Welcome to episode 406 of The Whole View! This week Stacy and Sarah answer a listener question about all things water. How much should we drink? Should we actually track our water intake? How do we check our local water quality? All of this and more below!
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The Whole View, Episode 406: Got Water?
Welcome to the Whole View, episode 406. (0:27)
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The Weekly Serving Matrix is very helpful! I’ve been eating along these lines but this really helps me know where to focus vs. which foods serve a more secondary role. It’s super helpful and has taken a lot of worry out of my meal planning. Thanks!Jan
Stacy is so jazzed about this show.
Sarah and Stacy have been talking about it and preparing for it since this show was called the Whole View.
Stacy personally is jazz hands about educating a dear loved one on why filtering water is a good idea.
To kick things off, Stacy is going to share a little story from their trip last summer.
While on the road, Stacy saw what she thought was a fresh spring and encouraged the boys to fill their water bottles.
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Stacy basically gave her kids dysentery.
This is Stacy’s story about why water filtration is important.
Stacy ran a poll last week and only 21% were on team Stacy and thought it was a harmless stream.
What Stacy thinks is fascinating is that it is not just runoff water that is not good for you.
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I never realized how important nutrients are and how intricately the body works! I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your knowledge and insights.Cheryl
Oftentimes our municipal water is not meeting the standards.
It is important to understand that, and beyond that, it is important to know what you should be aware of when it comes to water.
Sarah has so much science.
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This Week’s Sponsor
But first, Stacy wants to take a moment to thank this week’s sponsor, AquaTru. (4:27)
Their reverse osmosis system has been sitting on Stacy’s counter for a month now, but there is one person in the house who is not convinced that it is a good idea.
Stacy first loved this system because of the information that Sarah shared, but second loved that it is endorsed by Erin Brockovich.
Sarah has had an AquaTru for over four years, and what she loves about them is how different their technology is.
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The depth of information, practical tips, and the accessible way Dr. Sarah shows me how to apply complex science to improve my health is truly remarkable.Wendy
It’s the only counter-top reverse osmosis system — in a category all its own.
It is not bottled water, not a fridge filter pitcher like Brita or Pur, and is not an under the counter or whole house system needing installation.
AquaTru is the only purifier to remove the ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFOAs and at the center of the movie Dark Waters.
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The Gut Health Cookbook is fantastic! Thank you for researching and creating The Gut Health Cookbook! Such wonderful recipes! I’m so excited to try them all!Sue
Most reverse osmosis (RO) systems waste four gallons of water for every one gallon they produce.
AquaTru uses a patented water conservation technology that is about 12x more efficient than professionally installed under-the-sink RO systems.
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I love Dr. Sarah’s passion for educating people and helping everyone on their journey to wellness!!Mindy
RO is the best way to filter water.
They are giving our podcast listeners $150 off their AquaTru purchase.
Jessica says, “new podcast name! Love it! (10:44)
Thanks for continuing to podcast.
Crazy times in the world and you and Sarah’s voice is so utterly comforting.
Anyway, podcast question! Water intake.
I don’t think you guys have done a, ‘how much water do we need’, podcast episode.
A deep dive into this would be really helpful.
The standard advice seems to be either one amount for men and one amount for women, or, half your body weight in oz.
Which is correct? Or is there another answer? What about just drinking when thirsty?
I also have wondered, how much water did our ancestors drink?
I assume the water was maybe harder to come by back then so maybe they were drinking less?
This is the assumption I’ve always made and has led to me drinking intuitively, which has more than likely led to me being chronically dehydrated 🙂
I feel like with all the conflicting info, it would be great to hear the science.
By the way Stacy, as a side note, after about a year I finished catching up on the podcast.
I know you are sorry, I am not ;).
When searching for a water-related episode, I and came upon an episode called Thirsty Brain.
I was like, for sure this has to be about how water intake affects our brain. Nope. Lol.
But that was a great episode about Matt’s podcast, called Thirsty Brain 🙂 love you guys.
Thanks again for all you do!”
Let’s start with how much water. (14:15)
This has been a debated topic within the medical and scientific community.
