Like me, you've probably read about major water contaminations after an oil spill, but have you ever had to boil your drinking water? Recently drinking water in Portland, Oregon and surrounding communities tested positive for containing fecal matter. An announcement was sent to all residents and businesses instructing people to boil their water IMMEDIATELY. This included water for drinking, food preparation, ice and even teeth brushing. Three separate water samples tested positive for E coli and total coliform. These bacteria may cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. After more testing, a water alert for the whole state was ordered until the water was cleared of contamination. This affected homes, restaurants and hotels. It was crazy and made me think about how vulnerable we all are to the modern convenience of running tap water.
Contaminated water runs throughout the United States
A recent article by National Geographic highlighted several reasons drinking water in the US may be contaminated. Causes included natural disasters, chemical spills and broken storage tanks. Sometimes water contamination is obvious, as in the case in Tennessee when coal sludge spilled over 300 acres of land and water or when Hurricane Floyd flushed hog waste throughout streams and rivers in North Carolina. Most of the time however, it is less obvious, which makes it more worrisome and dangerous. For example, sewage treatment plants are not equipped to deal with pharmaceutical waste like antibiotics or harmful chemicals from cleaning products so they end up not only in our drinking water, but in the water farmers use to grow the produce and live stock we eat. That's a double or triple dose of toxins for our body to deal with.
I have well water and filter my drinking AND bathing water throughout the house.
I use a Chanson Water System and wrote about the importance of filtered water in another blog. My own drinking/bathing water may be filtered, but I worry about others, including my own children who rely on city water. I wonder if they boiled their water sufficiently or took the risk seriously. Having contaminated water is more than just an inconvenience; it's a health risk. A gut overrun with bad bacteria can do more harm than a day or two of diarrhea. Your gut is connected to your health in so many ways. Your immune system, cognition and heart depend on good bacteria to keep them healthy. A gut over run with bad bacteria leads to many disease/illnesses including cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, IBS and the list goes on.
A water filter system throughout your house may not be affordable or practical.
With so many natural and environmental toxins in our water, it's important to know what's in the water you drink. As proven by the water scare in Oregon and throughout the US, city water plants are not fail proof. Even without contaminated water, most city water has added fluoride and other chemicals. Every house should have some sort of filter system whether it's a simple water pitcher with a carbon filter or something more elaborate. The Environmental Working Group (my go to for health/safety information) has a great list of filters for your water in a variety of price ranges to fit your needs/wants. A simple carbon filter that you put tap water into is better than drinking straight from the tap. Don't be fooled by bottled water either. Many have added chemicals including fluoride and disinfectants. Bringing water to a full boil for one minute is another option. You can then store the water in the refrigerator. Remember to store your water in BPA free containers. Today there are many personal and gallon size water containers available.
Bacteria are all around us and we may never know where bad bugs are lurking.
How many times are foods recalled because of E. coli in our drinks and/or food? It's usually not discovered until people are already sick. A study reported by Natural Resources Defense Council states that drinking water tested in 19 US cities might be dangerous. This makes me wonder how many more cities that weren't in the study would test positive for an excess of bad bacteria? Even if you are careful of what you buy in stores and farmers market, you can still be at risk. I guess my community is lucky that our water supply is checked often and we were warned quickly about the contamination, but what can YOU do to protect yourself from these unexpected bad bugs? Thankfully, it's not too hard to replenish your good gut bugs and keep the bad gut bugs contained. Whole organic fresh and fermented foods provide live enzymes and probiotics that gobble up bad bacteria, helping you stay healthy.
Our family's health is a top priority for me and I hope it is for you too.
Although I'd like to think that the US is a modern country with sanitary conditions, you never know what or where bacteria grow. My family and I have a created a barrier against bad bugs with our fermented probiotic foods that we take all the time. I'm not as concerned with what may be in the water or on the table or counters; not to mention if servers and cooks don't thoroughly wash their hands. It's almost too horrible to imagine, but these are the Real Facts and Real Concerns of life! Protection is up to you. You and your family need to be safe from these every day dangers. If there is a known outbreak of some bacteria, or if you're eating a yummy 'dirty dog" from a food cart in NY, sipping on a Margarita in Mexico or just eating out at a local diner, make sure you protect your gut with probiotics. Why take chances when you don't have to?
We're not in Kansas anymore.
Contaminated water and foods are serious. Fermented, probiotic foods kill bad gut bacteria like nobodies business. I always bring some with me when I travel-especially to Mexico so I don't get sick. The WHOLE family has probiotics the entire time we are in another country. In fact, we're planning our trip to Europe and I'm packing a full case of probiotics to take with us. I don't want to spend my vacation laying in bed with stomach cramps and spending time in the bathroom throwing up or sitting on the toilet. I want my gut to be protected and enjoy my trip!