Understanding Your Immune System: Why Water Quality Matters
Roughly 60% of the human body is made up of water. This just goes to show how important hydration is to overall health. Not all water is equal, though, and the quality of water that a person consumes can have a great impact on how well it helps the body stay hydrated and avoid sickness. Every vital organ and system needs water to survive, and if the water it’s getting isn’t up to par or is full of microorganisms that can cause illness, it can be bad for your health.
The brain, heart, organs, and all other bodily systems are made up of significant amounts of water. They need that H20 to function properly, and without it, can become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to a variety of different ailments if not addressed appropriately, such as low blood volume shock, kidney and urinary issues, and seizures. But how does water affect the immune system? And does water quality really matter?
Why is water important for the immune system?
When it comes to the immune system, water is crucial. The nutrients you feed your body get passed around through the bloodstream, which is made up of mostly water, and needs to be hydrated enough to properly transport those nutrients to where they need to go. Hydration is also vital to the immune system because it can help to clear out toxins, which could build up and cause problems if the immune system cannot handle the overload.
How do heavy metals affect water quality?
It’s not just getting enough water that’s good for the immune system, but also the quality of the water you’re consuming. Some water may contain heavy metals, and if consumed in large amounts, this can lead to heavy metal toxicity – a problem that can wreak havoc on the immune system because it causes a total breakdown of its function. It does so by affecting how T cells work and by causing an imbalance in important immune cytokines.
Image by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash: Can drinking dirty water lead to heavy metal toxicity?
Is tap water good for your immune system?
Tap water can be good, or not so good, depending on the area it’s coming from. In many cities, tap water is filtered to be healthy enough to drink and doesn’t come with any ill effects. In other places, tap water can pose health risks and needs to be purified before use.
When it comes to tap water and the immune system, the level of purification the water goes through will determine its benefits and effects. If the tap water is filtered well enough, it will do what it’s supposed to do to help immune function – hydrate the body effectively without adding in harmful bacteria.
How can you purify water?
Depending on where you live, the water that comes straight from the tap is likely entirely safe to consume and won’t put you at any risk of developing heavy metal toxicity. If you are concerned about drinking tap water, there are ways you can purify it so that you can be sure you’re drinking the highest quality water possible.
You can start by boiling the water for at least one minute. You could also invest in iodine or chlorine purification drops, although this is not as effective as boiling. There are also some water purifiers available that are designed to get rid of microorganisms. Tabletop water purifying filters are widely available for those looking to filter their water, and studies have shown them to be effective at removing arsenic from water.
Activated carbon has also become a popular tool for purifying water. The activated carbon typically comes in the form of charcoal sticks and is supposed to remove harmful substances from drinking water. The sticks’ purification properties come from their ability to essentially absorb or suck up toxins. Studies have shown that charcoal sticks may be useful, but no more so than any other type of water purification system you can use at home.
Water quality around the world
In many parts of the world, water quality is a grave problem. Nearly half of the population in countries such as Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Chad, and Niger lack access to clean water sources. This leaves the populations vulnerable to various ailments caused by dehydration, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that are in their drinking water, as well as the inability to grow proper food to eat.
Flint, Michigan is another example of how poor water quality can lead to adverse health effects of a small population. For years the people of Flint were unknowingly consuming water with lead in it. Exposure to lead can lead to brain and nervous system damage, slow growth and development, and learning and behavior problems in children. In adults, the same exposure can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and fertility issues.
Image by Ninno JackJr on Unsplash: Many countries do not have access to clean drinking water, meaning citizens have to make arduous round trips to get water that may not even be safe to drink.
Improving water quality for those who need it most
Efforts have been underway to bring clean drinking water to developing nations and war zones for years. Organizations such as Genergosity.org, Pure Water for the World, and Water for Good have been working towards helping various places across the globe gain better access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation practices.
Water quality is a vital component to overall health and the health of the immune system. If you have access to clean drinking water at all time, count yourself lucky and make sure to stay hydrated.
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