The classic 8, 8 oz. glasses a day is actually not enough.
However, this original recommendation was based on how much water we lose over the course of a day and was not based on how much we actually need.
The question now is, how much water makes us healthy?
The latest research suggests that men should consume about 13 cups (104 ounces, or 3 liters) of fluid per day, and women should consume about 9 cups (74 ounces, or 2.2 liters).
The reason it is different between men and women is basically a reflection of body size and BMR.
This amount is not pure water intake.
It includes the water that we get from all sources, factoring in all beverages, and the water we get from food.
From there, our needs would shift up if we are highly active, if it is hot out, certain dietary needs, etc.
Sarah thought the hunter-gather aspect of Jessica’s question was very interesting.
So she spent some time trying to track that information down.
However, she couldn’t find a good estimate.
That being said, Sarah did find a really interesting paper looking at human evolution.
We only find remains of early humans near water sources, and so we know that early humans tended to congregate near water.
Communities were and still are centered around ways of getting water.
There has been some anthropological research showing that this might have been very important in human evolution.
Our brains use a lot of energy, which creates a lot of metabolic byproducts, which have to be filtered by the liver and kidneys, which increases our need for water to make urine to effectively detoxify.
So our ability to grow these awesome brains would have relied on proper hydration, in addition to high-quality food.
We can’t say how many ounces of water hunter-gathers consumed on average, but we can say that it was very likely that they drank a lot of water and likely drank intuitively.
Studies looking at hydration have been really interesting. (19:56)
Overall they show that humans in general as a species are pretty good at drinking intuitively.
Studies have come at this from a bunch of different ways, where they have looked at what happens when you have given people free access to water and you measure how much water they drink?
In general, people are really good at staying hydrated, provided water is around.
On average people will drink about two liters of water per day, just driven by thirst.
Which is probably the right amount of water, considering other beverages and water from food sources.
There have been studies showing that this is true in different populations.
Athletes’ performance is best when they just follow their thirst for drinking.
‘Follow your thirst’ does seem to work best for performance.
However, there are a variety of things that have been shown to reduce our thirst relative to our water needs.
Which basically means you are not thirsty enough for how much water you need.
These people need to focus more on hydration and drink with intention, versus just following thirst.
There are a bunch of drugs that are used for cardiovascular disease that impact thirst.
Elderly people also tend to end up dehydrated and are do not have strong enough thirst signals for their water needs.
Menopause causes this is women and high estrogen in general.
Swimming can actually reduce our thirst.
Exercising in the heat can also impact our thirst awareness.
When Sarah looks at this list this means that there are so many exceptions that overall it is a pretty good idea to at least be mindful of hydration.
There are bad things that happen when we don’t drink enough water on a regular basis.
Stacy shared her experience with her lack of thirst and dehydration.
What Happens if you Don’t Drink Enough?
What is interesting is that acute dehydration will make you feel extremely ill, but chronic-mild dehydration kind of creeps up on you in terms of the symptoms. (27:03)
Like so many chronic things, the human body is remarkable in terms of how it adapts to not feeling good.
You can end up not noticing for a while.
There has been a huge variety of studies showing that even mild dehydration puts a strain on the kidneys, which can cause high blood pressure, reduced energy, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and more.
What is interesting to Sarah is the number of cognitive issues associated with mild dehydration.
It can cause frequent headaches, impair mood, increase anxiety, reduce concentration, impair memory, reduce cognitive performance and it also has a pretty measurable impact on exercise performance.
The thing that nerds Sarah out is that our microbiome is sensitive to our hydration status.
This is because we have this whole collection of bacterial species that actually live in or attached to the mucus barrier.
Sarah explained the mucus layer in greater detail.
This is why inadequate hydration can cause constipation.
What happens when we are not drinking enough, that the mucus layer gets harder and less viscus.
This makes it a less hospitable environment for really important probiotic bacteria.
It also makes it a more hospitable environment for pathogens.
This has been confirmed in some really interesting animal studies.
Acute hydration would include feeling dizzy, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, extreme fatigue and sleepiness, confusion, and irritability and it can cause things like fainting.
