Could Your Water Source Be Harming Your Crohn’s or Colitis?


It’s something we all take for granted. In the United States and in most countries, we turn on the facet in our home and we’ve got fresh, clean, pure, hydration right at our fingertips, right?

Actually, it turns out this isn’t always the case.

Often times our tap water and even our bottled water can be filled with odorless, tasteless contaminants, irritants, hormone disruptors, gut disruptors—all invisible. We don’t see it. We don’t taste the problem so we keep drinking, thinking we are doing our body good.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing the challenges with most tap water and even many of the most common water filtration systems, ones you might even have in your home right now. And I’ll be sharing with you how you can make one small water change to positively impact your life.

For your IBD health, for you kids health, this is an important episode to check out.

Four Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 Two key factors that determine if your water is gut healthy and whole body healthy.

🌿 The best water check resource to see where your tap water stacks up.

🌿 Why reverse osmosis may not be all it’s hyped up to be (and don’t get me started on the filtered water that comes from your refrigerator).

🌿  The best water filtration system on the market today.

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in the Episode:

Your FREE Water Quality Resource Guide Cheat Sheet

EWGs Tap Water Database (how safe is your tap water?)

Consumer Reports: Find Out What’s in Your Bottled Water

The Berkey Water Filter

Episode Resources:

Is Water the Forgotten Nutrient?

Drinking Water Contaminants

Distilled Water

Can you Drink Distilled Water?

Purified Water vs Spring Water

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You?

The Dangers of Refrigerator Water Filters

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline Water: Beneficial or All Hype?

What is Ionized Water?

Berkey Water Filtration Process

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Could Your Water Source Be Harming Your Crohn’s or Colitis?

Water. It’s something we all take for granted. In the United States and in most countries, we turn on the facet in our home and we’ve got fresh, clean, pure, hydration right at our fingertips, right? Actually, it turns out this isn’t always the case. Often times our tap water and even our bottled water can be filled with odorless, tasteless contaminants, irritants, hormone disruptors, gut disruptors—all invisible. We don’t see it. We don’t taste the problem so we keep drinking, thinking we are doing our body good.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing the challenges with most tap water and even many of the most common water filtration systems, ones you might even have in your home right now. And I’ll be sharing with you how you can make one small water change to positively impact your life. For your IBD health, for you kids health, this is an important episode to check out.

Let’s dive in.


Hello my friend, welcome to The Cheeky Podcast. It’s great to be with you again. Summer is flying by as it always does. The weather is hot, hot, hot, and we are all reaching for some water to stay hydrated. I thought that it was the perfect time, when we’re all drinking more water, for us to have a candid, open conversation about what’s really in your drinking water and what you can do to make sure you have the best water source at your fingertips, in summer especially, but all year long.

So, most of the time when we talk about water, we talk about how much water you should be consuming. What’s a healthy amount and how can you make sure you get it in throughout the day. But before we even get to that conversation, before we talk about how much water to consume, we need to address an even bigger question. And that question is: What’s the best water source for you? Because without good, clean, quality water, you can drink and drink and end up doing more harm than good.

Clean, pure water is important for everyone, but like many things, when it comes to Crohn’s and colitis, we need to be especially careful about the water we consume because of the challenges of our compromised intestinal system. Research by the American Gut Project shows that the source you pick for your water is a key factor in the variation of gut bacteria in your microbiome. The simple act of picking the right source can make a big difference in diversifying your bacteria, the bacteria in your gut, for better digestive health—and frankly, better health overall.


We’ve talked up and down, this way and that, endlessly about how food impacts our gut health on this podcast, but what about water? The problem of not talking about where our water is sourced from starts at the very top. I mean way at the top, at the institution level, the government level. Was water part of the food pyramid of our youth? Remember the food pyramid we learned about in health class? No, it wasn’t. Is water a part of the latest dietary guidelines in the My Plate chart. Nope. And this omission is causing many scientists to classify water as the “forgotten nutrient.”

Our government and national healthcare agencies may not be talking about the importance of your water source, but the research is clear, the water source you choose will positively or negatively impact your microbiome. In an recent study, participants who drank well-water had higher microbiome diversity in their stool—over tap water, bottle water, or even filtered water.

Of course we don’t all have access to well-water, let alone good quality well-water and if you’re like me, you can have well-water and still struggle if it’s not potable or drinkable. You should see the number of filters our water has to go through, just to pass inspection. That cannot be good for our family’s health.

