How Clean is Your Water?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove & Susan Kent

One of the most common questions I ask my patients is, “Are you drinking enough water?” Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is “No.” I usually follow up with two additional questions. First, “How much water are you drinking?” And then, “What kind of water are you drinking?”

Finding ways to make water more enjoyable and accessible are among the suggestions I make when consulting with patients who need to up their water intake. For me, and many of my patients, having a reverse osmosis water tap makes drinking water easier and more enjoyable, while also removing potentially harmful impurities.

For this week’s article, I’ve asked local water filtration expert, Susan Kent, to share how the reverse osmosis process works, what contaminants are removed, and the benefits of having highly filtered, great tasting water right at the tap.

The desire to have great tasting drinking water is nearly universal. The market is flush with fridge cartridges, replaceable filter pitchers, and faucet carbon filters. While these products can help improve the taste and smell of water, they do not have a significant impact when it comes to removing contaminants.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a filtering method that removes virtually all contaminants from water. It is the highest level of filtration available for home use and produces exceptionally clean, great tasting water.

RO systems use pressure to push water through tiny pores to create pure water. A reverse osmosis system sends your regular tap water through several steps of purification. First, it passes through a sediment pre-filter designed to reduce larger particles such as silt, rust and scale. The second filter is typically an activated carbon pre-filter to help remove substances that can be attributed to tastes and odors. The activated carbon pre-filter is also able to reduce any chlorine that might be present.

Once the sediment and other contaminants have been reduced, the purification process is ready to begin. The RO membrane has a tight pore structure that is 500,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. This membrane filters away contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, inorganic chemicals, pesticides and algae. The contaminants are trapped by the ultra-fine pores in the membrane, then sent down the drain. Water passing through the RO membrane is remarkably pure, but most RO systems will send the water through one final carbon filter to trap any lingering impurities. The result is polished, clean drinking and cooking water. Well maintained reverse osmosis systems reduce contaminants by up to 99.5%.

I am often asked if it is safe to drink unfiltered tap water. We are fortunate to have abundant water sources and generally safe public water systems in the United States, but that does not mean we have perfect water. Traditionally, government organizations play catch up when it comes to identifying what contaminants have found their way into our water, what levels are truly unsafe, and how to remove or prevent them.

Some contaminants, like calcium, manganese (common discoloration of local toilets), and iron are aesthetically displeasing but not inherently harmful. Other contaminants like PFOA/PFOS (also known as “forever chemicals), radionucleotides such as radium and uranium, and nitrates from farming and golf course treatments have been identified by the EPA to cause health issues at certain levels. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals were not regulated until after the harmful effects were established. Some consumers aren’t waiting to see what new chemicals will be added to the EPA’s list. They want more certainty about the water they are consuming and choose RO systems for a higher level of protection.

If you want to see what is in your drinking water, head to www.ewg.org. Click on Consumer Guides, select EWG’s National Tap Water Database, enter your zip code and select your neighborhood. EWG is a nonprofit organization that tests environmental contaminants and reports findings in regard to consumer health. (No need to sign in or give contact information. All information is available to the public for free.)

Reverse osmosis systems do require annual filter changes for the sediment and carbon filters. The membrane typically lasts 2-5 years, depending on usage. Most RO systems are designed for quick and easy filter changes.

Reverse osmosis drinking water produces on-demand, highly purified water and makes daily water consumption easier and more enjoyable. If your goal is staying hydrated and feeling good about the quality of water you are drinking, a reverse osmosis system might be an option for you.

Dr. Alyssa here: Keep in mind reverse osmosis systems cannot differentiate between “bad” ingredients and “good” ones. That means that, in addition to removing harmful contaminants, some of the essential trace minerals that our bodies need for optimal function – such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium — are removed too. Remember, you do not sweat out just water; trace minerals need to be replenished through food or supplementation. Pathways to Healing offers flavored minerals to add back into your water after that sweaty tennis match or long game of golf. You can also buy unflavored minerals online. Trace Minerals is one of my favorite brands and can be found at traceminerals.com.

