EAT TASTE HEAL: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living
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Why Buy Organic?
ayurveda 101
what's my dosha?
the six tastes
ayurveda detox
ayurvedic resources
why buy organic?
why buy organic?
genetic modification
food additives
refined foods
microwaved foods
water quality
cow's milk
healthy food resources

Water Quality
Water is the universal elixir of life. It makes up more than 70 percent of our total body mass and covers the same proportion of the Earth’s surface. We can live without food for a month or more; but we will perish in a matter of days without water. It’s widely known that drinking enough water each day is an essential key to health. The quality of the water we drink, however, often gets overlooked.

Today, we are blessed with remarkable convenience in obtaining the water we drink.
While some people still hike for miles to find fresh water, we simply turn on a faucet or run to the nearest store. Such convenience, however, also breeds less care regarding the quality of water we drink.

Basic chemistry tells us that water is composed of two hydrogen atoms and a single oxygen atom. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that all water is created equally.

Most of the global water supply is no longer the pure substance that cultures have cherished for millennia. Water is now widely tainted with harmful chemicals and inorganic materials. Pollutants from farming, industrial dumping, and decaying pipes are among the biggest threats. These include mercury, iron, lead, copper, arsenic, various fertilizers and pesticides, asbestos, cyanide, radium, and other industrial chemicals. Despite extensive water treatment methods, trace amounts of these substances often remain in drinking water. Repeated exposure to these toxins has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and a wide range of other illnesses.

water quality
The chemicals added to sanitize water have also raised concerns in recent years. These include chlorine, phosphate, lime, soda ash, and aluminum phosphate. Chlorine, in particular, has attracted considerable attention. Studies have shown that chlorine forms carcinogenic chemicals when interacting with organic matter commonly found in water. Ingesting small amounts of chlorine over time has also been shown to drop vitamin E levels in the body and destroy beneficial intestinal flora.

In the U.S. and Europe, the fluoridation of water has been another controversial topic. Fluoride is added to water as a type of medicine for the masses, with the stated objective of creating stronger teeth and bones. Opponents of fluoridation, however, make the following distinction: Chemically derived sodium fluoride, a by-product of the aluminum industry, is added to drinking water, not the naturally occurring calcium fluoride. Studies have shown that small amounts of calcium fluoride strengthen teeth and bones. No study has ever proven the same for sodium fluoride. Certain illnesses, on the other hand, have been linked to this substance, including, ironically, tooth decay as well as skeletal fluorosis, a bone and joint condition. Yet, today, more than half the cities in the United States fluoridate their water supplies.

So what is pure water and how can you get it? Water should be clear and have a refreshing taste and aftertaste. If you turn on your tap and find cloudy, discolored, or sediment-laden water, it’s a sign to take caution. Similarly, if the water tastes metallic or otherwise “off” in any way, it’s probably impure. If you’d like to test your water for harmful substances, a number of private labs now offer this service. See the Resource section (page 00) for more information. Your local water company should also provide free information on chlorine, fluoride, and mineral levels.

Water filtration is one of the safest and most affordable options for purifying water today. There are three primary types of filtration: activated carbon, reverse-osmosis, and steam distillation. Carbon filters are highly effective, moderately priced, and available in a variety of styles, from pitchers to whole-house units. Just note that filters require frequent changing. Reverse-osmosis technology is also highly effective. Such countertop units get rid of more contaminants than carbon filters, although they also cost more and waste large quantities of water. Steam distillers are the most thorough purifiers, but they’re expensive, difficult to maintain, and strip water of all essential minerals, thus creating lifeless water.

This raises an important consideration regarding the mineral content of our drinking water today. Truly vitalized water spends time deep within the earth or mountains, collecting minerals and other nutrients. It then naturally filters through rocks and other sediments, which aerate, purify, and mineralize the water. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, such minerals relate to the greater Earth element at our core.

Most of our drinking water today derives from surface sources devoid of this natural process. Filtering water through any of the methods above will further remove important minerals. If you suspect you have mineral-depleted water, we recommend adding trace minerals to your water. These derive from natural sources, such as saltwater lakes, and are available at most health food stores. Ayurveda also recommends placing water in a natural, unglazed clay pot overnight to help add back minerals. For this to be effective, it’s important that both sides of the pot are unglazed.

As awareness of water quality has increased in recent years, bottled water sales have boomed. Relying solely on bottled water, however, is more costly and less environmentally friendly than investing in a quality filtration system. Chemicals from plastic bottles can also leach into the water, particularly if bottles become hot. When you do buy bottled water, always check the source listed on the bottle. If no source is listed, the water can legally be tap water. “Natural Spring Water” and “Artesian Water” are healthy choices, since they derive from underground sources and flow naturally to the Earth’s surface.

According to Ayurveda, drinking pure water nourishes the Water element at our core. Modern nutritional theory recommends drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. While this quantity is in line with Ayurveda’s general recommendation, other factors must also be taken into account. These include an individual’s doshic make-up, age, and activity level. Seasonal and geographic factors should also be considered. For example, an active Pitta type living in a hot climate will require more water during the summer months. A busy Vata individual living in a dry climate will require more water during the fall. An inactive Kapha type living in a wet climate will require less water during spring. Since the body naturally becomes drier with age, all doshic types benefit from greater hydration during these years.

© 2014 Five Elements Press Eat • Taste • Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living email: eattasteheal05@yahoo.comm