Medicine

Raw water: Inside the latest health drink craze

Raw water: Inside the latest health drink craze

"Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water", food safety expert Bill Marler told Business Insider this week. To combat the scourge of regular tap water (or bottled water, for that matter), they offer 11 liter bottles of "unfiltered, unsterilized, untreated spring water". The reality, though, is one that could involve serious illnesses uncommon in modern America. A 2.5-gallon (9.5-litre) glass orb retails for US$60.99 (up from US$36.99 since the Times' article); and refills cost US$14.99.

Raw water enthusiasts, however, still maintain that treated water strips the water of many beneficial minerals and adds many harmful additives to the water that can cause long-term health consequences.

Drinking untreated water comes with a significant risk, as there are dozens of diseases that spread through contaminated water - through bacteria, parasites and viruses. More recently, a Natural Resources Defense Council report found more than 80,000 violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.

The company transports and stores the raw water in refrigerated facilities to protect the healthy probiotics present in the water.

"We're glad people are so interested in water quality and the value they're placing in safe water", said Vince Hill, who heads the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Untreated water taken from unprotected surface or groundwater supplies is subject to contamination from pathogens (some of which may be from agriculture or wildlife) and chemicals that could pose a public health risk.

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Raw food advocates have been expounding the health benefits of a "raw" diet for a long time, but now there is another "raw" fad that has come into existence and it is not a food.

Another raw water supplier, Live Water, in Los Angeles, Calif., claims a range of vague and scientifically unsupported health benefits.

"Real water" should expire after a few months.

Those who sell it hold that all this virginal unprocessed-ness is super good for you.

There have been countless infections across the United States in recent years, such as the norovirus from a spring water site in New Mexico that left 100 people ill, or giardia from a spring and stream camp that sickened 21 in Alaska. Proponents of "raw water" are particularly concerned about tap water because fluoride is added (which has been shown to improve dental hygiene) and some tap water flows through lead pipes. It's discouraging to see citizens in one of the world's richest countries kick all that away and expose themselves to the same dangers children in Africa are forced to bear just to feel better than their peers.


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