Pure Water A Necessity

Water has been in the news a lot: there has been the Toledo, Ohio incident affecting 400,000 residents because toxins of algae from Lake Erie entered into the public water system. At about the same time in northern British Columbia, Canada there was a broken dam from a mining company’s toxic wastewater reservoir spilling toxic wastewater into the Fraser River drinking water system.

Between 60 and 70% of our bodies are made up of water. We need water for a multitude of biochemical reactions that constantly take place within us. We need water to “run the engine”. This includes detoxification of our bodies as water is a large part of our kidney excretions (urine) and still is a significantly percentage of our stools. Water is the basis for our blood circulation.

Having said all this it is important that we insist only drinking pure water. In the following I will describe why this can be a problem and how to solve this problem.

Brief history of water purification

The first sand filter for water purification was developed in Scotland by a private company in 1804.

Based on this success, the Chelsea Waterworks Company in London in 1829 was founded, which was the first public water supply in the world. When a  choleraepidemic hit London in 1854, physician Dr. Snow discovered that cholera was confined to those districts in London where water was not purified and he provided the authorities with a dot map depicting the cholera cases in London, which correlated with the water system that used no filtration methods. When the pumps were switched off in this district of London, the cholera epidemic subsided.

Europe adopted the English model in the late 1800’s and added sewage treatment plants in order to separate wastewater from drinking water. The first sewage treatment plant was built in Frankfurt in 1887. This was necessary because of huge epidemics of cholera and typhoid fever that swept through Europe. When separation of sewage and drinking water was achieved, these epidemics stopped.

It is interesting that minimal water standards were introduced in the US only in 1914 and it took until 1940 before water purity was legislated federally.

Pure Water A Necessity

Pure Water A Necessity

Toxins in water

Townships have to get the drinking water they pipe into your house from somewhere. Often this is a lake, an artesian well or several artesian wells combined; in the past it was from rivers, but they are now mostly contaminated with sewage and chemicals.

There is the added problem that natural soil compositions vary tremendously throughout a country, so that arsenic is found very high in some parts of the world and the drinking water can be high in arsenic in those places.

Arsenic is contained naturally in soils of some areas, so-called “hot spots“.

It follows from here that some springs can also be contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals. Heavy metals poison our internal enzyme systems and interfere with the body’s metabolism.

A well is more likely to contain arsenic than a river or lake as a water source. But we do not only concern ourselves with toxins; viruses and bacteria are also a problem.

Bacterial and viral contamination

In Europe, before cities built sewage systems it was not uncommon that excrements from humans and animals found their way into the well that was used for drinking water. We like to think that we are safe now with all of the laws and measures in place, but the various news stories teach us otherwise. Common bacterial contaminants are Salmonella, E.coli (strain O157:H7), Giardia lamblia, Legionella, the parasite Cryptosporidium and others.

In Canada there was a tragic incident in 2000 where thousands of residents of Walkerton, a small town in Ontario were exposed to E.coli (strain O157:H7). This was due to a chlorination unit that was not working, but those who were responsible for water quality maintenance were denying it and were not even properly trained to run the chlorination equipment.

Water testing

Water testing is at the beginning of any water purification system and intermittent ongoing testing is at the center of monitoring water quality on a permanent basis. Water inspectors need to constantly monitor the water source, the water purification process and the delivery system.

Many people in rural Canadian or US towns depend on well water. The same logic is true for water quality with regard to well water as it is for municipal water; just it is on a smaller scale.

You want to know what your water is like. It is not difficult to find out: take a water sample and have it analyzed at a water company. Depending on the result the water company will advise you what kind of filter you will need.

The first purification stage typically is an activated carbon filter that removes organic compounds, radon and other impurities. Every three or four days the filter automatically backwashes and cleans itself for about 45 minutes. Once a year the activated carbon has to be removed and replaced by a new filter. This type of filter is also useful for people who are on municipal water, but want to remove the halogens (fluoride, bromide, chloride) used to disinfect municipal water.

The second stage is an ultraviolet irradiation device. This disinfects the water just prior to coming to your water tap from any bacteria, viruses or parasites.

It is recommended that you also install a reverse osmosis system under your main kitchen sink. It will provide you with purified drinking water. Water produced by this filter goes through additional activated carbon filters and finally must pass through a porous membrane where only water can pass through, but heavy metals and other impurities will not. During an outbreak of Cryptosporidium in 1996 in Kelowna, BC those who had a reverse osmosis system were safe from this pathogen.

You can brush your teeth with confidence with reverse osmosis water, even if your drinking water is contaminated.

Proper water purification

If you are on municipal water, find out what system the municipality is using to ensure water safety. Usually there is a first step of a slow sand filter, where the raw water is first purified, then it undergoes a water chlorination, bromination or fluoridation process, which is done to remove bacteria and viruses. We know, however from a series of outbreaks of Cryptosporidium gastroenteritis cases in municipalities that only used this two stage purification process, that a third step, namely ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, is also necessary to eradicate this microscopic parasite.