So, if you don’t have access to well-water or you’re well-water is less than desirable, what can you do to make sure you are using the highest quality filtration system to get the best benefit for your gut health and your overall health as well? There’s so many choices out there… spring, distilled, mineral, reverse osmosis, ionized water…

What’s the best water for our sensitive bellies, the one that will give us a healthier microbiome, more diverse bacteria, and aid us as we combine all the other gut healing modalities we’re using to combat our Crohn’s and colitis. And if you’re anything like me, you want to keep this water decision, easy peasy. You spread enough time on food, supplements, medications, lifestyle factors. Your water source needs to be an easy decision, and an easy set up.

Let’s see if we can simplify all your water choices. I’m going to tell you the absolute best water source for you, for your endocrine system (your hormones), your metabolism, your connective tissue, and of course your digestive system.

On the way there, we’ll evaluate your current water sources—ones you might be using right now, so you can see which ones make the grade and which ones might just have to go. For each of the options, there’s two specific goals we have to keep in mind when it comes to water: purity and mineral content. Water, in many cases can be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisims—heavy metals, pesticides, and endocrine and gut disrupting chemicals. We need to demand water that’s as pure as possible for our own health, and also for the health of our kiddos.

And minerals—why do we want minerals in our water? Well, our whole body can benefit from maintaining minerals in our water sources. Especially in America, we are mineral deficient, we’re afraid of salt, we don’t eat enough mineral rich sea vegetables, but our digestive system and our other organs benefit from minerals. Minerals found in quality water sources like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. High quality water sources include minerals and we don’t want a water source that excludes these vital nutrients.

Just to recap before we move on, quality water is about #1 purity (no contaminants that can disrupt your microbiome and in turn your Crohn’s and colitis) AND #2 the presence of trace minerals that positively impact not only your digestive system, but also your endocrine system, metabolism, neurological pathways and the connective tissues in your body.


If you want to get the full picture on water quality—broken down in a one-page format, that gives you the load down on all the filtration methods (the pros and the cons)—what we are talking about today, but in a handy dandy condense version, I have a one-page cheat sheet I’ve created just for you, You can go to It’s my Water Quality one-page PDF and it will give you all the deets you need to get the best water filtration system for your home.

So, yes, I’ve got the cliff notes version all ready for you to grab, but if this has really been a question in your mind, if you want to make the best decision with your whole family’s health in mind, want to have what you need to make the most informed decision, stick around because I’m about to give you the full scoop on choosing the best water source for your home.


OK let’s start with our most common source of water, the water that comes straight from our facet at home, tap water. Remember, we are looking for purity and minerals. So how does tap water stack up? Well, the good news is that tap water has the potential to be full of healthy minerals. Nothing has been filtered out so the minerals that are in the water are there to benefit you.

The problem with tap water though is in it’s purity rating. Many tap water sources contain microorganisms like E. coli, giardia, noroviruses, inorganic chemicals like arsenic, nitrates, lead. And organic compounds that are hard to pronounce like glyphosate and tetrachloroethylene.

Of course, in America, our tap water is regulated by the FDA and the EPA. They wouldn’t allow any of the crap in our water, would they? Unfortunately, there are levels of these known contaminants that are considered safe and allowed by the FDA. Plus there have been several case studies, news reports (I’m sure you’ve heard about them), where contaminants in tap water have reached concerning levels. Let’s take lead for example, a known toxic substance. That’s one that I’m sure you’ve heard about as being of concern in certain cases.– in the home where you deserve safe drinking water. This is especially challenging in children as they are still developing but also concerning for those with immune disruptions as well. People like us.

Other contaminants that have been known to seep into tap water include fertilizer, livestock manure, human sewage. Also, some tap water contains nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, parasites, and bacteria. Now, of course these are extreme cases and these may not be substances that are in your tap water. Let’s hope not.

If you are wondering about your tap water right now, for my folks in America, you can get all the information you need through the EWG’s website. That’s the Environmental Working Group. The watchdog company for all things food, environment, and health related. They have a tap water database and you can type in your zip code to see how the water coming out of your faucet stacks up.

I put in my zip code in as prep for this episode and was surprised to find a total of 12 contaminants in my tap water. Seven of them exceed the EWG’s health guidelines. Yikes! This is in my own tap water that I’ve had tested and is supposed to be safe. Thank goodness I have a water filter I trust. I don’t want to expose my kids to that. You might want to check out your own water purity if you use tap water in your home. I’ll leave a link in the show notes to the EWG’s tap water database so that you can type in your own ZIP Code and find out what’s going on with the water in your area. The show notes can be reached at /99. The link will be there.

