Dirty Secrets of the Bottled Water Industry

Drinking lots of water is supposed to be healthy right? Well based on the massive growth of the bottled water industry worldwide, it certainly seems so. Don’tt be fooled by those crystal clear streams and waterfalls on the label…













Drinking lots of water is supposed to be healthy right? Well based on the massive growth of the bottled water industry worldwide, it certainly seems so. And if you read much, the horror stories of what lurks in your tap water are enough to make anyone want to drink that seemingly pure water that comes in the plastic bottle.

But don’t be fooled by those crystal clear streams and waterfalls on the label. It may actually be worse than your tap water…

That bottled water that you just purchased may have been bottled straight from a tap, or could be from an untested, and contaminated ‘spring’ somewhere in an industrial complex’s property. Or even worse, according to some reports, taken from a community that depends on its clean water aquifer for survival.

We Americans spend over $11 BILLION dollars a year, on tap water, and worldwide that amount is estimated to be $100 billion by some accounts. While bottled water is a luxury to us, the United Nations estimates that if just 1/6th of that money spent annually on bottled water ($15 billion) were spent on clean water sources for some underdeveloped areas, they could cut in half the number of people who need access to clean water.

And since bottled water is 1900 to 2,000 times more expensive than tap water, you would have to assume that bottled water is not only more safe and pure, but that it must have to adhere to stricter purity standards. Not true.

Regular tap water in the US must adhere to very strict standards of purity, while bottled water does not.

In two tests—once conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and another by the Environmental Working Group found that over 22% of the bottled water brands tested contained arsenic, lead or other cancer causing organic compounds, 17% had higher than normal levels of bacteria, and 20% contained industrial chemicals.

In addition, the EWA found that 23% of bottled water brands contained no source information on either their labels or websites. The EWG concluded:

“Nearly a third of the bottled water labels we examined, including leading bottled water brands such as Dasani Purified Water, and Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, offered no information about their water’s source… Until recently… Aquafina also fell into this category…after extensive pressure from Corporate Accountability International and other consumer groups, Aquafina agreed to modify its labels to say that the water is sourced from unnamed public water supplies.

A third of the labels we inspected included partial or vague source locations, providing the consumer with little or no useful information. [Example] Aquamantra Natural Spring Water, as the name implies, sourced from a spring identified on the label as in zip code 92707, and Voss Artesian Water and Meijer Natural Spring Water identify their water sources as “Vatnestrom, Norway” and “deep within Michigan’s countryside,” respectively.

Did you realize that about half the bottled water you buy and drink is just tap water that hasn’t been any further purified?

Out of the ten brands of bottled water tested, an average of eight chemical contaminants were found, including: Disinfection byproducts (DBPs), Tylenol, nitrates, industrial chemicals, fluoride, arsenic, and bacteria.

If you freeze your water bottles or leave them in your hot car, dangerous chemicals leach out of the plastic into the water. The worst one is bisphenol A. BPA is a known xeno-estrogen (chemical that mimics estrogen) and endocrine disrupter. BPA is thought to be associated to obesity, some types of cancer, neurological issues, thyroid problems, male and female reproductive issues, diabetes, birth defects, and breast cancer.

Plastic bottles used for water are also responsible for massive worldwide environmental pollution as massive usage of natural resources such as water and petroleum.

According to the International Bottled Water Association and Beverage Marketing Corporation statistics, over 200 billion water bottles are discarded yearly, and only about 10-15% of those are recycled. That means over 80% end up in landfills or elsewhere, leaching toxins into the ground, the air, or our oceans. These water bottles and other discarded plastic have formed a huge trash island floating in the Pacific that is estimated at least twice the size of Texas, and by some reports as big as the continental United States.

All this disintegrating plastic has entered our food chain.

And sadly, it takes more than 5 liters of water to produce every liter of bottled water. Does that make any sense at all?  It also takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bottles needed to package the water.  That would fuel 100,000 cars for a year!

And manufacturing plastic water bottles also releases about 2.5 million tons of poisonous carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, then there is the extra fuel and air pollution it takes to transport all those water bottles around the world.

This has the makings of environmental catastrophe. For water? That’s crazy!

Consider seriously cutting back on the buying and consuming bottled water—unless absolutely necessary. Purchase an inexpensive charcoal filter water pitcher for use at home to filter your tap water (if you don’t have your own well) or attach a filter to your water faucet, although these do not filter out fluoride, they do filter out most other impurities.

I personally use the filter on my refrigerator water dispenser (but then you have to replace the filters), although I know it does not remove the fluoride from my water.  For drinking water, I get the large 5-gallon containers with reusable bottles from a nearby spring water facility.

Since the average American spends somewhere around $400 a year on bottled water, your best bet is to save your money and purchase a reverse osmosis (RO) water filter.  Contact a local plumbing supply company or check the hardware store.

Break the bottled water habit, save the environment, and conserve our natural resources. Carry your own (filtered) water in a reusable glass or metal container.

Lisa Margonelli, “Tapped Out”, New York Times, June 15, 2008

Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Is Bottled Water Really Pure?”, August 01 2009

Chris Baskind, “5 reasons to not drink bottled water”, Mother Nature Network, March 15, 2010.

Peter H. Gleick, “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water” 2010, Island Press.

Jospeh Mercola, “The 6 Worst Brands of Bottled Water You Can Buy” Jan 21, 2011

Environmental Working Group, “Tap water source disclosure: short, simple, informative”

Effective Strategies to Battle a Cold or the Flu

It’s cold and flu season once again. How are you doing this winter? Are you fighting off the ‘crud’? Don’t have time to be sick? I mean really who does?

Here are a few things I have found that help that you can do to help avoid colds and flu this winter.

