Water, an absolutely essential part of human intake, is something that many take for granted. Considering the amount of water that we consume throughout our lives, care really should be given to the potential contaminants that can be hidden inside, away from common knowledge. This article will go over some misconceptions about water quality and hopefully provide good insight into what water we should be putting into our bodies in order to live as long as possible.
In the year 2012, bottled water sales in the United States amounted to $11.8 billion. As such, it would seem a safe assumption that bottled water is superior to tap water. However, the reality is in fact quite different. Bottled water is regulated by the FDA while tap water is regulated by the EPA. The FDA is known to be less funded and less stringent in testing and regulating products than the EPA. This means that often bottled water can contain more unwanted contaminants but because of less regulations, be marketed as “pure.” In a slightly better scenario, bottle water is actually just tap water with additional purification steps. This sounds like a superior product but again that is not always the case. Water kept in plastic bottles, especially in hot environments, can contain leeched contaminants from the plastic itself. For a product that costs 200-2000 times more than tap water, it is clearly not much more than clever marketing without substance. Buying bottled water is basically like giving your money away for nothing.
Tap water, being regulated by the EPA in the United States, is actually quite strictly tested. As such, if you are resident of the United States or another similarly developed nation, tap water quality is fairly high. There are still serious sources of contamination to consider when drinking water directly from the tap. One example would be the pipes connecting to the residence you live in. Old pipes can contain heavy metals or other harmful contaminants that can accumulate in the body. Tap water also can sometimes contain other sources of contaminants that leech into the water or get past testing such as pesticides or various chemicals. In less developed countries, tap water can be much lower in quality and should be avoided if possible. Tap water should generally be considered on a similar level to bottled water but at an extreme fraction of cost.
Extremely pure water should be considered a priority, especially if money is going to be invested into the water we drink. Tap water should first be tested in our home to make sure nothing is far above the acceptable threshold. Then a good water filter should be purchased and used to further filter as a safety measure against contaminants from pipes or unknowns between your house and the filtration plant. If taste is an issue, a few sliced lemons can always be added to mask the taste and add some nutrients. Extremely pure water provides all the benefits without potentially toxic substances accumulating in our bodies. From the standpoint of living as long as possible, quality is of utmost concern in both the food and water we put into our bodies.
As we age, our bodies accumulate damage. This was already discussed in the form of damage to our cells or DNA from free radicals present in our bodies. Other types of damage also occur in our bodies throughout our lives and it is believed that these accumulate to become a major contributor to our death.
The first of these other types of damage to consider is in the form of radiation, toxins, or UV light that we accumulate while living in our natural environments. These are impossible to avoid completely but can be reduced through use of things like sunscreen, or In the case of toxins, focusing on eating the most pristine food and drinking the most pristine water one can find. Reducing the steps of processing and avoiding unwanted toxic contaminants in foods leads to lower buildup in the body. Our bodies are capable of repairing many forms of wear and tear, however it is thought that these systems become unable to keep up over time.
Another form of potentially harmful damage that the body undergoes is that of somatic mutations. When cells divide, they copy their DNA into the new cells. Each time this occurs, there is a chance that mutation to the DNA will occur. These mutations propagate to the the next cell division and potentially accumulate until the cell no longer functions as intended.
When the body requires the process of healing, inflammation is a natural and required occurrence. However, as we age, it is possible to suffer from constant low level inflammation. This can be difficult to detect and eventually lead to damage of arteries and many other parts of the body. Foods such as fruits and vegetables have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties along with many other proven health benefits.
Finally, our body can undergo damage on a larger scale such as that of broken bones or other serious injuries. These can lead to incorrect body function and in the most serious cases, an early death or painful existence later in life. Some damage is unavoidable, but with proper care for the body, many of the effects can be reduced in severity.
Photo via Flickr: ©Karen Reyniers
Kimchi or 김치 in Hangul is a staple of the Korean diet and an amazing food to consider eating. It is great for digestion and an excellent source of vitamins and fiber. It is also low in calories and often made with other extremely beneficial vegetables.
Kimchi comes in many varieties but the most common form consists primarily of napa cabbage. It is combined with other fresh vegetables such as garlic, green onions, Korean red pepper, radishes, and ginger. It is then sealed and placed large jars under the ground to ferment over the winter time. Traditionally, Koreans had very little food during the winter so they would consume the long lasting fermented kimchi to stay alive.
The fermenting process produces a bacteria know as lactic acid bacteria or lactobacillus. It has been shown to be beneficial for digestion similar to yogurt. Cabbage and the other vegetables in kimchi are also outstandingly healthy and have low calorie density. It is loaded with vitamins such as vitamin A and C.
There is one concern when considering kimchi for part of a nutrition plan. Extremely excessive consumption may be linked to stomach cancer, likely from its spicy nature similar to eating too many peppers. It is also could be a result of the fermentation process, especially with kimchi that is intended to ferment quickly and let sit for too long. Fresh homemade kimchi should be consumed instead of packaged kimchi or that made using a questionable process. Kimchi should be consumed in moderation like other parts of our daily nutrition, quality over quantity.
Phosphatidylcholine is an extremely important substance in our body, being the major lipid of the cell membranes and blood protein. It is responsible for the repair of cell membranes, liver function, and the production of a brain chemical called acetylcholine which is important for memory and brain function. Lecithin and Phosphatidylcholine are often discussed as the same thing but actually Phosphatidylcholine is a component of Lecithin being found at varying percentages depending on what the food source was.
Why to Consume
The primary interest in Phosphatidylcholine is that of the effects of this supplement on longevity related to cell membranes. As we age, the levels in our cells deplete causing reduced liver function and cell elasticity. By increasing our intake of Phosphatidylcholine, the goal is to retain high levels in our cells as long as well possibly can. Consumption also promotes improvement to memory and brain function which can be a problem as we age. Essentially, we can keep our cells young and elastic as well as maintain our brain function to that of levels found in youth.
How to Consume
Lecithin and one of its components Phosphatidylcholine are found in natural foods such as egg yolks and animal liver in fairly high percentages. As such, consuming these foods will increase the levels in your body. Consuming very large quantities of liver or eggs on a daily basis however, is both realistically difficult to do, as well as likely to cause some other imbalances with cholesterol or saturated fat levels. A supplement, such as a pill or injection, seem the reasonable alternative. When purchasing a pill however, one needs to be careful about what is actually in the product. Some products labeled as Phosphatidylcholine actually only consist of 35% Phosphatidylcholine. Also, if the source is soy lecithin, does the product contain other unwanted byproducts of the manufacturing process such as hexane residue? The best choice is likely the most pure form of Phosphatidylcholine that one can find. Further, consideration has to be given to the fact that in pill form, less Phosphatidylcholine is likely to make it into the body.
As with foods, care should always be taken to ensure the highest quality supplements are being consumed. Supplements, unlike food found in nature, must undergo processing which adds one more way for unwanted things to enter your body.