Rethink Health - March 2011

News through the GoodHealthKeeping lens

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Good Water

One of you recently drew my attention to a 2004 draft WHO report on the dangers of distilled and reverse osmosis (RO) water. As one who has drunk only reverse osmosis water for about 20 years, I was interested to read it.

Fresh water originates as rain, and has very little dissolved in it. Water that runs off directly into streams contains only what it has picked up on the surface - nowadays, mainly pollutants. Water that percolates underground may collect from limestone a considerable quantity of chalk. Much of this chalk is then deposited again under pressure and at a cool temperature, in caverns underground. It may be many years before that relatively pure water escapes to springs. It would reach a modern bore-hole much more quickly, still very chalky.

The WHO authors maintain that calcium and magnesium in water make an important contribution to human health, particularly if soil minerals are deficient. 

That's over-simplified. Experience in France, noted by water engineer Louis-Claude Vincent during the 1930s, was that people reliant on hard water became stiff and calcified themselves, relatively young. Consumers of pure water (in granite regions) remained supple into old age. At the time of writing Pamela and I, in our late 60s and after 20 years of reverse osmosis, remain thankfully disease-free and supple.

The true position is that you need your minerals from food. Only they are adequately absorbed and distributed around your body to the cells that need them. They linger only briefly in the blood (which has misled WHO) but are retained in tissues for many months. Calcium from food does not therefore calcify arteries or sinews.

If your food is short of tissue-based magnesium, magnesium in your water may just save your heart from fibrillating. This occurs if you have enough calcium to enable the heart to contract, but insufficient magnesium to let it relax with equal ease. 

If, however, you replace the magnesium legitimately in your food, the magnesium in water doesn't just cease to be relevant - it becomes a positive disadvantage. Water calcium is always a hazard, whatever your food contains. 

I agree with WHO that distilled water is too sour for health. RO is preferable because it only removes about 90-95% of the dissolved material. Their concerns about pipe corrosion and disinfectant, are irrelevant to domestic ROs. In fact, I wish the water companies would fit RO units at all domestic drinking water points and relax the quality of water they distribute in the mains. This would be achievable, ecological and economical. Truly potable mains water is not is none of these.

My advice remains that RO-purified water is preferable to anything else, and much cheaper than bottled water from granite areas or the Scottish Highlands. I have never recommended distillation for drinking water.

You need the best diet you can get, which is probably about 30% deficient in minerals for reasons beyond your control. We designed Replete (2 tablets daily, Cytoplan list 5591), a bio-food supplement, to redress this dietary shortfall, but it cannot replenish established deficiency. You may need a hair mineral analysis to discover deficiency, and specific food-state or bio-food supplements to redress it, before relying on Replete to keep your dietary minerals balanced thereafter.

Vine fruits, top fruit and nuts are relatively good sources of minerals because they are less affected by crop protection chemicals. But I personally can't keep up with zinc and magnesium without taking bio-food supplements, despite an organic diet.

Eureaucracy and Natural Remedies

Which leads me to the other topic raised by a reader last month - the relentless attacks from Brussels on natural remedies and food supplements. They are being medicalised step by step, with all this implies in relation to safety testing, licensing and the like.

This is a major stress for small independent wholefood traders who rely on  purified nutritional products, or whose range of remedies make medical claims. These products are directly in line for trouble, since they are being  classified with pharmaceuticals. 

Herbs, foods and food-based supplements can successfully head this off by going down the food route, which is regulated differently. Nature's Own/Cytoplan has managed this, and others with their philosophy should be equally successful. I do not expect any impediment in the supply of the products I recommend, any time soon.

It does mean that information about natural remedies will not in future be available officially from manufacturers or stockists, though many are by their training and experience equipped to give independent advice about them. Some refer to therapists and nutritional advisers, and some of these are available sessionally in shops. If users of natural remedies find themselves more often in need of professional guidance in the choice of the most appropriate course of action, that is probably on balance not a bad thing.

Food In the News

Keep your red meat under two ounces daily: but broccoli al dente several times weekly offsets most of the bowel cancer hazard. Eggs have less cholesterol than they did - but your blood cholesterol comes from sugar, not eggs. A new claim of cancer protection from milk is suspect, I think. And all these findings will change again next month, in any case!