Because colds are caused by a virus, generally you do not need to run to a doctor for medication when you come down with a cold—or even the flu. You are better off letting it run its course and taking good care of yourself so your body can fight it off with its own defenses. However there are a few things you can do to beef up your body’s defenses to help it fight better.

Most colds last about 8-10 days or so, but some may last even longer. The speed at which your body is able to fight off a cold has a lot to do with the state of your health and your immune system.

While many people turn to over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms, did you know that if you take aspirin or Tylenol, these medications actually suppress the body’s antibodies and so prolong the cold or flu? And Tylenol is in many OTC cold preparations. In addition, OTC medications can have a lot of other unpleasant and unhealthy side effects, so it’s best to avoid them if at all possible.  Even though they may ease the symptoms you may be stuck with the cold or flu even longer.

You should be able to easily fight off a cold or flu if your immune system is operating at its peak. In fact, just being around someone with a cold or flu does not mean you will come down with it yourself–as long as your immune system is functioning well. The following are a few suggestions to keep the immune system operating at its best. (And these suggestions work too, if you have already gotten sick, since they help you fight off the virus quicker.)

  • Be sure you are eating a healthy diet-Avoiding sugar and grains will help keep your immune system strong. And if you feel that you are coming down with something, stay away from all sugar and processed grains. We know that sugar and grain turn to glucose in the body. However, this increased level of sugar in the body actually weakens the immune system drastically. So to keep viruses away, avoid sugar and processed foods. 

  • Add in some extra vitamin C—Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and works well as an immune enhancer, and you can take up to several grams per hour. While that seems like a lot, vitamin C is water-soluble so any extra will wash out of the body. The only side effect to large doses of vitamin C is loose stools, so just beware. And, as an added note, vitamin C has been shown to be very helpful with depression, so if you are dealing with the winter ‘blahs’, vitamin C will help that too.
  • Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, including lots of raw fruits and vegetables, and high omega 3 foods like grass fed beef and wild caught salmon. Besides antioxidants, these foods are packed with vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals that are great for the immune system.
  • Be sure to get your vitamin D—Several research studies have shown that catching a cold or flu is actually a symptom of a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D make you much more susceptible to contracting colds, flu and other infections. If you can’t get outside in the sunshine (and that’s hard in the winter when we are all covered up), then go for a good supplement of vitamin D3, which is the must usable source of D.
  • Add lots of spices to your foods—many herbs or spices are extremely high in antioxidants and will help the immune system fight off invaders. The best ones are turmeric (the yellow spice in curry), oregano, cinnamon and cloves. Just add liberally to foods.
  • While it may be difficult to do, avoid stress—Many of us may be stuck in stressful life conditions, but if you cannot avoid stress, then find a way to deal with it. Get exercise, or follow a healthy outlet to relieve stress. Excessive stress will wear you down until your body cannot fight off any invaders.
  • Get enough sleep—Do your best to get a good 7-8 hours sleep if at all possible. If you are having trouble sleeping, be sure not to exercise too late in the evening, avoid caffeine after noon every day, and take a magnesium supplement and a melatonin supplement before bed. Both of the supplements will allow you to relax and enjoy a deeper sleep.
  • Get exercise—Exercise triggers a rise in immune natural killer cells that attack any potential invaders. Plus exercise reduces stress, which in turn is good for the immune system as well. But if you are already sick, exercise can help you fight off any virus, as long as you take it easy and try not to get in a super intense session when you are under the weather.

So what if you end up sick after all?

These are some of the things I have tried that seem to work to either help get rid of it or at least help the symptoms.

  • Green tea or other herb teas-Teas are warm and soothing and green tea is full of antioxidants and these help fight off the free radicals in the body. Other herb teas containing echinacea, goldenseal, ginger, elderflower, peppermint or ginger are also highly effective. Ginger is an immune stimulant, and I like to make my own tea from sliced fresh ginger, steeped in water that has been brought to a boil. Add in honey and a slice of fresh lemon if you desire. Enjoy its spicy kick.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide–This remedy may sound far fetched, but I have tried it and practically swear by it. It has actually stopped a cold in its tracks for me several times, but the key is to get it at the first sign of a cold or flu. While lying on one side or with the head on a table, add a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide to one ear. You will hear it bubbling around inside and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. After about 5-10 minutes, drain the ear onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear. You can repeat this procedure every 2-4 hours until the symptoms subside. You may be absolutely amazed!
  • Olive leaf extract--Ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.
  • Also make sure to drink plenty of fresh, pure water. Water is essential for the optimal function of every system in your body and will help loosen secretions. Drink enough water to turn your urine a light, pale yellow.
  • Honey makes a great gargle for sore throats and is antibacterial and antiviral as well.
  • A natural nasal saline irrigates your nose and helps clear thick mucus and relieve pressure from your sinuses. Just use a neti pot and a mixture of sea salt and luke warm water.
  • White and Cider Vinegar—I’m not sure of the science behind this, but wearing a pair of cotton socks soaked in white vinegar is an old, natural remedy that is still used today to reduce a fever—if nothing else, it won’t hurt, other than making your feet smell funny!
  • Don’t forget the chicken soup! Chicken noodle soup has been medically proven to help cure a cold or fever. It is most effective if the soup is made with actual chicken bones in the broth.
  • Garlic—One of my favorite solutions for a cold or flu is to chop up raw garlic and eat it, swallow it, or add it to some olive oil and top your salad with it. Raw garlic is a potent antiviral and is full of powerful antioxidants and other phytochemicals that help your immune system battle viruses. It really seems to work! Of course no one may want to get too close for a while, but you will feel better!

So take care of yourself, don’t overdo, avoid stress if you can or find effective ways to handle it, sleep well and most of all, eat a healthy diet. Hopefully you will escape the creeping ‘crud’ this year!