You would see severe dehydration in having UTIs, kidney infections, and kidney stones.
Sarah feels that alkaline water is one of the biggest scams in the health community. (34:48)
Alkaline water has an alkaline pH.
Commercial alkaline water typically has a pH of 8.8 or higher with high dissolved mineral content, typically calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Alkaline water is known to neutralize stomach acid, which on the surface may sound like an awesome thing for anyone who suffers from acid reflux.
However, because the acidity of chyme is a key signal to the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes and to the gallbladder to secrete bile, neutralizing stomach acid can hinder digestion in a big way!
So anything that neutralizes stomach acid actually hinders digestion, which can cause a whole pile of problems.
The other thing is the impact on the gut microbiome.
If you are neutralizing those acidic molecules with alkaline water, you are actually suppressing the growth of really key probiotic species and increasing the growth of potential pathogens.
Studies confirm that drinking alkaline water causes an undesirable shift in gut microbiome composition.
One study in mice showed that drinking alkaline water for 4 weeks caused a huge decrease in probiotic Clostridium species with smaller decreases in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and a rise in Prevotella.
A randomized, controlled cross-over intervention in adult men compared the impact on the gut microbiome of consuming 2 liters per day of alkaline water (pH 9) compared to neutral water (pH 7) for two weeks.
While the alkaline water had no effect on overall species diversity or richness, the men benefited from higher hydration levels from neutral pH water, which significantly increased richness by 15% when comparing pre- and post-intervention samples.
The benefits of alkaline water that have been measured are probably completed attributed to the fact that many of us are not getting enough calcium or potassium.
So we can benefit from getting these in their elemental form dissolved into water.
Spring/mineral waters can be slightly acidic. (38:50)
Most natural sources of mineral water in the world are acidic, not alkaline.
Acidic water, because our gut bacteria love living in an acidic environment, has been shown to improve the gut microbiome to reduce a diabetes-associated microbiome.
It also improves the growth of probiotic species, at least in animal studies.
So it is much more important to look for mineral water or to add mineral drops to your water.
Sarah adds mineral drops to her water before she drinks it.
There is definitely benefit to mineral content, but that alkaline water is not doing your gut any favors.
Stacy has experienced this with the digestive piece before.
The water that comes out of our taps originates from lakes, rivers, and or groundwater. (41:37)
Then it goes under extensive filtration and then disinfection.
Disinfection uses one of two chemicals – chlorine or chloramine.
It is important for safety to go through this disinfection process.
When you think about the community of microbes that live in our gut and think about a disinfectant being added to our water, you think about the impact this has on your gut bacteria.
Studies have shown that they absolutely do.
The chlorine/chloramine that is added to drinking water not only decreases the growth of really important probiotic species, but it actually allows the growth of multi-resistant pathogens.
There have been a variety of studies showing that feeding animals chlorinated tap water actually increases the number of bacteria that are growing in their digestive tract.
These bacteria strains are associated with hospital inquired infections.
Studies have shown that there is a potential link between chlorinated drinking water and the incidence of colorectal cancer.
To understand whether this effect is mediated via the microbiome, a study compared the effect of drinking chlorinated water versus tap water in transgenic mice susceptible to colon cancer.
Chlorinated water causes a substantial increase in tumor development in the colon, associated with reduced levels of Clostridium perfringens, a species believed to have anti-tumor effects.
Interestingly, mice drinking tap water tended instead to develop tumors in the small intestine.
Removing the chlorine/chloramine after the water comes out of our tap before we drink it, is a really good idea for our gut microbiome.
More on Fluoride
There are also a lot of municipalities in North America that add fluoride to tap water, with the rationale of reducing tooth decay.
In episode 34 Stacy and Sarah discussed fluoride, and the science has not changed.
The science showing that fluoride is beneficial for dental health when it makes prolonged contact with tooth surfaces is really strong.
However, the science showing any benefit to oral health from drinking fluoridated water is basically nonexistent.
There have been some really large studies showing that fluoridation does not increase the risk of anything of the things that have been rumored to be true.
However, there have been a few studies showing a correlation between fluoride levels and lower IQ in children.