Susan Kent is the Director, VIP Accounts at Juturna. She can be reached at skent@juturna.com.

Do You Need To Detox?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

When people hear the word “detox,” they often think of drug addicts or alcoholics undergoing therapy to rid themselves of toxins they have put into their bodies. However, these days, it’s becoming more common for people to mention a “detox” (or “cleanse”) in terms of a specific diet program to help rid their bodies of chemicals and toxins, while also encouraging weight loss. This time of year, after all the guilty indulgences of the holidays, people are particularly motivated to “clean up their act.” Many of these detox programs are tempting since they offer a “quick fix” and fast weight loss. 

There are many trendy detoxification plans and programs that promise miraculous results, but are they really healthy and is a detox all about losing weight? The truth is, most detoxes marketed in the media are not healthy — especially the ones that focus on eating or drinking one thing during the course of the cleanse. One example is the “Master Cleanse,” where you drink only lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for several days. Naturally, you will lose weight, and lemon water is good for cleansing the body.  However just doing this alone is not good for your health.

The purpose of a good detox program should be to improve and optimize your body’s own detoxification systems and cleanse the body from the inside out — not just on losing weight. Done correctly, a detox helps decrease the number of toxins we put into our bodies, while also supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

We live in a toxic world and are inundated with a myriad of chemicals on a daily basis. Many times, when we think of environmental toxins, we visualize smog over a city, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes from a car, or pollution from a factory smokestack. What we fail to realize, is that most of our toxic exposure is found indoors rather than outdoors. Like sponges, our bodies absorb toxins from the air we breathe, from the foods we eat, from personal care products we use on our skin and from the toxic things we touch. Municipal water supplies have been found to contain more than 2,100 chemicals. Non-organically grown foods contain pesticides, herbicides and chemicals that our bodies will store in fat cells when they cannot be detoxified. Processed foods are filled with synthetic chemicals such as flavorings, dyes, preservatives, bleaching agents and artificial sweeteners.

Toxins build up over time and can impact the function of our bodies, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, sinus congestion, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, cravings, stubborn weight loss, acne, skin problems and PMS. Environmental toxins can even affect a growing baby in the womb. According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, blood samples taken from umbilical cords were tested and found to contain over 287 contaminants including mercury, pesticides, DDT and even fire retardants, which can alter learning ability, memory, behavior and hearing.

Doing a good detox once or twice a year can help cleanse and improve the body’s detoxification systems. Some simple steps you can take are:

1 Choose to drink pure, refreshing spring water, or quality filtered water, rather than tap water. Water is the body’s most important nutrient, and our body’s natural detoxification process is dependent on good water.

2 Choose to eat REAL FOODS, meaning foods found in nature that can be picked, gathered and hunted. Processed food is filled with a multitude of chemicals. “The less doctored your food, the less doctoring you will need.”

3 Choose to breathe quality air by avoiding exposure to exhaust fumes and secondhand smoke. Wait inside the airport terminal rather than outside on the curb, and limit walking or exercising along busy streets. Studies have shown a relationship between increased pollution and increased plaque in carotid arteries.

4 Choose more natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Something as simple as vinegar and water can be used for windows, mopping floors and various other cleaning chores. You can also find quality choices in grocery stores or health food stores.

5 Choose to exercise. Exercise increases the oxygen in your tissues, improves elimination, builds the strength of bones, muscles and joints, and helps us to sweat, which is important in helping eliminate toxins from the body. We have two to three million sweat glands in our skin. The skin is our largest organ of elimination and sometimes referred to as our “third kidney.”

6 Choose a healthy supplement. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can help your body function more optimally. Also, taking a good quality supplement to support your organs of detoxification is important and beneficial while doing a quality detoxification program.

7 Choose to relax. Getting your body and mind into a relaxed state on a daily basis helps to calm you and improve your body’s detoxification systems.

Choose to “clean up your act” this year with healthy detoxification. If you are interested in receiving a toxicity questionnaire and a list of healthy food replacements that will help you in cleansing your body, please email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com or call 706-454-2040.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro, GA.