raw water
Think twice before hopping on this health trend (Image via Shutterstock)
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raw water
Think twice before hopping on this health trend (Image via Shutterstock)

This ‘healthy’ trend might actually be worse for you than biting into Tide Pods.

2018 has kicked off to a strange start. Dangerous and outlandish dietary trends are seemingly at the forefront of cutting-edge fashion. Likely the most bizarre trend, high school kids began biting into Tide Pods in search of YouTube fame, several of them suffering serious medical problems as a result. But a newer, elitist and potentially more dangerous trend emerged this year among the health conscious and conspiracy theory communities. The so-called “woke” subset of society gleefully began shelling out big bucks to procure bottles of what’s referred to as “raw water.”

Mukhande Singh, the founder of the startup “Live Water” in Los Angeles, CA, began selling raw water about three years ago as a “healthier” alternative to dangerous, chemical filled tap water. Since then, the business has spread to several states.

Raw water is simply untreated, unfiltered water, extracted from a natural spring or from the soil. Singh touts the benefits of drinking unfiltered spring water on his site, claiming raw water contains good bacteria that promotes healthy gut flora. Live Water advocates also suggest that the Earth itself filters the water naturally.

According to them, there is no need to chemically treat water from a spring. These nonsensical claims meet with fearmongering campaigns over municipal tap water and the process by which it’s filtered.

Raw water is, essentially, just unfiltered water being bottled and sold (Image via Flickr)

Skepticism over chemical additives to drinking water began to run rampant in conspiracy theory circles years back. Particularly, concerns about fluoridation of the water systems in the U.S. became prevalent in these groups.

You’ll find pseudoscientific claims about the chemical’s link to neurological damage and decreased IQ floating around the hidden corners of the internet. These claims are completely fabricated, and there is no evidence whatsoever that fluoride is harmful.

Yet, the claims about fluoride’s toxicity, made by many popular YouTubers and documentary filmmakers, are convincing to many. This is what makes them so dangerous.

While it may seem obvious to many, advocates of raw water do not seem to understand the negative side effects of drinking unfiltered and untreated water. Some raw water enthusiasts have made preposterous claims touting its healing components. Some have even claimed it help them lose weight. But drinking raw water can leave human beings vulnerable to many diseases.

Illnesses like cholera, typhoid and dysentery have been all but done away with, thanks to modern water filtration systems. However, advocates of raw water open themselves up to all these diseases.

The fact is that, even if a person were to extract the water from a source untouched by human pollutants, the water still may be contaminated with animal dung. It can easily make you sick. Despite the fact that fluoride has yet to make anyone sick, raw water believers are still more concerned with drinking it than animal feces.

This smear campaign of the FDA and the EPA’s role in regulating our dietary intake has led this same lot of dissidents to avoid vaccinating their children and to drink raw, unpasteurized milk. Claims about high mercury levels in vaccines and their connection to autism have been largely debunked. Raw milk has been proven unsafe and, as a result, been banned in most states.

Conspiracy theorists are to blame for the fearmongering of filtered water (Image via Unsplash)

The problem with government regulation on products like raw milk and raw water is that the people who believe in the healing properties of these products do not trust the government. This is not as simple as telling teens not to eat laundry detergent. These people believe the government is looking to suppress them through dangerous additives.

As a result, raw milk is still sold on the black market in several states, despite its contaminants and tendency to cause diphtheria. People are still refusing to vaccinate their children, and opening them up to all kinds of horrible illnesses like mumps and rubella. Raw water is just the latest trend of many based on misinformation.

This is when fake news becomes more than just obnoxious, it actually does cause harm. Conspiracy nuts, like Alex Jones, have been demonizing tap water, specifically fluoride, for almost a decade. The raw water movement is the inevitable result of their attacks on municipal water. When someone does develop cholera, who should be held to blame?

This conspiratorial nonsense also hinders the very real conversation we need to be having about contamination in the water supply. Cities like Flint, Michigan and Baltimore have reported finding high levels of lead in their water supply which has caused a serious public health issue in those communities.

Not only that, but reports state that there are trace amounts of lead in the water in as many as 33 American cities. This is a real issue that needs attention. The “woke” community, however, is still focused on fluoride, and this raw water trend is merely a distraction from the real issues.

The fact is, water fluoridation has been one of the most beneficial components of society’s dental health in the modern age. Scientists discovered some time ago that our indigenous ancestors, who ingested the most fish containing fluoride (yes fluoride is found naturally in fish among other things), had superior dental health.

Fluoride is the most commonly found element on the planet and is healthy when ingested in small amounts. But facts simply don’t penetrate these people’s beliefs. They really believe they are being lied to and controlled by the government.

It is also important to note the high price tag on raw water. Two and a half gallons of unfiltered spring water is selling for as much as $60 on Singh’s Live Water website. This makes the trend dubiously elitist in addition to harmful.

Why are the most educated and affluent among us willing to pay for water that or may not contain pollutants and animal feces? Because of the decade-long misinformation campaign against water fluoridation and the EPA.

It’s time to address the zeitgeist of fake news on the web before someone falls ill or dies. In the meantime, those of us who know better can get a good chuckle out of the lunacy that is the raw water movement.

Writer Profile

Tabitha Prisinzano

Columbia College of Missouri
English Literature

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