This has opened up the question if fluoride can open up the blood-brain barrier, and potentially negatively impact early brain development.
But this is still a big open question where more science is needed.
We do know that fluoride seems to accumulate in the pineal gland as we age.
The pineal gland is located in our brain and secretes melatonin to help us sleep.
We don’t know if this is what is behind sleep disturbances, but its something to point to that shows how fluoride crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Overall, more research is needed to clarify if there are actual risks with fluoridation.
We do know that the benefits are not measurable.
In a study of broiler chickens, high levels of dietary fluorine resulted in lower microbial diversity, significantly lower levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
The study also showed significantly higher levels of Escherichia coli and Enterococcus compared to the control group.
In a mouse study, 12 weeks of exposure to fluoride altered the oral microbial community by selectively depleting probiotic Parabacteroides distasonis, Bacteroides uniformis, and an unclassified Bacteroides species.
However, if we are using fluoridated toothpaste, drinking non-fluoridated water appears to pose no risk to oral health.
There is a strong case for filtering water for removing chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride.
Stacy isn’t yet adding minerals to her water but is going to give it a try and is excited.
You can get those minerals on the AquaTru.
Pesticide Residues in Tap Water
While an inexpensive activated carbon (charcoal) water filter can remove chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride from tap water.
Unfortunately, these common water filtration systems can’t remove pesticide residues.
Heavy metals are a well-known problem. (53:57)
If you have lead in your tap water there is so much information out there that you would understand the importance of not showering in this level of contaminated water.
We talked about how glyphosate impacts the gut microbiome in last week’s episode (405).
Glyphosate exposure increases the ratio of pathogenic bacteria to probiotic microbes, reducing Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, and Enterococcus while increasing Salmonella and Clostridium.
There is no dose-response.
Any glyphosate exposure is problematic.
In the US, glyphosate has been used for over 40 years and is used mostly to kill weeds that interfere with agricultural crops (typically corn, soy, and canola).
We know that runoff from industrial agriculture is a major source of contaminants in streams, rivers, and lakes, which is where we get our tap water from.
Third-party testing was done on 85 tap water samples by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse.
The results showed that 35 of the samples had glyphosate levels up to 0.3 ppb.
On average, 87% of Americans have measurable glyphosate residues inside their bodies.
For more on how glyphosate impacts our health, see this study.
We know we are getting exposed to glyphosate and it looks as though tap water may be a key root of exposure.
This is the most compelling reason for filtering water using reverse osmosis.
Sarah is so grateful for AquaTru for giving our listeners such a steep discount on their filtration systems.
Last week we talked about foundational principles, and Sarah considers filtering water as a foundational principle.
Reverse osmosis is the next level thing.
However, depending on where you live, if you live in an area where your water is likely to be contaminated, that shifts that priority.
Stacy and Sarah are on a mission to educate, they never want to make listeners feel burdened with one more thing to worry about.
Instead, you make informed decisions from education and we are here to educate you.
Stacy doesn’t want someone to spend a lot of money on a water filtration system without looking fully into the research and which system to buy.
It is fascinating to Stacy that this is beyond heavy metal contamination, it is beyond glyphosate, that three out of four homes have contaminants beyond the prescribed measures in America.
This was a fact that once she heard it, Stacy couldn’t un-hear it.
Is this a burden that you should be stressed out about – absolutely not.
This is to educate you so that you can plan for if you want to make changes.
A great place to start is to look at what is in your water.
Use this site as a reference point.
For you to be aware and to start looking at that is all that we are trying to provide.
If you are concerned about your water quality and do feel like a good water filtration system is a good investment to make, AquaTru has given our listeners $150 off.
Simple visit this site to get that discount.
Sarah wanted to thank AquaTru again for sponsoring this week’s episode and for being such a good sponsor to provide listeners with such an amazing discount.
Thank you listeners for being a part of the show.
We love hearing from you and your feedback.
Jessica, thank you for your nice complement.
If you have questions that you want us to follow up on or different topics that you want to hear about, we welcome you to email us using the contact forms on our blogs.
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Thank you so much, listeners!
We will be back next week. (1:05:22)