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Staying hydrated is important for maintaining good health. Is drinking distilled water, rather than other types of water, a healthy option?
This article explores the qualities of distilled water compared with other types of water and analyzes whether it is safe and healthy to drink.
Because water has no calories or sugar, it is a better choice than sodas and fruit juices to keep hydrated. Sodas and fruit juices usually contain a lot of sugar, which actually removes water from the body.
While reaching for a glass of water may seem simple, there are many different types of water available to drink, including:
- plain tap water
- spring water
- distilled water
- well water
Each type of water has its own set of benefits, but some do carry risks. Distilled water is formed from the steam of boiling water. By boiling the water, minerals and other impurities are removed, leaving the distilled water in a “purer” state.
Because of this, some people believe that drinking distilled water can help cleanse the body of unnecessary chemicals. Other people, however, think that the minerals present in drinking water are necessary for good health.
Almost all water has some impurities in it. These impurities can include:
The boiling and evaporation processes involved in creating distilled water remove these impurities. Some people think that distilled water tastes flat because it lacks:
- other inorganic compounds
In essence, distilled water is not very different from other types of purified water. The only thing that differs is the way the water is purified.
Distillation is an old method of water purification. It is a relatively complicated process and difficult to do at home without a water distillation machine.
Many municipalities in seaside communities use distillation facilities to treat ocean water, which their residents then use as drinking water.
Distilled water is safe to drink as part of a balanced diet.
For people who are fasting, those who have cancer, infants who are weaned off baby formula, small children, and athletes, purified water may be a better option to prevent electrolyte imbalance — particularly if a person is not adequately replacing the lost minerals with food or other drink sources.
On the whole, drinking distilled water is not problematic. Many people in developed countries eat a varied diet and get their hydration and nutrition from a variety of sources. Healthy adults who eat a balanced diet can drink distilled water if they prefer this method of water purification.
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- a flat taste that many people find unappealing, leading to reduced water consumption
- a decrease in the body’s metabolic function
- an increase in urine output that could result in electrolyte imbalance
According to the WHO, these and other associated health problems are partly due to the lack of minerals and electrolytes in distilled water. This lack forces unhealthy changes in the delicate balance of sodium, potassium, fluid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and other nutrients in the body.
When the body loses water through sweating and urine output, it loses sodium and other minerals in addition to water. In order for the body to function properly, a person must replace those minerals.
Drinking distilled water will not replace minerals lost through sweat, as all additives and minerals will have been removed during the distillation process.
Distilled water pulls in small amounts of minerals from any material it touches, including plastics and the body (including one’s teeth). Still, if a person eats a balanced diet with the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, they should not become deficient.
Since most people eat and drink a variety of foods and beverages throughout the day, most people will get the salts and minerals they need from these other sources.
It is not dangerous to drink distilled water as part of a balanced diet. A balanced diet should include foods that replace any minerals lost through sweat.
Distilled water does have potential advantages. These may include:
- Cleansing the body with pure water: When drinking distilled water, a person is consuming water with no other additives. Because distilled water is pure, some people believe that it can be cleansing for the body, though data on this are limited.
- Reducing the risk of disease: Distillation removes waterborne pathogens. Most waterborne disease-causing bacteria do not survive distillation.
- Reducing the risk of consuming harmful chemicals: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does allow for low levels of certain harmful chemicals in drinking water. In distilled water, none of these chemicals are present.
When choosing drinking water, a person may want to consider the following factors:
- the quality of the local tap water
- their taste preference
- the quality of vitamins and minerals in the diet
- the cost point
- the availability of other types of drinking water