The Thing About Water

It was many years ago when the first warnings came out. In fact, a 1999  study found that 22 percent of bottled water brands had at least one sample containing chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. It wasn't long after that when a study from Goethe University at Frankfurt found that a high percentage of the bottled water contained in plastic containers was polluted with estrogenic chemicals.

Since then, the research has just kept piling on the fact that water stored in plastic containers simply isn't safe. Over the past few years, research uncovered the fact that the plastics commonly used for water bottle storage release a chemical called bisphenol-A into the water. Bisphenol-A (aka BPA) is what is known as a "xenoestrogen." Xenoestrogens are chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies, fooling us into thinking we have more estrogen inside us than we do. This creates numerous problems, for males and females alike. Estrogen dominance is a frequent cause of perimenopausal health problems, and the presence of too much estrogen-like chemicals in men can cause infertility and unwanted physical changes.

Bottle-makers began switching over to "BPA-free" plastics, and all seemed well and good for a few years, until more recent news came in: A full 33% of all plastics leach toxins into food and water, regardless of whether they were BPA-free or not. In addition to xenoestrogens, other toxins were released into the water in as little as 2-3 days, according to a Swedish study.

This would not have a major effect on products such as reusable water bottles, such as those used by cyclists and runners, as those are emptied within hours, long before toxins or xenoestrogens would be able to leach into the water. Which is why I'm comfortable using BPA-free reusable water bottles as one of the rewards for the members of my DocAltMed Fitness Team.

However, it never sat so well with me that the water coming from the bubbler in the reception room of my office was stored in plastic bottles. Even though I had been assured by my suppliers that the plastic was BPA-free, the most recent studies made it clear that there was little doubt that the water I was supplying to my patients was tainted.

One of the key tenets for me as a doctor is that I must walk the talk. The only way, in my mind, that I could possibly have the authority to tell people to fundamentally alter their lifestyles is to live a healthy lifestyle myself. (Thus the bike (or trike) sitting by the door, where I park it after riding it to work.) And it seemed to me that giving people water which has likely been sullied by toxins was probably not in keeping with my core principles, particularly when you consider the amount of my professional life I spend cajoling people to imbibe the stuff.

But it wasn't easy to change. I searched high and low for bottled water companies that would deliver in old-style glass carboys. And, in fact, there is one -- in Baltimore. The Center, apparently, is outside of their delivery area.

Then again, who needs bottled water, I thought? All I really need is a cooler/bubbler, a glass carboy, and a water source. So I had the well water at the Center tested, and it was clean of all of the contaminants that I could test for. In addition, it is moderately hard, giving the well water a pleasing taste.

So a couple of weeks ago, I fired my bottled water company and we went online with our clean, fresh, local water. After getting everything all set up, Teresa and I noticed an enjoyable side benefit. As you draw water from the tap, and the bubbles pop to the surface of the carboy, they make a pleasant and happy "Ping!", very unlike the "blurp" of the old plastic bottles, which sounded a bit like an old man's response to a fatty meal.

So if you would like to sample our very tasty well water, and experience it's delicious Ping!, stop by the Center for a glassful. You don't need to be a patient. Just thirsty.

Dr. Avery Jenkins is a chiropractic physician specializing in the treatment of people with chronic disorders. He can be reached at alj@docaltmed.com or by calling 860-567-5727.