In the past few years I’ve become much more invested in health beyond food and exercise. From my struggles with adrenal fatigue, I learned that even if you have your food and exercise “on point”, if you don’t address your stress levels, you can totally run yourself into the ground and wreck your health. But even if you’re actively working to manage your physical and mental/emotional stress levels, there can still be other things putting a major burden on your body that are coming from our environment – in everything from the air we breathe, to the plastics we use, the water we drink, the things we use to clean our houses, and what we’re putting on our bodies every day (in addition to what we’re putting IN our bodies through food!)
Now, it’s quite easy to freak out about all this and feel like you have to completely detoxify every single possible thing in your environment that you believe might be killing you or keeping you sick. Hold your horses, tiger. This isn’t gonna do anything great for your stress levels or mental health either.
It also helps to note who this is extremely important for. Sure, everyone and anyone would do great to minimize their toxin exposure as much as possible. But there are definitely constraints on the amount of resources people can devote to this (budget, time, ease of switching routines) so it’s important to be honest and realistic with what you can actually start to change right now, and what you can maybe aim to change in the future. Remember, every little bit counts. If you have a preexisting health condition, for example something like an autoimmune disease, a bacterial overgrowth or parasite infection, heavy metal toxicity, etc. – this is where it becomes extremely important to get the ball rolling on assessing your total body burden, to make it easier for your body to do its job and heal – so you can start feeling better faster!
So what can we do?
Start with the low hanging fruit. Literally.
I talk about food all the time on the blog and podcast, so I won’t wax poetic about that. But starting with the low-hanging fruit means assessing what you are exposed to the most every day and seeing how you can minimize that exposure. Example: we eat food multiple times a day. If you’re eating food that may have been sprayed with glyphosates, pesticides, and is GMO, we want to change that as best we can by using things like the Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen lists from the Environmental Working Group and buying organic where possible.
So what’s next? What else are we exposed to multiple times a day, where we can make a relatively easy change? You may not be able to change the air you breathe (it’s not like we can all move out to the Rockies in Colorado and live on the side of a mountain), next up would be your water.
Do you have any idea what’s in your water?
This can also be a scary thought. “What do you mean, what’s in my water??” Did you know that, the EPA only regulates 94 contaminants in tap water; but of those regulated contaminants, there are many more harmful pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and pharmaceutical drugs do not make the list? Most cities add chlorine to water to kill bacteria. Here’s the problem – the same chlorine that is added to kill bacteria in our water supply (don’t get me wrong, this is helpful so that we don’t get sick) also kills the healthy bacteria in your gut. It’s like taking antibiotics every time you drink tap water.
Chromium 6, also known as chromium-hexvalent, is a contaminant that nearly 200 million Americans across all 50 states have been exposed through their tap water to higher-than-recommended levels. Chromium-6 is a known cancer-causing chemical, is found in about 80% of the US water supply, and it is toxic at extremely low levels.
If you have thyroid issues, avoiding chlorine is a biggie. With prolonged chlorine exposure (or ingestion), your thyroid may actually absorb and store chlorine in place of iodide, which is absolutely essential for your thyroid to convert T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone, with 4 iodine) to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone, with 3 iodine).
Fluoride is another big one to look out for with thyroid issues, especially those of us with Hashimoto’s in our families. Studies have shown that the presence of fluoride in tap water has a negative impact on both TSH and T3 hormones in hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s patients, even in the standard concentration of fluoride in tap water of less than 0.5 mg/L. (Source) More on this here: Should Fluoride be added to our tap water?
So basically, we need to be filtering our water. And we need a GOOD filter, at that. As much as it would be amazing to believe all our water came from totally unpolluted wells in our backyards and tasted like it just rolled off the mountains…it’s not so for the vast majority of us. If you live even remotely near a city, you’re probably dealing with some pollution from the air, runoff, and depending on the water treatment by you, there will be varying levels of chemicals, antibiotics and prescription drugs (that people flush down their toilets), hormones and lots of other lovely stuff in our water supply.
It’s enough to make you want to spit that swig of water you just took right out. Weren’t we just talking about trying to minimize our exposure to these toxins by paying attention to what’s in our food, our house cleaning and personal care products…and it’s in the water we drink every day?
Now that’s something we can change in a big way with just a few simple steps, and it doesn’t have to be insanely expensive either. And trust me, it’s worth it – to avoid all that junk in our water, and plus, it tastes a LOT better.
The first thing you can do is check your tap water status via the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database. It’ll show you who filters your water, whether or not the tap water in your area is “in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards”, the contaminants found in the water supply, extensive testing history, where those contaminants are coming from, and the potential effects those contaminants could have on your health. (Source: EWG)
For example, in my area, we’ve tested positive for these contaminants in levels that *exceed* the federal health guidelines for:
Bromodichloromethane, Chloroform, Chromium (hexavalent), Dibromochloromethane, Radiological Contaminants, and Trihalomethanes, which are are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants.
