Water should be simple. Two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen – and that’s it, you’ve got everything you need for one of the most basic elements on earth. But basic isn’t always simple, and water is much more complex than H2O.
Last week I sent you an e-Alert about the advantages of drinking distilled water (“A La Carte” 5/14/03). And while all of those advantages are genuine, an HSI member named Irene wrote to raise this question:
“I am confused about drinking distilled water, having been told in the past by a couple of different health professionals that it is excellent to drink it for about 4 – 6 weeks to detox the body but not for longer. The reason they give is that they say distilled watercontains no natural minerals and being very soft actually has a chelating effect drawing necessary minerals out of the body. I would really appreciate the opinion of HSI research on this view.”
To sort out the “pure” from the “impure” on this topic, I asked HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., for his thoughts on distilled water:
“Right off the bat, given the amazingly sorry state (in my opinion) of most municipal water supplies, I’d have to say that distilled water is a far superior solution (and fairly simple). If you live at the source of the river, that’s lucky for you, but every town along the river below you is processing and drinking your WASTE WATER (fun thought)! I still remember flying over Knoxville, TN, and seeing 2 immense pipes dumping waste water directly into the Tennessee River. Since I lived in Chattanooga, 100 miles downstream, it gave me pause to think!
“The solution, other than ozonation and ultraviolet irradiation (a European solution but more expensive), is to dump highly reactive chemicals in to kill obviously undesirable organisms (predominantly chlorine). Then add some aluminum compounds to help clarify it (yep), and some toxic waste products from the aluminum industry (ie, fluoride, ostensibly to help with our teeth, but don’t get me started) and you have some neat municipal drinking water.
“Give me distilled over that anytime.
“Now, that said, I have to agree with the reader over the long haul. One of (by far) the most brilliant men of the recent era, Dr. Hans Nieper, (M.D. and Ph.D.) was against the long term ingestion of distilled water due to the fact that there were no minerals on board to give it a ‘charge’ as opposed to being pure H2O (which doesn’t occur in nature). There does exist research (from more than one source) suggesting that even the intake of minerals from food doesn’t make up for high-volume intake of totally mineral-free water in terms of maintaining health. For sure the final chapter isn’t in yet on this issue.
“The problem is, it’s a Catch 22 – the simple stuff is toxic, and really pure, clean, natural water is very difficult to obtain. Everyone wants to sell spring water because they can charge more, but getting reliable stuff is tough. What do you do?
“To me, reputable, (expensive), deep-well artesian spring water is the best to drink, but finding and affording it is tougher.
“Maybe we should all just switch to soft drinks and beer and forget the whole thing.”
I’m sure that Dr. Spreen is kidding with that last comment. (At least I think he is.) In any case, drinking distilled water is obviously a far better choice than tap water or many bottled waters, but should probably not be used as your one and only solution to the problem of contaminated water.
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute