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  • Your RO system may be making you sick

    We all know that we're supposed to drink lots of water. I installed an RO system so that I would always have a supply of high quality water to be well hydrated. I found the opposite to be true. I never felt well hydrated. The more I drank, the worse I felt. But why does spring water do such a great job of hydrating me? At first I thought it was just coincidence and there must be something else. But I have noticed the same pattern repeating over years so I started to reconsider. This study makes total sense. RO water has no chlorine so it is a prime spot for bacteria. Seems pretty obvious. I even brought this up with the vendor when I purchased the system. He assured me that the only problem would be stagnant water in the toilet tank and to put some bleach in there periodically.

    Not so fast.

    What happens when you go on vacation for 2 weeks? Stagnant dechlorinated water in the RO tank, chambers, lines, and the filter itself will grow bacteria. In fact, carbon is an ideal breading ground for bacteria. You start feeling bad and don't know why. The last thing you would suspect is the RO water. After all, it was an investment in your health.

    It's even worse if you have a whole house dechlorinating filter. Because all the pipes stand to grow bacteria. Of course, you could flush the RO system and pipes with a disinfectant periodically. But who do you know that does that? I was never advised by the vendor and the owner's manuals say nothing about it.

    The more I think it through the more problematic it is to dechlorinate water at any point other than the point of use. When was the last time you flushed your refrigerator water line? It's just a matter of time until bacteria or a bug makes it's way inside there. You take all the time and effort to clean the water, then contaminate it immediately prior to drinking it. No thanks. You'd be better off with (safe) tap water or preferably spring water, a shower head filter, and chlorine in all the pipes.

  • #2
    Make sense...we went for 1 month from the house
    and I got stomach troubles as soon as we returned back
    and water seems to be the cause.
    I am about to purchase water test to check on my RO system.
    www.MiracleofWalk.com

    Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary
    to what we know about nature
    Saint Augustine

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    • #3
      You really shouldn't be drinking any more than about 2 liters of water per day. Any more than that you are putting an extraordinary load on your kidneys. And possibly setting yourself up for hyponatremia, just trust me I've been there, in ICU for 6 days with a blood sodium level of 106...that my friends is near death.

      Most metropolitan water systems deliver adequately safe water to drink. If you think you need more protection you only need to install a carbon filtration and a ceramic filtration system that uses media with a small pore size to filter out everything from sediment, to bacteria, to lead out of your drinking water. Ceramic water filters work by simply allowing the water to seep through tens of millions of pores in the water cartridge surface.
      Last edited by gjnl; 09-11-2017, 10:51 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by gjnl View Post
        You really shouldn't be drinking any more than about 2 liters of water per day. Any more than that you are putting an extraordinary load on your kidneys.

        Most metropolitan water systems deliver adequately safe water to drink. If you think you need more protection you only need to install a carbon filtration and a ceramic filtration system that uses media with a small pore size to filter out everything from sediment, to bacteria, to lead out of your drinking water. Ceramic water filters work by simply allowing the water to seep through tens of millions of pores in the water cartridge surface.
        The problem with municipal water is that even if the quality is adequate at the plant, the delivery system may use 100 year old pipes, which introduces an unknown factor. Then there is taste and pharmaceutical content. People flush their meds that are too fine for the water treatment plant to filter. Hence, we all end up taking micro doses of our neighbor's meds.

        Spring water is the best bet. Tap water filtered as you mention may be a decent alternative. Having said that, if you have a health issue where you have to reduce TDS (total dissolved solids) as much as possible, then distilled water and/or RO is the way to go. You just need to know how to maintain an RO system, which is something that I learned the hard way.

        By the way, zero TDS count means zero minerals. I understand that you should rely on getting minerals from food not water. But zero minerals may result in water leaching minerals from your body. That may be the reason why I never feel hydrated from RO water and drinking more makes me feel worse. I don't over do it. Or it could be bacteria. There are other quasi-science reasons offered, like the RO membrane alters the structure of the water molecules, which renders the water less readily absorbed by our cells. Whatever it is, I sense a problem with RO water. The potential for bacteria enabling illness is the icing on the cake making RO water the perfect storm.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gjnl View Post
          You really shouldn't be drinking any more than about 2 liters of water per day. Any more than that you are putting an extraordinary load on your kidneys. And possibly setting yourself up for hyponatremia, just trust me I've been there, in ICU for 6 days with a blood sodium level of 106...that my friends is near death.

          Most metropolitan water systems deliver adequately safe water to drink. If you think you need more protection you only need to install a carbon filtration and a ceramic filtration system that uses media with a small pore size to filter out everything from sediment, to bacteria, to lead out of your drinking water. Ceramic water filters work by simply allowing the water to seep through tens of millions of pores in the water cartridge surface.