GREAT. Plus 9 other contaminants detected in levels that are below the EWG’s health guidelines. But still. GREAT.
The nice (and reassuring) thing about the EWG website is that right after it tells you all about the contaminants in your area, there is a section where you can learn all about the different types of water filters to fit all sorts of budgets. You can even specify which contaminants in particular you want to filter out.
Not to throw shade, but I had a Brita filter for YEARS before I realized it wasn’t really doing much. Sure, it was doing some…but I didn’t realize until a few months ago that compared to the other filters I was researching, my filter really wasn’t doing much of anything at all. Brita reduces 4 carbon-bonded chemicals (Copper, Cadmium, Mercury, Zinc), plus the taste and odor of Chlorine. Good start, right?
But here’s the kicker. Or, a few of them, really.
Not all filters are made the same. While most people (including myself!) might think as long as they’re using a filter, the water is clean…this is far from the case.
According to a University of California-Berkeley Study on Tap Water vs. Brita: “Brita traps, but does not kill bacteria. Because the filter cannot kill bacteria, it actually becomes a breeding ground for the microorganisms if not changed regularly. An old, unchanged Brita filter can be dangerous because its use may add bacteria, which had been killed in the tap by chlorine, back into water.”
Brita also doesn’t filter out the THM’s (Trihalomethanes, the potentially cancer-causing compounds I mentioned are found in my water supply, above) or anything other than those 5 compounds listed above. What about those 89 other regulated contaminants, let alone the other ones that aren’t regulated by the EPA? So we’ve still got the contaminants from runoff, pollution, medications, hormones, etc., and since it is only a single-stage filtration system, they can’t guarantee that they actually remove these compounds, but rather, only reduce them in your water supply. Click here for a Brita vs. Clearly Filtered review / comparison video!
Might be time for a new filter. So I switched to one that filters a broad range of over 220 contaminants, in a triple-stage filtration system, so it can actually remove rather than just reduce all those contaminants, for the WIN.
Enter the Clearly Filtered Pitcher.
Here’s the deal. I’m renting my current place, and I don’t have the money to shell out for a whole house filtration system. Nor would that make sense for me, since I’m renting. So the first small step I took was to get a pitcher filter from Clearly Filtered (and ditch my old one!). Want to know everything that is removed with the filter? Check out the lab test results here. You also get a copy of the most recent test and filtered contaminants when you order your pitcher!
The Clearly Filtered line removes more contaminants than Brita, PUR, and ZeroWater filters, combined.
Back to the thyroid and Hashimoto’s issues before – Clearly Filtered is one of the only filters that removes Fluoride and Chromium. Kiiind of a big deal. This is why so many people who have been diagnosed with thyroid issues choose Clearly Filtered over other brands.
The interesting thing, though? You won’t find Clearly Filtered in the EWG’s database that I mentioned before. Why? The EWG only lists NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified products in their database, which CF is currently working towards obtaining. And I spoke to the folks at CF – apparently, the NSF doesn’t even test for half the stuff Clearly Filtered does!
It’s like how some small, local farmers don’t have the USDA Organic certification, even though they don’t use any non-organic chemicals or pesticides on their crops (despite the fact that their produce is totally amazing and delicious). Both the farmers and Clearly Filtered are working towards getting that certification, they’re just not there yet.
Rest assured though, the good news is CF uses a 3rd party lab that is EPA-approved (Envirotek Lab in New Jersey) to test their filters to NSF standards, so that their data is the same (and better) as other filters who are approved through the NSF directly. You can find more information about all the contaminants that CF tests for and filters out on this page!
So the real question: how does it taste? Crisp. Clean (for lack of a better word, ha!), and not overly fake like a lot of bottled waters do – you know the ones I’m talking about, that clearly add in things to make them taste more pure. It’s puppy-approved too.
One big thing I noticed is that the Clearly Filtered pitcher takes a lot longer to filter than my old bestie (about 20-25 mins). Which was annoying at first, until I realized – DUH. It takes longer because the water is in contact with the triple-stage filter for longer, meaning it is removing more contaminants. So I am more than okay with that.
Plus, the life expectancy of the filter is way longer than my last one. We’re talking 40 gallons between filter changes vs. 100 gallons between filter changes.
So, is it worth it? One thousand percent.
The Clearly Filtered pitcher (which is what I have) is $60. Compare that to the Brita, which will run you about $25-30…but the Clearly Filtered one is getting out 215 more chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, prescription medications, hormones, and general grossness than the Brita. Plus, it lasts twice as long. And in my opinion, tastes a lot better. So I’d say that’s a worthwhile investment in your health, to remove all those chemicals and contaminants, rather than to just reduce about five of them, wouldn’t you?
What other questions do you guys have about filtering your water, and this Clearly Filtered review? Let me know in the comments!
This post is sponsored by my friends at Clearly Filtered! I was compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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