Jill Reid | Kitchen Spirit

I’d always had a couple cases of bottled water on my weekly shopping list. I used bottled water for everything—cooking, coffee, tea, and of course, for drinking. And while I’d heard about the dangers of BPA, an industrial chemical called bisphenol-A often used to make plastic water bottles, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.

But that all changed a few years ago, after my husband began a specialized program of diet and exercise designed to increase his gains in the gym and improve his overall health.

After six months on the program, his doctor suggested a complete blood panel to get a better indication of his progress. The results were surprising. While his testosterone levels had increased, his estrogen levels were twice the normal range.

As his doctor wrote a prescription medication to bring it back into balance, he explained that elevated estrogen in men can cause insomnia, reduce the effectiveness of increased testosterone count, and most important, elevate the production of blood plasma proteins, raising the risk of blood clots and related heart risks.

For the sake of my husband’s health, his estrogen had to be lowered into a normal range.

But there was a problem we hadn’t anticipated. The drug prescribed by his doctor, (anastrozole) had side effects. Although rare, the medication can cause drug-induced insomnia—my husband called it brain-buzz—preventing him from getting more than two to three hours of sleep a night. After several weeks of walking around like a zombie, he decided to stop taking the pills and get some rest.

Over the next several months, we tried incorporating different foods into his diet that would supposedly lower his estrogen. But his follow-up blood work showed very little difference in his elevated estrogen levels.

It was around that time I began looking for an alternative to bottled water. Not only because of health concerns, but because I was tired of lugging the cases into the house and trying to figure out where to store them. Rather than deal with the hassle and expense of drilling a faucet hole in my kitchen granite for an under-counter  reverse osmosis (R-O) system, I decided to try a counter-top water filter. After doing some research, I chose the Aquasana Clean Water Machine* (see my review below), an electrically operated filtered pitcher system that requires no plumbing connection or special hookups. We began using it immediately.

The result?

Six months later, my husband’s next blood test showed his estrogen levels had returned to a normal range.

Was it because we stopped drinking bottled water? We’re sure of it. There were no other changes in his diet, vitamin supplements, or medications.

Since then, here’s what I’ve learned:

Plastic bottles can release BPA when they get hot. And they’re easily subjected to heat during transport from the bottling plant, in the trunk of your car, or in your garage—especially during the summer months. The problem? BPA can imitate estrogen in the human body. Some research has also shown exposure to BPA can have possible health effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. Although the FDA continues to deny any health risks from ingesting BPA leached from plastic food and beverage containers, the European Union and Canada have banned BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles. Additional medical research has also suggested the possibility of a link between BPA and increased blood pressure.

Even so-called non-BPA plastic can release something called bisphenol-S (or BPS for short). And you don’t want either one contaminating your drinking water.

I’d always thought bottled water was the healthier alternative, and yet, from my husband’s experience, I’ve learned the chemicals released from plastic bottles can have all kinds of negative effects on your health.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re drinking bottled water, look for an alternative. When shopping for a filtration unit, compare the test results from independent laboratories. If a manufacturer doesn’t include this information in their descriptions, there’s a reason, and you should eliminate those companies that don’t publish third party test results. Ideally, you want a filter to remove at least 95 percent (or more) of all dangerous contaminants.

Do the counter-top gravity-fed pitchers like Britta and PUR provide the same level of protection as an R-O system or pressure-pumped filter? From the comparisons I made, I chose the electrically-operated Aquasana unit because of the improved reduction of unwanted chemicals, lifespan and cost of replacement filters, and the fact that it’s ready to go right out of the box without any need for professional installation. However, any kind of filtration will help. Buy what works for you based on elimination of contaminants, convenience, and cost. And most important, leave the bottled water in the store, where it can’t harm you.

For more info about the Aquasana Clean Water Machine, you can go their website to check out the specs, Warranty info, and Performance Data Sheet. Be sure to read about their “Water For Life” program for replacement filters – 15% Discount and Free Shipping!

You can buy the Clean Water Machine from either Aquasana or Amazon. Just click on the photos and links below for details, availability, and prices:

And if you need filtered water “on-the-go” like me, here are some nifty Clean Water bottles. Compact and portable, they’re great for on the road, refills in the gym (staying hydrated is essential!), camping, and when traveling. There’s no excuse to buy or use unhealthy water. Choose to protect and nourish your body with clean, contaminant-free H2O!

For other Aquasana Clean Water Machine and BPA-free bottle options CLICK HERE

*Here’s a brief review of the Aquasana Clean Water Machine I use for water filtration. It’s available with either a 1-gallon dispenser that filters water on demand with the press of a button, or a 1 gallon pitcher that filters immediately (the pitcher accommodates 1-gallon, however, it filters as much as it holds so you end up with ½ gallon of clean water.) Both pitchers can be filled from the tap. The unit is noisy when operating, and it takes about 30 seconds to filter the ½ gallon of water in the pitcher. The sound isn’t deafening, just loud enough to compete with normal conversation. If you use the on-demand dispenser, the motor runs only as long as it takes to fill the glass or container you’re using.

The filters (sold in a two-pack) will last about a year and sell for around sixty dollars, although you can save 15% if you join the company’s “Water for Life” program and have the filters auto-shipped (free shipping) once a year.

I noticed an immediate improvement in taste and smell compared to tap water. (I live about 20 miles north of Tampa, and frankly, our water is terrible.) The original pitcher that came with the unit began showing a hairline crack after about six months of use. However, a call to Aquasana customer service resulted in the shipment of an immediate replacement in exchange for a five dollar shipping and handling fee. Since then, the pitcher has held up under normal use without cracking or leaking. After 18 months, I’m still using the unit and continue to recommend it.