#Health and Hygiene

Is there a difference between mineral, bottled and distilled waters? Are all healthy?

Best water to drink
Best water to drink: Eau de Vie, is a French term often used for whiskey, schnapps and other distilled spirits, however, in actuality, water, is the real eau de vie or water of life. The human body itself despite all its solidness, in reality is composed 65% of water and we can go weeks without eating anything, but water is essential to survival and one needs between 2.5 to 3 liters a day to maintain a healthy body. So how does one decide, which kind of water is ideal or suitable for drinking?

A majority of the population believes that packaged bottled water is healthy, most have no idea and are unaware of what they are consuming. Bottled water is a filtration process which removes, germs and bacteria from the ground water and gives people access to clean water, however, this process also removes mostly all the minerals and nutrients that are present in the water and sustained use of bottled water can lead to mineral deficiencies in the body and may entail the use of pills to fulfil the need for minerals and nutrients. Most of the filtered water bottlers are now using the RO (Reverse Osmosis) technology, which allows cleaning the water of nearly all of the harmful organisms and metals from the water and providing clean water to drink. Some even add some minerals and nutrients, while others have also started adding flavours and vitamins to create a new category of healthy waters, which can be substituted for soft drinks, which are in reality harmful to the human body.

The water coming out of your kitchen tap is four billion years old and might well have been sipped by a Tyrannosaurus rex. Rather than only three states of water—liquid, ice, and vapor—there is a fourth, “molecular water,” fused into rock 400 miles deep in the Earth, and that’s where most of the planet’s water is found. Unlike most precious resources, water cannot be used up; it can always be made clean enough again to drink—indeed, water can be made so clean that it’s toxic. Water is the most vital substance in our lives but also more amazing and mysterious than we appreciate. 

drinking too much water

Natural mineral waters, those actually bottled at source and mostly from ancient spa towns, which have been known for the therapeutic and holistic effects on the human body, since the past few centuries, are the best for the human body. They spring from ancient aquifers or come from ancient sources that are untouched by human hands and carry the goodness of the earth, as they make their way through natures’ course, till they are bottled for human consumption. It is a natural profit from a real source that has terroir, holds experiences and gives wellness. Generally, they have a slight mineralised or a sweet taste, depending on the geography of the region from where they hail.  The experience of a fine water should be as close as possible to the experience of drinking the water at source. The gentle bottling of the water at the source is the way of sharing the drinking experience with the consumer. Different waters can be acidic, neutral or sweet, they can be heavy or light and still or even sparkling, if they contain carbonisation at the source, nature’s own non-alcoholic champagne! Moreover, as they have made their way from their sources, they have collected minerals, in miniscule quantities, but beneficial for the human body, as these minerals are often not found elsewhere in nature but water which is bottled at the source itself untouched by civilisation and holds terra. Mineral waters thus, tend to have more flavour and also may feel a little heavy on the palate but this depends on the individual water. Some of the most important minerals found in natural mineral water are enclosed below:

MAGNESIUM (Mg++)

Almost all human cells contain some level of magnesium, and adults need three to four hundred milligrams of magnesium every day. Magnesium is important for the regulation of muscle contractions and the transmission of nerve impulses, and it activates energy-producing enzymes. The bone structure also relies on magnesium, and the element expands blood vessels, which lessens the risk of heart attack. Nervousness, lack of concentration, dizziness, and headaches or migraines may result from magnesium deficiency.

Natural mineral waters, those actually bottled at source and mostly from ancient spa towns, which have been known for the therapeutic and holistic effects on the human body, since the past few centuries, are the best for the human body.

CALCIUM (Ca++)

Adults need about eight hundred milligrams of calcium per day; babies don’t require as much, but fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds need significantly more. The many benefits of calcium include stabilising the bone structure, teeth, and cell membranes; ensuring nerve and muscle impulses are properly transmitted; and help prevent blood clots. Bones decalcify (osteoporosis) and fractures become more likely if a body is not getting enough calcium. Bottled water usually has less than 100 mg/l of calcium, but a few examples (such as Contrex and Sanfaustino) have about 500 mg/l.

POTASSIUM (K+)

Two to four grams are usually a sufficient day’s supply of potassium. Children and young people should pay particular attention to their intake, since potassium aids the growth of cells. The pressure of water between cells is regulated by potassium, which also makes sure each cell gets enough food. Potassium has special roles to play in muscle contraction and heartbeat. Potassium deficiency can weaken skeletal muscles and make smooth muscles tired. Typical potassium content in bottled water is less than 5 mg/l, but some (such as Ferrarelle and Malavella) can have as much as 50 mg/l.

SODIUM (Na+)

A person’s level of exertion largely determines his or her daily requirement of sodium. Normally about three grams are necessary, but severe physical stress can bring the requirement up to fifteen grams or more. The heart’s metabolism is affected by sodium, as is the regular contraction of the heart. Today, we rarely have to worry about sodium deficiency: Salt is an integral part of many foods, especially those that are highly processed. Sodium ranges from 10 mg/l in most bottled waters to 1,200 mg/l in a few, such as Vichy Catalan and Vichy Célestins. Less than 5 mg per RACC and per labeled serving (or, for meals and main dishes, less than 5 mg per labeled serving).

Sodium free definition: Less than 5 mg per labelled serving.

SULFATES (SO42-)

Sulfates are the salts of sulfur. They help the liver detoxify the body and aid digestion by stimulating the gallbladder. Sulfates in high doses act as a laxative. Fish, meat, and milk contain sulfates, which are an important component of protein. The human body absorbs only small amounts of sulfates, but these amounts are sufficient to stimulate peristalsis by binding magnesium and sodium to water in the intestine. This effect makes mineral waters rich in sulfates, which taste slightly bitter, suitable as “non-alcoholic bitters” after a meal. Most bottled waters have well below 100 mg/l of sulfates, but San Pellegrino and a few others can reach 500 mg/l.

BICARBONATE (HCO3-)

Present in all biological fluids, bicarbonate is essential for maintaining our bodies’ pH balance. The substance is also found in stomach secretions. Lactic acid generated by physical activity is neutralized by bicarbonate dissolved in water; a similar process raises the pH of some acidic foods. The typical range for bicarbonate in bottled water is 50 to 200 mg/l, but it can reach up to about 1,800 mg/l in waters such as Apollinaris, Gerolsteiner, and Borsec.

SILICA (SiO2)

Most adults need between twenty and thirty milligrams of silica daily. Silica reduces the risk of heart disease and may prevent osteoporosis; it also helps repair tissue by serving as an antioxidant. Hair and nails are strengthened by silica. If bottled waters contain any silica, it’s usually less than 20 mg/l; the higher levels in waters such as Fiji and Antipodes are well below 100 mg/l.

TRACE ELEMENTS

The human body needs iron, iodine, copper, fluoride, zinc, and other trace elements as well as minerals. The recommended daily intake is fractions of a milligram for some substances and a few milligrams for others.

Lakshitaa Khanna is India’s First Female Water Sommelier. The views expressed are the author’s own.