Fitness fanatics are warned of the dangers of a new fad that can contain bacteria from dead animals and cause severe diarrhoea.
In a quest to get the dream body for summer, many people are foregoing the usual diet and slimming pills and instead opting for the slight unusual ‘raw water’.
The idea where spring water is consumed directly from the ground originated from California but has now spread to British soil, reports The Daily Post.
However, off-the-gird water is not purified and can be very bad for your health, not least your belly.
I’m confused, what exactly is raw water?
The water we drink, from taps or from bottles, has been through a purification process to remove any potentially dangerous or unpleasant microbes before being either packaged or piped for use.
However raw water is unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized water collected from natural springs.
A company called Live Water, for example, supplies jugs of it to those living in and around San Francisco and LA areas.
Live Water , a raw water company based in Los Angeles, charges $27 (£19.92) for a glass orb containing one litre of water and $69 (£50.91) for a glass gallon dispenser holding 2.5 gallons of water. Tourmaline Spring in Maine offers a 12 pack of one ltr bottles for $35.95 (£26.54).
No longer a fringe movement, raw water is a booming business with sophisticated marketing and influential supporters.
Why are people drinking it?
There are rising concerns in the US about the water systems. Aging pipes and infrastructure issues have resulted in lead contamination.
Fluoride is added to community water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. Although it is not harmful at the levels added to the drinking water, there is strong opposition to the practice.
Advocates in the states say big companies and the government are poisoning the public with treated water, so the trend for untreated water is growing as more and more Americans aim to get off-the-grid.
However, the filtration, chlorination and sanitation processes added to the public drinking water system has almost completely eradicated water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever – diseases that have been long forgotten in the modern world.
Founder of Live Water Mukhande Singh, is a strong believer in the benefits of raw water.
Speaking to The New York Times he said: “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them.”
“Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”
Fans say it has a fresher taste, better “mouthfeel” and a collection of beneficial bacteria that isn’t in tap water. They also say it is more hydrating than tap water.
If you’ve ever been camping, you know that you should bring your own water – or at least the means to purify what you collect from nearby water sources.
Why is it so dangerous?
Untreated water can contain all sorts of natural pathogens – or germs – such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites normally found in water or shed from nearby flora and fauna, which include the dangerous Legionella, Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia bugs. If you haven’t heard of Giardia, it’s a parasitic intestinal complaint commonly known as “beaver fever”. And it is rather unpleasant.
Raw water can also contain bacteria from dead animals, seeping into the water source as their bodies decay in the soil.
Untreated water can also lead to the spread of diseases like cholera, E. coli, Salmonella and Hepatitis A. Which can mean a hefty dose of diarrhoea among other complications.
There’s also the high risk of contaminants, such as animal faeces, urine, carcinogens and naturally occurring hazards such as radiation. Poisonous chemicals like arsenic and radon, which occur naturally in soil and rocks can easily seep into groundwater. Around 91 different contaminants are removed from tap water, but there is little information about what is left in raw water.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), contaminated drinking water is one of the most dangerous yet preventable health risks across the globe.
“Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio,” the WHO says, adding that contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 502,000 diarrheal deaths around the world each year.
Dr. Donald Hensrud, the director of the Healthy Living Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said filtering water is essential for our health. He explained: “Without water treatment, there’s acute and then chronic risks.
“There’s evidence all over the world of this, and the reason we don’t have those conditions is because of our very efficient water treatment.”
So, in a word, no. It isn’t safe.