What happens to your body when you drink unfiltered water? The answer is your body has to filter the water itself. Your liver tries to break down toxins into more manageable substances, but if it gets overwhelmed it has to store toxins in fat reserves. Your kidneys filter toxins out of the bloodstream to dump them as urine. Other toxins are dumped in bile, which your intestines filter. However, all these organs fail to deal with heavy metals. Lead, mercury, copper, and iron will devastate your body’s filtration mechanisms and destroy your health. Don’t risk it—let an RO system from Angel Water do the filtration instead.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the dangers of contaminated drinking water, with water supplies across the nation bearing unsafe levels of lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. A water filtration system can filter out the toxins, removing the danger, but what if you don’t have one? What happens? Are you alright as long as you feel fine? Do the toxins just make you feel sick on the way through and then pass on by?
The truth is that, in the absence of a water filter, your body itself acts as the filter. Much in the same way a filter pulls all of the toxins out of water passing through it and holds onto them, your body pulls toxins out of the water you drink and stores them away, where they accumulate over time until they start causing health problems.
Read on for a breakdown of the ways that your bodily organs function as filters for the toxins you ingest in your drinking water.
The liver is your primary organ for filtering out harmful chemicals and detoxifying your body. As toxins flow through your bloodstream and into your liver, the liver deals with them in two phases.
The first phase consists of the liver taking these compounds and altering their chemical makeup. Sometimes the resulting products are less toxic, and sometimes they are more toxic, but the real purpose is to convert the toxins into a substance that can more easily be bound and transported to the kidneys, intestines, or skin, where they are removed—this is the second phase.
However, sometimes the liver gets overwhelmed with too many toxins, or isn’t functioning as well due to being worn out or gummed up by chronic exposure. Other times, the adrenal glands, which regulate a lot of the liver’s functions, direct it to perform other tasks, such as breaking glycogen into glucose to raise blood sugar during a stressful event.
Whatever the case may be, in times like this the liver takes all of the excess toxins which it can’t process and stores them in your body fat. As long as the liver is impaired, the toxins stay in these fat reserves, which your body resists you shedding to prevent toxins from overrunning your system.
Thus, regularly ingesting too high a concentration of toxins, by overwhelming your liver, can cause your body to store these toxins for prolonged periods of time in hard-to-get-rid-of reserves of body fat.
The Kidneys and Intestines
Once the liver has altered toxins as part of the detoxification process, it sends them to be removed from the body, most typically by either the kidneys or the intestines.
The kidneys’ function is to filter wastes and toxic chemicals out of the bloodstream and remove it in the form of urine.
Alternatively, toxins are dumped by the liver into bile, which is sent to the intestines. Here, the intestinal mucous membranes, while healthy, act as “intelligent” filters, leaving nutrients to penetrate into the bloodstream and head to the rest of the body, but absorbing toxins meant to be excreted.
Both of these organs play important roles in filtering out toxins and expelling them from your body so that they don’t do damage. But both also can only do so much, and constant or excessive exposure to toxins can impair their ability to function properly.
But despite all of these highly effective organs carrying out processes to filter out, detoxify, and eliminate toxins, heavy metals can throw a wrench into the entire operation.
Heavy metals include lead, mercury, copper, and iron, and are commonly found in all water supplies. It is lead and copper that leaches into drinking water from the pipes that carry it, and mercury that coal-fired power plants drop into water sources like Lake Michigan in the form of coal ash. They also happen to be some of the most dangerous toxins around.
To begin with, heavy metals can cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a serious liver disease where rapidly-dying liver cells trigger an inflammatory response and replaced with fat cells. NAFLD can lead to liver fibrosis, and the severe damage to the liver will heavily impair its ability to filter and dispose of other toxins.
Why doesn’t the liver just break down the heavy metals, then? Well, heavy metals are elements—matter in its purest form, just groups of unbonded atoms. To break an atom down would require nuclear fission, and you likely don’t have a nuclear reactor in your body.
Instead, your body has to try to combine heavy metals with other elements in an effort to create relatively inert compounds, which can then be transported either to the kidneys and discarded through urine, or to the intestines to be discarded through feces. However, overloads and regular presence of heavy metals in the liver lead to NAFLD, and anyway this process doesn’t rid the body of all heavy metals, as each one comes in various forms that can or can’t be processed in different ways.
For example, this recombination and secretion process typically only rids the body of 80% of lead intake. Of the remaining 20% that is absorbed, in adults, 94% is stored in bones and teeth. Here a portion of it will stay only for a few weeks before it has steadily back out into the bloodstream to be flushed out, but a small fraction of it can stay in the bones for decades, remaining inert and mobilizing out into the body again only in times such as pregnancy, lactation, old age, and broken bones. This miniscule amount may seem inconsequential, but there is no safe amount of lead; a blood lead level of 45 micrograms per deciliter of blood causes gastrointestinal symptoms in adults, while research has shown that even a single microgram per deciliter increase has an adverse affect on test scores in children. Having any amount sitting in your bones for decades waiting to be released is dangerous.
Mercury, copper, and other heavy metals in your drinking water similarly have mechanisms that allow certain types, like methyl mercury, to bypass detoxification, spread throughout the body, and bio-accumulate in your tissues.
With all of the risks involved, why use your own body as a water filter? Buying a water filtration system for your home is far and away the safer, healthier, and wiser avenue. If you’re considering a water filter system, or want your water tested for heavy metals and other toxins, give us at Angel Water, Inc. in Barrington a call at (847) 382-7800, or contact us online for a free consultation.
“No filter” is an admirable philosophy for Instagram photography, but not an admirable way to consume your water. You should be protecting your health—and we’re here to help.