The idea of unhealthy vs. healthy water may be a new one to you because it’s rarely a topic of nutrition and diet books and can be really confusing. Should the water be from the tap or bottled, hard or soft, spring, distilled, mineral or sparkling? The evidence points to bottled hard water, which is bottled water rich in mineral ions, as being of great value in promoting overall health.

Bottled water is important because it doesn’t have a number of harmful chemicals in it that tap water has. These chemicals are a result of runoff from farms and gardens and because they are deliberately treated with chlorine and fluorides. Bottled water is filtered so it does not have the chemicals from runoff from farms and gardens. Tap water is treated with chlorine to kill microorganisms, yet one study of tap water from Europe, USA and Canada calculated that 423,000 cases of disease outbreaks were caused from contaminated tap water from 1985-1997 and no cases from mineral water. (Böhmer H, Resch KL. [Mineral water or tap water? A systematic analysis of the literature concerning the question of microbial safety] 2000 Feb;7(1):5-11).

Adding fluoride to tap water should also be reevaluated because it actually offers little protection against tooth decay and fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor that contributes to bone loss, bone deformities, cancer and a host of other illnesses (Fluoride, the Aging Factor. Yiamouyiannis, J., 1998)

Water filters to filter tap water are very controversial and until there is actual evidence, the healthiest choice is bottled water.

Now that you understand why bottled water is of upmost importance, why is hard water, the healthiest? First, here is a list of different types of bottled water.

Purified Water: According to the FDA, water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of Purified Water, may be labeled as purified bottled water. Other suitable product names for bottled water may include "distilled water" if it is produced by distillation.

Distilled water:Distilled water is purified water that has gone through a distillation process.

Mineral water:According to the FDA, bottled water containing not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids (TDS) may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of bottled water by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No product can have minerals added and still be labeled as a mineral water; the minerals must be naturally occurring in the product.

Drinking water: Drinking water is water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other processes as allowed by the FDA and is sealed in containers with no added ingredients except that it may contain safe and suitable antimicrobial agents.

Sparkling water:Sparkling waters all begin with water and are then carbonated with CO2 for a refreshing effervescence.

Artesian water:According to the FDA, artesian water is mineral water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.

Spring water: The FDA mandates that only natural spring water from a spring source meeting specific criteria can be labeled as spring water.

The difference between hard and soft water is that hard water contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates and sulfates and soft water does not. Calcium usually enters hard water as either calcium carbonate (CaCO3), in the form of limestone and chalk, or calcium sulfate (CaSO4), in the form of other mineral deposits. The predominant source of magnesium is dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2).
Soft water usually comes from peat or igneous rock sources, such as granite but may also derive from sandstone sources, since such sedimentary rocks are usually low in calcium and magnesium. Very soft water can corrode the metal pipes in which it is carried and as a result the water may contain elevated levels of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc.

Mineral content is so important because when we drink soft water with few electrolytes the body does not use it to hydrate the body but instead tries to excrete it as quickly as possible in order to maintain homeostasis in the blood.
Artesian water tends to have mineral content whereas spring water does not. If the mineral content is high enough the water will be labeled as mineral water no mater the source.

The type of mineral content also matters. Mineral water with calcium carbonate has the health effect of increasing bone density whereas mineral water with calcium sulfate does not. (Wynn, E., Krieg, MA, et. al. “Alkaline mineral water lowers bone resportion even in calcium sufficiency: alkaline mineral water and bone metabolism.” Bone. January 2009. 44 (1): 120-4.) The ideal water should also be low in sodium content (Garzon, P., Eisenberg MJ. “Variation in the mineral content of commercially available bottled waters: implications of health and disease” Am J Med. 1998 Aug;105(2):125-30). Carbonated water claims health benefits but has higher levels of sodium than noncarbonated water so it is actually not a healthy choice.

Water labels do not have water contents listed on them but water company websites do tend to have a list. When looking at a list of water contents one should be looking for calcium carbonate, magnesium and as little sodium and fluoride as possible. Other forms of calcium will not be easily absorbable by the body.
Bottled water should be stored in a cool (i.e. room temperature), dry environment away from chemicals such as household cleaning products, solvents such as gasoline, paint thinners and other toxic or odorous materials, and away from direct sunlight. Sunlight exposure to bottled water has to do with contaminating the water with plastic residues. So when buying water notice where it is located in the store. It is very common for stores to have cases of water next to windows. Also, do not reuse the plastic bottle for they are not made from durable plastic to be used over again.

When drinking water or any other liquids do not drink a lot while eating. Excessive liquids taken during meals dilute stomach acid and put undue strain on the digestive process. Good rule is to avoid drinking too much water ½ hour before a meal or two hours after and to sip beverages slowly throughout meal. Ice water makes a meal hard to digest. Water with fresh lemon or lime juice will aid digestion better than plain water.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Alicia Armitstead is a licensed chiropractor in New York City. In her clinic, Healing Arts Chiropractor, she is dedicated to designing personal health improvement programs. Dr. Armitstead holds degrees from University of Bridgeport and the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in Connecticut. She is certified in Advanced Clinical Training of Nutrition Response TestingSM. Dr. Armitstead is continuing her education by working on her Masters in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.