Monday, January 20, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #3 filtered water


Fourteen years ago when I was starting out as a food writer I met with the owner of an organic foodstore in Melbourne, she talked me through the housemade soups and take home dinners prepared in their store, "We had a water filter installed into the plumbing" she explained, "there's no point cooking with organic ingredients if you're not going to use filtered water when making soup and stock and so on." I have to admit, until that moment I hadn't given the composition of tap water too much thought.

Fast forward to my tiny kitchen today and our Nikken pi mag water filter takes pride of place on our limited bench space (my tiny kitchen tour coming soon). Before we made the $400+ investment in this filter system we used to have a Brita jug with a replaceable carbon filter which worked well and is certainly a cheaper option. We decided to upgrade after a trip staying with our friend in Byron Bay who has a Nikken and we loved the clean taste of the water so much.

After almost a decade of drinking filtered water at home I have become very sensitive to the taste and smell of chlorine in non-filtered water. When I go out I miss my water filter! You can see in the photograph at the very top there is a coppery brown colour on the filter. That filter starts out as white and over about a 3-4 weeks it gets browner until the water is filtering through so slowly I wipe the filter clean with a cloth. I think part of the reason for this is that we live in an old house with the original plumbing, filtering the water gives me piece of mind that the water is as clean as possible, plus it filters out the smell and taste of chlorine.

Why drink filtered water?

Given that just about every single process that happens in our body takes place in water it makes sense to ensure that the water we drink is as pure and free from chemical contaminants as possible.

Flouride and chlorine are added to our water supply here in Australia. The chlorine is added to ensure that bugs do not survive in the water - this is a good thing! - but how much chlorine is safe and the long term effects are up for debate. Flouride has been added to the water since the 1960's originally to minimise tooth decay, today most toothpaste contains flouride so there is some belief that we may now be getting too much flouride.

This detailed report on water filters and contaminants by Choice magazine provides a good explanation of reasons to get a water filter and the different kinds of filters available.

If you have your own water supply such as tank or bore water it is imperative to have your supply regularly checked for contaminants, you probably already knew that though right! I made myself nicely sick drinking contaminated tank water when I was pregnant with River, frightening and not fun at all.

What about bottled water?

The main reason to steer clear of water sold in plastic bottles is the environmental problems associated with producing and transporting bottled water as well as disposing of the plastic bottles. You can read a list of convincing reasons not to buy bottled water here.

And then there is the issue of plastic leaching into the water. There are various types of plastic used to make single use and reusable drinking bottles. Unless it is a matter of dehydration I'd say steer clear of single use bottles and instead buy a reusable stainless steel, glass or BPA free bottle and don't leave home without it.

My main reason for writing about water today is to reinforce the importance of drinking the stuff! Filtered is definitely my preference but even if you decide buying a water filter has to wait a while on the priority list, if you do one thing for yourself and your family this year it would be to quit soft drink, prepackaged juices, flavoured milks and switch to drinking a good amount of water each day. The amount will vary depending on age, activity level and climate you are in but the general guide is 2 litres per day for adults and for children aged 5-8 1 litre, aged 9-12 1.5 litres and aged 13+ 2 litres.

Squeezing a splash of fresh lemon or orange juice can make the water more appealing if you are not used to drinking much and the citrus also aids absorption. One of the best ways to ways to kickstart your daily water intake is with a glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning before breakfast or tea or coffee, the lemon water is cleansing for your liver and means you start the day hydrated. Another easy step!

Do you have a water filter to recommend? Or a favorite reusable water bottle? Tell us in the comments.




8 comments:

  1. This is a great post Nikki. We have a water tank here which we bought for gardening but we now use it for drinking water, rinsing food and for cooking, as the fluoride and chlorine concerns me a lot. Just last year we invested in a Southern Cross on the bench pottery filter and more recently and Eco bud water jug filter which is also supposed to filter fluoride and chlorine (which I haven't tested). I feel much better for knowing that my water is clean to drink without all the chemicals. x

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    1. Thanks Catherine. Lovely to see you here! Happy New Year. Wow your water sounds super filtered, to be drinking rain water from your own tank is a wonderful thing. Thanks for stopping by x

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  2. We're on tank water here and I assume my husband has looked after the contamination check... I should really ask him though!

    One of my friends (also on tank water) asked a dentist about the fluoride issue seeing as we have young kids who don't use fluoridated toothpaste. He said they'll get enough fluoride from drinking a glass a week of town water. I was surprised at how little is required for healthy teeth.

    Since being on tank water, I never want to drink anything else again!

    Hope you're well, Luna. x

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  3. Fantastic post Nikki. I am also a Nikken PiMag Water System user and have been for almost 10 years now. Not only do I love it and use it in my cooking and to wash or soak my vegies my kids love it too. What is more important than looking after our childrens health?
    Jacqui

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  4. we are fortunate to live in an area fed by an artesian well, and our locals recently voted no to further fluoridation and chlorination of the water supply (though it can be flicked back on in case of earthquake). we do have to replace a bit more old pipe, then i think we will be sweet! we ,ike to give our daughter water run through a soda stream as a treat as we don't buy sugary drinks yet most of her friends drink them and she feels a bit like she's missing out sometimes.

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  5. Water supply tanks should indeed be checked regularly. Some people lay simply comforted by the fact that their water is filtered, forgetting that the tank could be contaminated anytime. You know what, I have made sure to stay away from buying bottled water unless completely necessary. The problematic container it comes in is just too high a risk to buy, in my opinion.

    Verna Griffin @ Axeon

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  6. How is the water filter doing nowadays? I haven’t had a chance to read any of your previous posts about it, but I bet besides getting used to its taste and smell, a lot of good changes have manifested upon taking filtered water, especially when it comes to your health. Anyway, thanks for sharing that, Nikki! All the best to you!

    Lois Blake @ Commercial Reverse Osmosis

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  7. This is super interesting. I have never heard of anything like this before. I am definitely a strong believer in filtered water but I also believe in purified water. I do not just want all of the minerals taken out. I want the bad things out and the good salts and minerals kept in. Not easy to find out there.

    Gregory Gibbs @ Aqua Pure Water Systems, LLC

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Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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