Cryptosporidium was the problem behind a drinking water problem in the summer of 1996 in Kelowna, BC, the town of the interior of BC, Canada where I live. 50,000 residents had to get their drinking water from water trucks that were parked at certain locations of the town (about 40% of the population was affected by this water problem). Kelowna now has a modern ultraviolet irradiation system in place.

Immune system compromised people

People whose immune system is compromised such as AIDS patients or patients who had chemotherapy for cancer are very susceptible to Cryptosporidium and other parasites, bacteria and viruses. For them it is particularly important that the third stage, the ultraviolet irradiation step be part of the municipal water treatment process. If this is missing, have a home unit installed by a water company.


It is interesting to see how in Europe the history of water purification has been tightly linked to the history of cholera and typhoid fever epidemics; the quest for learning from these mistakes of the past has brought new solutions. The mistake in the past had been that in water sources wastewater contaminated the drinking water sources. To our modern thinking this seems unimaginable. But recent events that we read about in the news remind us that we cannot be lax on water purification. It is a reality that the same mistakes from the past are still sporadically made now! Know your water source; know the water quality of the water you brush your teeth with (for instance use only bottled water for this in Mexico). Remember that in many development countries to which you may travel there is no clear separation of drinking water and wastewater and there may not be a three-phase filtration system in place that I described above.

Enjoy drinking your clean, refreshing clean water until I meet you again in another blog.

More information on gastroenteritis (from unclean water):

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014


Living In A Toxic World

In the past nobody worried about toxicities except parents when their children were gnawing on lead paint. Paint always contained lead and people thought that it was only children we had to worry about, adults were “immune” to this. We learnt a lot about lead toxicity from early studies in Germany and it was there that EDTA was developed in 1935 to treat children with lead toxicity. During and after the Second World War when ships were repainted with lead containing paints a lot of soldiers were poisoned with lead and the EDTA treatment protocols that had been developed earlier for children were found to be also effective for adults.

Fast forward to 2013. We all have heard of lead poisoning from Chinese made toys, from Chinese fashion jewelry and we have heard of the melamine poisoning of baby food and candies. These are not the only poisonings. Mercury is in the air; it is also present in light bulbs and in cruise ship exhaust fumes from incineration of light bulbs and batteries. We have over 600 chemicals and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, which is perhaps the largest “legal” roulette game involving humans where several poisons are inhaled at once. Our water is chlorinated or fluoridated, which interferes with our thyroid gland function. Vegetables that are supposed to be healthy for us contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens.  They are known to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Milk in the US often contains antibiotics and genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which again can cause various cancers in humans as this link shows.

rBGH is banned in Europe and in Canada. The problems do not stop at chemicals in our water, environment, food and air, the newest threat is genetically modified food like wheat, corn and high fructose corn syrup, which is manufactured from GMO corn. Other GMO foods are golden rice, sugar beet, yellow crookneck squash, cotton for cottonseed oil, soybeans, canola, Hawaiian papaya, just to name a few. GM food is illegal in most European countries, but the US is trying very hard to push for “fair trade practices” in order to expand the market for GM foods.

Living In A Toxic World

Living In A Toxic World

How does all of this affect your body? One of the publications from France found that genetically modified food is likely responsible for the increase of endometriosis in women. This link explains that xenobiotics-associated genetically modified foods contain glyphosate (a herbicide) and Cry1Ab protein that affects the women’s hormone metabolism and causes the lining of the uterus to become invasive to cause endometriosis.

There have been attempts to study toxicity of GM foods in animal experiments, but the pitfall was a wrong testing time of only 90 days , which was chosen for these experiments, and “no differences” were found between test and control animals (all the official statements about GMO food “safety” in the US are based on these “standard tests”). However, there are other studies that found significant differences after only 4 weeks of feeding rats and mice 10% GMO food mixed with regular feed as this link shows. The full impact of genetically modified foods will not be seen until 3 generations or more in animal experiments, which  is the equivalent of 90 years or more in humans (or 80 years from now given that significant amounts of GM food has been around in the food industry for about 10 years. One human generation is generally defined as 30 years. The animal studies show that with GMO food there is a higher mortality in rats and mice and that infertility is getting worse from generation to generation.

With respect to chemicals the toxic effects on the body can be seen a lot faster than with GMO foods. The toxins such as carcinogens and xenoestrogens are often fat-soluble, which means that obese people have more toxins stored than lean people. Mercury, cadmium and lead were found in a study to have caused specific protein folding problems within the cells. This explains bone marrow toxicity, liver and kidney toxicity and brain and heart toxicity. In other words these are the organs where cells contain most of the mitochondria in the body and heavy metals are blocking their energy metabolism leading to aberrant body functions. As a result auto-immune diseases have increased dramatically,inflammatory conditions are common , and cancer rates are up.

How do we defend ourselves in a toxic world?

1. Food preparation

First you need to switch from regular foods to organic foods. Also throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are also free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. As some toxins will be released from the fatty tissue, if you are obese or overweight and you loose weight, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination. Fiber from  organic fruit and vegetables or oat bran are also beneficial.

