How Water Quality affects your gut biome
Clean water is arguably the most essential element required for human development and survival. We consume it in various forms each and every day, with it holding a role of some sort in countless bodily functions, making up between 55% to 75% of our total body weight.
As such, the quality of the fluids we consume can significantly impact our overall health. And yet, not all water sources available are in satisfactory condition
In recent years, growing research has been placed around the relationship between our drinking water and the gut biome, namely in how the quality of that water impacts internal functions. In this article, we will discuss what the gut biome is, the effects of drinking good or poor-quality water, how contaminated water can harm our health, and how to test & filter tap water to improve your gut biome.
What is Gut Biome?
When we hear of ‘microorganisms’, the initial impression is likely to keep them as far away from our bodies as possible. In reality, the body actually needs a healthy balance of ‘good’ microorganisms and bacteria to fight off the ‘bad’ sorts.
The gut biome is where this takes place. It is a complex and diverse ecosystem holding trillions of microorganisms living within our digestive system, including bacteria, viruses, and even fungi, each playing a vital role in supporting our overall health. The gut biome allows us to digest our food, produce essential vitamins, hold neurotransmitters, and helps eliminate waste. It also supports our immune system to prevent or fight against autoimmune diseases, allergies, and other diseases.
This ecosystem is dictated by the food, fluids and environmental chemicals we introduce into our bodies through our diets and lifestyle. A poor diet can lead to poor gut health, which in turn has been shown to increase the risk of several chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, asthma and more,
As such, drinking good quality water can positively impact the gut biome by promoting a healthy balance of these microorganisms, aiding in digestion, reducing inflammation, and supporting a healthy immune system. On the other hand, consuming contaminated or poor-quality water can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract, potentially leading to the conditions described above.
If you’re looking at how to improve your gut biome, a great place to start is with the quality of your water.
Concerns for Drinking Contaminated or Poor-Quality Water
Contaminated or poor-quality water can contain various contaminants, such as chemicals, heavy metals, and bacteria, which can wreak havoc amongst our gut biome and overall health. It isn’t always water we find outside of our homes, either. Many rightly wonder whether tap water is bad for you in Australia, learning that contaminants do occur.
Some of the most common culprits include:
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines permit dozens of different chemicals to be introduced to our water sources in order to treat them against common pathogenic bacteria and other dangerous elements that may be present.
The most common is chlorine.
While not technically a contaminant, when there are high levels of chlorine present in the water, this particular chemical will neutralise both the ‘bad’ microorganisms, as well as the ‘good’ within our gut microbiome, disrupting the balance and potentially causing inflammation, digestive issues and even some cancers.
Moreover, Trihalomethanes (THM) are known by-products of chlorine being added to water, which can potentially cause further damage to your cells once ingested, further exacerbating other health issues.
Arsenic is a natural substance found in rocks and soil and is of the more frequent contaminants found in poor-quality water supplies, including tap water. Whether it be through erosion and weathering, or some form of agricultural and industrial oversight, this chemical compound is both widespread and one of the most toxic elements on Earth. Without knowing how to test your tap water quality, as well as how to filter your tap water, you may not even know the damage being done to your gut health.
A selection of expert agencies from across the world, including the IARC from the World Health Organisation (WHO), has classified arsenic as ‘carcinogenic to humans’, meaning it can potentially cause cancer throughout the lungs, bladder, kidney, liver, and prostate.
The ‘Bad’ Bacteria
Of course, there are also a string of bad bacteria that can be found polluting our drinking water, which upset the balance of our gut once ingested.
- Cryptosporidium (Crypto): Faecal matter from infected animals or humans enter water sources via sewage overflows or malfunctions, as well as polluted stormwater runoff.
- E. coli: Another bacteria spread by faecal matter, E. coli often causes severe gastrointestinal distress, with symptoms including gas, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and resulting dehydration.
- Legionella: A natural bacteria located within freshwater sites like streams or lakes, but can grow into an issue when spreading through faucets, hot water heaters, and intricate water systems. Symptoms stem from a cough and shortness of breath to fever and muscle aches.
Drinking water contaminated with these elements can increase the risk of many health issues, and the negative impact on gut health can lead to long-term symptoms.
How to Check Your Tap Water Quality
Let’s revisit: is tap water bad for you in Australia?
Well, that depends on where you are located and the particular water source you are using for drinking water, bathing, washing and so on. When considering tap water and gut health, it is crucial to know how to test its quality. You can do this by contacting your local water authority, or visiting public resources like those at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Water performance monitoring data and reports. You can also purchase your own home water testing kit.
It is recommended that you test your tap water at least once a year, or as frequently as needed if you begin to notice changes in taste, colour or odour.
How to Filter Your Tap Water
Given the potential contamination of harmful elements like arsenic and bacteria in our drinking water, as well as harmful chemicals like chlorine that are meant to ‘treat’ against these elements, it can leave many looking at how to improve their gut biome feeling deflated.
That is why it is important to understand how to filter your tap water for an extra level of protection.
A water filter system can remove impurities such as chlorine, arsenic, heavy metals, organic matter, and bacteria from your tap water, leading to a cleaner alternative for your overall gut health. The zazen Alkaline Water System goes beyond this, offering a 10-stage microfiltration process that not only strips away these nasties, but also reintroduces a balanced range of alkaline minerals with an energised structure for cellular hydration.
Installing a water filter at home is an effective way to ensure that you consume safe and healthy water. For more information, please contact us today.
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