THERE'S A NEW FAD that seems to have originated on the West Coast but has taken hold in other ‘pockets’ around the country. Lindsey Bever authored a great piece for The Washington Post, “‘Raw Water’ is the latest health craze. Here’s why drinking it may be a bad idea” that doesn’t need much explanation, once you’ve read the title. But is definitely worth the read.
To avoid additives like fluoride and chlorine and contaminants like lead, and to gain natural minerals and beneficial probiotic bacteria, proponents are successfully selling some on the idea of drinking untreated water. And selling what’s referred to as “captured’ water at very high prices.
Scientists who are responsible for preventing the spread of waterborne infections through public systems applaud the concern that has arisen about water safety. However, the piece cautions that “by shunning recommended water safety practices, experts warn, raw water purveyors may also be selling things you don’t want to drink- dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites.” That’s right, parasites!
Yes, minerals might be eliminated through filtration methods, but these same minerals are also present in foods, and can be obtained by eating a healthy diet, experts referenced in Bever’s piece say. They feel the advertised benefits of raw water are not worth the risks. It is pointed out that, “lack of clean water kills hundreds of thousands of children each year” around the globe
Invisible dangers lurk in drinking water captured and bottled directly from a spring. It may appear to be clear and taste fresh, but not be clean. “The cleanliness of the water, they say depends on things you can’t see- whether herds of elk or moose or caribou have relieved themselves in a stream that you’re drinking from and left it full of parasites. Or whether there has been groundwater contamination from naturally occurring elements such as arsenic, radon, or uranium, or from pesticides and other chemicals”.
The experts should have had you at “parasites”. I lectured medical students at Michigan State University. One of the most unpopular topics in gastrointestinal pathology was parasitic infection. To students it seemed such a rare illness, and they weren’t eager to spend time learning the material. And parasites can burrow through tissues and migrate from the gut to the lung and liver and even the eyes. It was a disgusting topic.
Two of the GI diseases we talked about were giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis; both contracted by drinking untreated or incompletely treated water. If any former students are reading this I hope you remember how the diseases were differentiated by me and Dr. Mulks (hint: ‘Crypto’ in public systems v Giardia in streams, beaver ponds).
There’s always another side to such discussions, and an article in the New York Times provides more of the arguments put forth by proponents. Read before you buy this dangerous and expensive substance.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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