          2 liters of liquid water is about twice as much as is good. The study often cited for the "2 liters" goes on to say half of that comes from an adequate solid food diet.
          "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

          "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Oddity View Post
            2 liters of liquid water is about twice as much as is good. The study often cited for the "2 liters" goes on to say half of that comes from an adequate solid food diet.
            2 liters, if not a lot more...a gallon, of water is an often stated amount that people on this forum drink per day. I agree with you 1 liter is probably enough, if you are getting adequate liquid from your regular diet. In fact, my nephrologist has me on 1 liter of water plus dietary liquid. When I was recovering from hyponatermia, she restricted me to 1 liter period, including dietary sources.

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            • #7
              I have no clue about RO and it's potential impact so will leave this one up to those who know or use it.

              ckf
              The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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              • #8
                And just in case someone is wondering what RO is...Reverse Osmosis

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                • #9
                  Drinking 1 liter may be adequate. But drinking 2 liters isn't bad. The amount of water you'd have to force before getting adverse reactions is ridiculously high.

                  Drinking 1 liter of water in the morning well before breakfast makes me feel great, unless it is RO water. RO water makes me feel toxic even is smaller quantities, like the feeling you get when you are coming down with something. Hence, I don't think it's the volume. I think it's the type of water and it's potential for problems like bacteria content and mineral leaching.
                  Last edited by August West; 09-12-2017, 03:32 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I also notice an increase in muscle spasms with RO water, which is consistent with bacteria content and mineral leaching. Drinking spring water is like taking a muscle relaxer, at least for me.

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                    • #11
                      You'd be surprised how easily electrolytes can go out of balance with or without extenuating circumstances. I'm one of those individuals who runs on the low side of the normal range for the sodium test. Normal range is 135-145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Do any of you know what your blood sodium level is? You should know before you drink enormous quantities of water.

                      One December, I came down with a cold or flu. I just wanted to sleep. I didn't really feel like eating, so I didn't, even with a lot of gentle nagging by NL. When we are ill with flu or cold, we are always told to stay hydrated. So, every couple of hours, I obliged NL by drinking a glass of water. Perfect storm...not eating (not ingesting enough sodium), lower blood sodium level anyway, drinking a lot of water and after 3 days, I was acting stranger than is normal for even me. New Years eve, NL packed me into the car and took me to the emergency unit of our local hospital. I got through the registration and admissions process, got onto a hospital bed and was, in the blink of an eye, in full hyponatremic (sometimes called water intoxication) crisis. My blood sodium was 106 (mEq/L). All the other electrolytes were wonky too. I was in a babbling coma for 17 hours, no one knew if I would live, die, would have brain damage, or be in a permanent coma. Seven days later, I was released from the Intensive Care Unit, on a strict fluid intake restriction and taking sodium tablets and had to get blood tests and check in with my nephrologist every week for a couple months.

                      Yes there were extenuating circumstances in my case, but some extenuating circumstance of one kind or another is all it takes to upset the balance of electrolytes we all take for granted. I had this discussion with my nephrologist about how those of us with spinal cord injury are told to drink, drink, drink to flush the kidneys and bladder. She has just sat there, shaking her head. She says large quantities of water put an extraordinary burden on your kidneys and can actually cause kidney disease.

                      Every one of us should know our blood sodium level, along with the balance of other electrolytes and we should have yearly tests, or more often if you have a kidney or sodium problem, to monitor what is going on with our blood chemistry.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gjnl View Post
                        You'd be surprised how easily electrolytes can go out of balance with or without extenuating circumstances. I'm one of those individuals who runs on the low side of the normal range for the sodium test. Normal range is 135-145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Do any of you know what your blood sodium level is? You should know before you drink enormous quantities of water.

                        One December, I came down with a cold or flu. I just wanted to sleep. I didn't really feel like eating, so I didn't, even with a lot of gentle nagging by NL. When we are ill with flu or cold, we are always told to stay hydrated. So, every couple of hours, I obliged NL by drinking a glass of water. Perfect storm...not eating (not ingesting enough sodium), lower blood sodium level anyway, drinking a lot of water and after 3 days, I was acting stranger than is normal for even me. New Years eve, NL packed me into the car and took me to the emergency unit of our local hospital. I got through the registration and admissions process, got onto a hospital bed and was, in the blink of an eye, in full hyponatremic (sometimes called water intoxication) crisis. My blood sodium was 106 (mEq/L). All the other electrolytes were wonky too. I was in a babbling coma for 17 hours, no one knew if I would live, die, would have brain damage, or be in a permanent coma. Seven days later, I was released from the Intensive Care Unit, on a strict fluid intake restriction and taking sodium tablets and had to get blood tests and check in with my nephrologist every week for a couple months.

