Where once you could gaze around and see hands holding various bottles of soda or cups of coffee, in today's health-conscious world bottled water is the most common sight. It is the second most popular beverage purchased in the United States, and consumers drink over two billion gallons of bottled water annually.
With the different varieties available on store shelves, confusion as to which type is best is completely understandable. Should you grab sparkling, mineral, enhanced vitamin, artisan, purified, or spring? Usually, it comes down to personal preference.
According to the FDA, the average consumer will drink around 26 gallons of various bottled water types annually. The safety of bottled water regulations comes under the authority of the FDA, but is it healthier than tap water? Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of clean drinking water that tastes good, and this has led to an increase in filtration system installation in many homes and offices over the last two decades.
One reason for the extreme popularity of bottled water is the convenience. Since it is so easy to carry, bottled water has simplified access to thirst-quenching goodness anytime, anywhere. This convenience offers the ability for people to drink more water than they would normally, increasing daily consumption—and this is a great thing from a health standpoint!
What Is Spring Water?
Spring water, also referred to as well water or ground water, comes from an underground source. A spring can form where there are any rock formations, although the most common in the U.S. are limestone formations.
They form when the underground aquifer fills to levels too high to contain the liquid, forcing it to move toward the surface. The clearness of spring water is a result of the filtration process, although the mineral composition of the surrounding soil will often affect the overall color.
The EPA defines spring water as water that has passed through an aquifer while it travels from underground to the surface where it is collected, and the water retrieved may or may not be treated.
Many people prefer the taste of spring water, believing that the natural filtration process it undergoes enhances the taste. All spring water undergoes filtering for sediment residue and testing before being bottling to meet the safe drinking water standards set by the EPA.
Health Benefits of Spring Water
The largest benefit of spring water is that it is virtually free from the contaminants found in regular water, such as pharmaceuticals, herbicides, and pesticides. It is rich in a variety of minerals essential to our health, like calcium, sodium, bicarbonate, and magnesium.
Due to the slightly alkaline nature of spring water from the high mineral content, it assists in neutralizing acidity, critical to keeping teeth and bones dense, healthy and strong. Reducing acidity in the body also lessens the damage from free radicals.
What Is Purified Water?
Purified water must meet the EPA requirements for purity, meaning the impurity level needs to be reduced to having no more than ten parts per million. These standards are much higher than those for regular drinking water.
Once purified water has been cleaned, there is a secondary purification process to further increase the purity of the water. Depending on the manufacturer, they may use deionization, distillation, or reverse osmosis. Combining several additional purification methods results in an even higher level of purity.
Purified water does not have the mineral content of spring water, as minerals are removed during most purification processes.
Since the filtration and purification standards are so high, the source of the water makes no difference. It can come directly from the tap, from a ground water or surface collection point, or a spring. Common contaminants removed during the process include giardia and E. coli.
Health Benefits of Purified Water
Purified water has a refreshing taste that encourages increased water consumption due to the lack of impurities and contaminants. It helps with the process of detoxification in the body, naturally causing the elimination of toxins and waste. Purified water also keeps the skin hydrated, increasing moisture and circulation.
The purity level of purified water works to reduce the buildup of minerals currently in the body, allowing the kidneys to rest and recover from damage. It also decreases the chances of gallstones forming while building up joints and cells.
Products with added nutrients are marketed to the health-conscious consumer. Especially for athletes, added electrolytes like sodium and potassium are huge selling points, and perceptive marketers have taken advantage, labeling them as sports drinks.
When you sweat, your body loses electrolytes that need replacing for internal systems to function properly. After long bouts of exercise or strenuous workouts, these added electrolytes can be beneficial to a quicker recovery.
Along with being beneficial for health reasons, water is a resource needed to sustain life. Most of our body is comprised of water, and every organ, tissue, and muscle, including the brain, needs it to live. The human body cannot go longer than three days without water.
Whether your water is coming from a tap or a bottle, the most important factor is that it is clean and safe to drink. Contamination can occur in anything—even bottled water. The CDC reports that bottled water contaminants can cause neurological disorders, infections, reproductive problems, and digestive tract illnesses if ingested.
Price and taste are the determining factors for most consumers when deciding between purified water and spring water. You are the one drinking it, so the final choice is yours.