Mind & Body

Are you drinking the right water?

For something so essential to our survival, it’s surprising how little we know about where our drinking water comes from, what goes into it and what comes out of it. MALENA HARBERS decodes what filtered, purified, alkaline and artesian really mean – and how each type measures up


It’s no secret that water is critical for our bodies to function properly. The type of water you drink, however, comes with varied advice. While staying adequately hydrated is the best thing we can do for our health, it turns out there are some subtle nuances between the many types of water on offer. Here’s the lowdown on how best to hydrate your body…

What does natural source mean?

“Natural water comes from a real source, which should be named on the bottle,” says Michael Mascha, water sommelier and founder of the Fine Water Academy. Spring water is a classic example, as is well water and artesian water – a type of free-flowing well water. “They all come from an underground aquifer [an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock], but how the water gets to the surface differs,” says registered dietician nutritionist Malina Malkani. All natural water contains some trace minerals but can only be classified as mineral water if it contains a standard level of naturally present dissolved minerals, with magnesium, calcium and sodium the most common. A recent study shows mineral water is recognized to have real health benefits*, especially in keeping your heart healthy**. When it comes to sparkling water, Mascha estimates that 96 percent is artificially carbonated. “If the water emerges from the source with carbonation, it will be labeled as naturally carbonated,” says Mascha.

What exactly is purified water?

“In the US, there is a lot of bottled water that is processed,” says Mascha. Labeled as purified or prepared water, this is when water has had minerals and possible contaminants removed by reverse osmosis, deionization or distillation. “It’s essentially tap water that runs into a factory, where it gets filtered and polished, meaning a couple of minerals are added back in, and the company builds a beverage for you and calls it bottled water.”

Is tap water really safe to drink?

“Water from the faucet gives your body exactly what it needs,” says Malkani. “Depending on where you live, it may originate in a reservoir, lake, river, aquifer or well, and is safe to drink for most healthy people.” It’s required to be disinfected, filtered and tested regularly. Still, if you’re worried about trace impurities, or simply don’t like the taste of your tap water, try an activated carbon filter or invest in a reverse-osmosis filtration system, which helps to remove larger particles but can deplete minerals, too. “UV-C light is commonly used to purify water,” says Justin Wang, co-founder of LARQ. “These are mercury-based UV lights, which are potentially harmful to your health, whereas LARQ water bottles use mercury- and BPA-free UV-C LED technology to both purify water and clean the bottle on the go.”

Alkaline vs hydrogen

Widely popular, alkaline water has a high pH, thanks to added alkalizing agents such as calcium and magnesium. “It can occur naturally when spring water passes over rocks and picks up minerals,” says Malkani. “You can also make your own with lemon juice and baking soda.” It’s said to act as an antioxidant, boost your immune system and help with weight loss. “I have many patients who report feeling better with this water, but there’s no scientific evidence to back up these accounts,” says naturopathic doctor Dr. Nigma Talib. Equally as trendy, hydrogen water has added hydrogen molecules – an odorless, tasteless gas – and is said to boost energy, lower inflammation and slow down aging. But again, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support the claims.

Is infused water beneficial?

Adding a squeeze of lemon juice works to power up your water. “Lemon helps the liver and gall bladder work more efficiently,” says Talib. Meanwhile, a pinch of mineral-rich Himalayan salt is beneficial for boosting electrolytes. “Sodium is necessary to help your body balance fluids and can prevent dehydration.” And while the healing benefits of crystal-infused water are real for some, Malkani confirms there’s no clinical evidence to support this. But, she says, there’s always the power of the placebo effect.

Does temperature matter?

“Water is best drunk at either room temperature or warm,” says Talib. “It’s difficult for your body to absorb something cold, and warm water supports your digestion by dilating the blood vessels in the gut.” With this in mind, Mascha advises against adding ice to your water. Not only will it drop the temperature, but “it will dilute a premium water, because ice cubes are most commonly made from tap water,” she says.


Drinking-water standards, classifications, legal requirements and advice may vary from country to country. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

*Sara Quattrini, Barbara Pampaloni, and Maria Luisa Brandi, “Natural mineral waters: chemical characteristics and health effects”

**World Health Organisation, “Nutrients in Drinking Water”

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