                        Yes there were extenuating circumstances in my case, but some extenuating circumstance of one kind or another is all it takes to upset the balance of electrolytes we all take for granted. I had this discussion with my nephrologist about how those of us with spinal cord injury are told to drink, drink, drink to flush the kidneys and bladder. She has just sat there, shaking her head. She says large quantities of water put an extraordinary burden on your kidneys and can actually cause kidney disease.

                        Every one of us should know our blood sodium level, along with the balance of other electrolytes and we should have yearly tests, or more often if you have a kidney or sodium problem, to monitor what is going on with our blood chemistry.
                        I totally agree. Drinking more is not necessarily better. It can make you toxic. The question is, what is an enormous quantity? For me, 1 liter in the morning is a good start. After all, that's only 2 large glasses. Then drinking more as needed through the day may bring me to 1.5 - 2 liters. Is that too much? Every time I've had blood work done the only issue has been borderline cholesterol. Everything else is either inside the normal range or better. Hence, while I don't know exactly what my blood sodium level is, it must be fine.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by August West View Post
                          I totally agree. Drinking more is not necessarily better. It can make you toxic. The question is, what is an enormous quantity? For me, 1 liter in the morning is a good start. After all, that's only 2 large glasses. Then drinking more as needed through the day may bring me to 1.5 - 2 liters. Is that too much? Every time I've had blood work done the only issue has been borderline cholesterol. Everything else is either inside the normal range or better. Hence, while I don't know exactly what my blood sodium level is, it must be fine. Unless it isn't and you just don't, as you say, really know.
                          Sometimes I feel like I am writing this stuff just to write it, does anyone really read! The point I am trying to make, I guess without success, is that you need know what your blood sodium level is, what your electrolyte balance is by having blood tests at least once a year. A full metabolic blood panel is going to give you all of this information about blood sodium and the other electrolytes. And why does someone with a spinal cord injury really need to drink more water than the average AB (able bodied) person? We incessantly hear this flush...flush...flush garbage. Flushing the kidneys only puts the kidneys under an incredible burden. And you can't ignore that you, for whatever reason, may experience an electrolyte imbalance that could be deadly. There is a fluid intake from food to add to the mix of the fluids you drink. Fluid intake plus food sources should not probably exceed 3 liters for anyone and that is on the high side. I'd bet that most ABs don't consume half that much, probably much less. And an AB is going to be more active, using more body and muscle mass than any spinal cord injured.
                          Last edited by gjnl; 09-12-2017, 10:11 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gjnl View Post
                            Sometimes I feel like I am writing this stuff just to write it, does anyone really read! The point I am trying to make, I guess without success, is that you need know what your blood sodium level is, what your electrolyte balance is by having blood tests at least once a year. A full metabolic blood panel is going to give you all of this information about blood sodium and the other electrolytes. And why does someone with a spinal cord injury really need to drink more water than the average AB (able bodied) person? We incessantly hear this flush...flush...flush garbage. Flushing the kidneys only puts the kidneys under an incredible burden. And you can't ignore that you, for whatever reason, may experience an electrolyte imbalance that could be deadly. There is a fluid intake from food to add to the mix of the fluids you drink. Fluid intake plus food sources should not probably exceed 3 liters for anyone and that is on the high side. I'd bet that most ABs don't consume half that much, probably much less. And an AB is going to be more active, using more body and muscle mass than any spinal cord injured.
                            We are in agreement. I read what you wrote and acknowledged it. Did you miss this part I wrote? -> "Every time I've had blood work done... [sodium] is either inside the normal range or better."

                            Regardless, there is no hard and fast number. Water intake requirements will vary from person to person, activity, and environment. The rule of thumb is if you're thirsty, you're dehydrated. Doesn't make sense to wait until you're thirsty then drink water. It makes sense to stay ahead of the thirst. Of course, you don't want to go overboard. This isn't complicated as you're making it out to be.

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                            • #15
                              [QUOTE=August West;1839868]Did you miss this part I wrote? -> "Every time I've had blood work done... [sodium] is either inside the normal range or better."

                              Yes, I read that, and I'm puzzled by your interpretation of your results. Either you are inside the normal ranges or your outside normal ranges. If you are "better," you are outside the normal range (higher than normal range - not good) and if you are higher than just a nominal value, that should be concerning for those tests. In other words, you can't have better results for blood tests than the normal range.

                              As for water consumption, yes it is going to depend on the person to some degree. But none of us should be drinking 3-4 liters of water or more in additional to liquids obtained from foods. That isn't complicated.

                              Last edited by gjnl; 09-13-2017, 01:03 PM.

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