On the long term it is less money to buy organic foods and prepare your own meals than going out to restaurants to eat. It is also much healthier and tasty. Avoid fast food chains as their processed foods contain artery clogging trans fats, GM foods and other questionable ingredients like “pink slime”. You do not need a cooking class to prepare a decent dinner. Read cookbooks for inspiration and modify the recipes to suit your own style. Remember to use only organic ingredients. You can’t create a healthy meal with non-organic ingredients mixed in (it’s like you start adding poisons). Break the old habits, do it right! Replace butter with olive oil. Replace sugar with organic stevia (a plant sweetener). Avoid flour (especially wheat flour). Replace it, if you must with flour from oats, spelt or farro (at this point none of them have been  genetically modified). Because wheat has been chemically modified in the 1960’s and 1970’s and gliadin is about 7-fold higher, brain receptors react differently than to the “old” wheat. As a result many individuals find that they want more- bread, pasta, wheat cereal, bagels…you name it! The huge surge in obesity is just the final result. Cutting out wheat and otherwise reducing the intake of grains may be a big step, but  is well worth the effort! Another problem with bakery products is that the food industry is using bromine for rising and chlorine for bleaching so this adds to the toxic burden of the thyroid gland. Cut out wheat, pasta and bread and you will gain health.

2. Detoxification

If you had a lot of exposure to heavy metals in the past, you may want to see a naturopath for intravenous chelation treatments with vitamin C (10 Grams) and glutathione (1250 mg) every two weeks for some time until they are out of your system. If you have a lot of silver/mercury amalgam tooth fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist and have them replaced with non-amalgam ceramic or gold inlets or crowns. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste despite your dentist’s recommendation: it is toxic as it poisons enzyme systems in your body and causes cancer of the intestines over a longer period of time. Use  a fluoride-free toothpaste from the health food store. After dental cleanings refuse the fluoride gel for the same reason. Brush your teeth frequently and floss your teeth regularly after meals. Your heart and cardiovascular system will thank you for this.

3. Eliminate other toxins from your personal care products

Check your cosmetics, shampoos, hair conditioners as well as your underarm deodorants, body wash, lip balm and sun tan lotion. Do they have parabens, triclosan (often in deodorants) or phthalates in them? They are weak carcinogens or immune disruptors. If they do, replace them with a healthier product from the health food store that does not contain these harmful ingredients. Use BPA free plastic containers for water during sport activities, they are quite affordable and can be ordered online. BPA free food containers are also available in super markets, department stores and some drug stores.

4. Clean up your home environment

Avoid toxic cleaning agents, solvents, paints, and other chemicals. If you have to deal with chemicals, be sure to ventilate your living spaces. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint, if possible and air out well until dry. Always use vinyl gloves to protect your skin as any thinners or paints get absorbed through the skin within a few minutes and are toxic to your system. If there is construction in your house or you move into a newly constructed home, air out frequently by opening the windows on and off until the “new” chemical odors have gone. New clothes contain chemical agents from the factory; so wash them frequently until the chemicals are diluted out. Avoid fabric softeners as they are chemicals (or use a biological product, if you feel you must use one).

5. Pay attention to your water

As drinking water is treated with chemicals (fluorine, chlorine or bromine) to make it bacteria free, it is best to drink only reverse osmosis water, bottled water, distilled water or mineral water. The rest of the household water should be defluoridated, dechlorinated or debrominated with a good carbon filter. Talk to your water treatment company and get it done.

6. Hormone balance

The aging process and the toxins in our environment affect our hormone glands and we produce less hormones as we get older than our ancestors did, but our ancestors overall did not live as long as we are today. A lot of this is due to exposure to immune disruptors like BPA’s from the older water bottles and long-term exposure to xenoestrogens (from residues of artificial fertilizers on non-organic vegetables).

We need balanced hormones, it is important to have them checked by a knowledgeable doctor (either an A4M anti-aging physician or a naturopath) and replaced only by bio-identical hormone creams (not synthetic factory produced pseudo-hormones). Common problems as we age are hypothyroidism, sex hormone deficiencies both in women and men, but also human growth hormone deficiencies in some (measured by IGF-1 blood levels). Without proper hormone balance all the organic food in the world will not be the answer to good health.

7. Vitamin and mineral supplements

Finally, vitamin and mineral supplements are important to support the mitochondria in your cells. Although no vitamin and mineral list is ever complete, I have summarized what I consider to be essential here. Even, if you start simple with only vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement you are doing great.

The only other thought is to take a slow-release capsule of iodine twice per day, which would protect you from radioactive iodine in the environment or food (Compounding pharmacies may be your best source). One capsule generally contains 5 mg of elemental iodine and 7.5 mg of iodide .As time goes on you may want to gradually investigate the other supplements to see whether they would be suitable in your particular case.

We all would like to enjoy a long and happy, disease-free life. This can no longer be achieved by sticking to the old eating habits (needless to say that smoking and drinking are out too, because they are toxic to your system). You may as well enjoy organic foods and gradually work yourself through the 7 points I mentioned above. This will ensure that the mitochondria of all your major organ systems will function at their best, and as a result you will feel energized!

More information on vitamins, minerals, supplements and detoxification:

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014