicator of water quality. Tap water is around the 100 mark (usually because of the presence of chlorine). But some bottled water from Fiji and other locations can have a count of 10,000 or more. Having this amount of bacteria doesn't mean the water is unhealthy. The test on three crucial bacteria including E. Coli showed no available bottled or tap water contained these microorganisms. But again we are none the wiser of the health benefits of consuming large amounts of tap water compared to absolutely pure (i.e. no bacteria, salts or other impurities). The only thing we are told by a dentist is that bottled water won't contain fluoride and as such people may experience a heightened level of tooth decay. However, what is not explained by the doctor or the study is whether using a fluoride toothpaste is adequate to prevent tooth decay.

Determining the long-term health benefits of tap water and genuinely pure water after say 10 or 20 years of consumption is still not known. The only argument given against not consuming bottled water is the cost — we are told it costs more than petrol compared to the much lower costs of tap water.

UPDATE
11 November 2006

An investigation by The Sydney morning Herald has found five Australian bottlers of water have paid A$1,100 each to Australian Certified Organics to get authorisation that the water sold is organic and then use the claim on the bottles.

As more and more consumers turn to organic foods, some food manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon thinking the profits will be bigger if they do. However to say water is organic doesn't help consumers to know if the liquid is truly healthy. Also the term organic could be used to describe mineral water obtained from the ground as well as pure water (e.g. purified rainwater).

As Sam Mancuso, a spokesman for the bottled water company Snowy Mountains, said:

"It's [the organic label] just a new term for natural...or pure." (Burke, Kelly. Bottlers battle for organic dollar: The Sydney Morning Herald. 11-12 November 2006, p.3.)

Technically speaking water from the ground or pure water is always organic in the sense that it is available from "natural" sources. But it doesn't help the consumer to know exactly what they are drinking. Using a label on a bottle of water to claim it is organic is a marketing ploy to get consumers to buy more bottled water of any kind.

Some people are considering a more strict definition for organic to involve some kind of growing and harvesting before the organic label can be used on any product.

Still need water to be tasty to drink?

Ignoring this interesting debate surrounding water, it is true that not everyone may enjoy the taste of pure water. If you still want flavour in your water, buy fresh fruits and use a blender to mix the fruits with absolutely pure water. Some of the vitamins in the fruits may help to further protect your body from free radicals and strengthen your immune system in the process. But don't fortify the drink with artificial vitamins, especially in high doses. A sudden imbalance in your vitamin intake where one vitamin dominates the others may actually cause you more health problems than you realise. For example, evidence is emerging high doses of Vitamin A or even small quantities of extra Vitamin A in your diet over a long period of time on its own (e.g. 1.5mg per day for many years) may actually reduce the density of your bones. In fact, too much fat-soluble vitamins A and D from consuming Fish oil supplements and cod liver oil can lead to hypervitaminosis. Always use fresh fruits and vegetables to get a combination of all the natural chemicals needed to balance this effect of Vitamin A. Our bodies have been developed over millions of years to cope with the natural chemicals in our foods, not so for the artificial vitamin pills mankind has created.