Now, many of us are aware of the pitfalls of tap water because we hear about it all the time, this is the reason why the bottled water industry has boomed into such a powerhouse. Filtered water, distilled water, mineral water… All the things that make our water pure and clean… supposedly. But how are these methods really stacking up? Let’s find out.


So first we’ve got distilled water. Distilled water is created when tap water is boiled into a vapor and then condensed back into a liquid. That sounds promising right with all that boiling it’s got to be really pure. And yes, indeed, it is really pure. No microorganisms to upset our G.I. tract. Problem is, it also purifies out so much of the minerals and salts that our digestive system benefits from. That’s definitely not a good thing.

And not only that, but distilled water also pulls in properties of anything it touches. So put that in a plastic bottle and guess what it’s leaching? Yeah, it’s leaching plastic and then you are drinking it so for the most part if you’re looking for a drinking water, I have to give distilled water a thumbs down. Yes it’s pure but it’s missing some vital nutrients that our body needs.


Now how about spring water? We all know about spring water and so many of us consume it when we drink bottled water. It comes from a spring so we’re thinking babbling brooks and nature and water that is in a peaceful environment. With all that goodness, it must be healthy.

First, let’s get on the same page with what exactly were talking about when we’re looking at spring water. Does Springwater actually come from babbling brooks? Well, spring water is ground water. It’s ground water that lives underground in an aquifer. It sits below the earth’s natural water table. Sounds good so far, but the problem here is that getting information on how a particular brand or product is made (about its purity and mineral content) is really tricky. The companies that make spring water aren’t required to give us this information, so we are left with variable purity ratings and variable mineral ratings.

That’s not to say that all spring water is bad, the problem is we really just don’t know. Some are probably good and some are lacking. Without any real transparency in the bottled water industry, the authenticity of the water source becomes really murky.

There is, potentially some good news on the spring water front though. If you’re like so many Americans and you have come to rely on a particular brand of spring water… maybe it’s Daissini or Fiji or Deer Park—my brother only drinks Deer Park and swears by it. He swears that if he drinks any other bottled water he hast to run to the bathroom. I definitely think there’s a psychological component going on there. What do you think? But there is a way to find out about the specific nutrient and purity information about a particular bottled water company.

Consumer Reports has a online spring water database where you can click on a particular brand of spring water and check out all of the nutrients and purity levels in that product. You may not be getting the full picture about your particular spring water, but at least it’s more than the information you’ll find on the bottle . I’ll leave a link for you to check out that website in the show notes as well.


Now I know there is some of you out there listening saying Karyn, I never drink my tap water and I definitely don’t drink bottled water. I know that the purity and the mineral content is very variable and I don’t want to drink out of plastic bottles. I know all of this so that’s why I have a reverse osmosis system in my house. Let’s talk about that filtration system for a moment because I know it’s really popular and several people have that type of system in their house.

Reverse osmosis, most of the time called RO, is a purification process that uses a semi- permeable membrane to filter out contaminants like sediment, chlorine and microorganisms. The good news about RO is that it’s great if you live in an area where the water is really contaminated because it’s definitely removing those contaminants. But, how much of the contaminants it’s actually removing really depends on your RO system because there’s a ton of variability in these systems.

Also we definitely need to talk about the mineral content with reverse osmosis. After having heard about the other options we’ve talked about so far in seeing how RO works with its purification process, you can probably guess that there’s a problem here. All that purification is also removing the good trace minerals that we need for better digestive health. Iron, magnesium, manganese, and so many more.

And there’s more when it comes to RO filtration systems. If you’re using an RO system in your home that connects to your water faucet and you use that water for all the cooking in your home, here’s where trouble can happen. This demineralized water removes the vitamins and minerals in the food as it’s cooked. That’s because water bonds to everything it comes in contact with so the nutrients from the food you’re cooking gets leeched into the water and then you throw all those nutrients away when you strain your food.

Even the WHO, the World Health Organization is concerned about RO filtration stating that, “It has a definite adverse influence of the animal and human organism.” Not a good look RO!

OK, so so far we’ve talked about tap water, lots of negatives with that one. We’ve covered spring water with so much variability you really just don’t know what you’re getting and we just covered the pros and cons of reverse osmosis. Some positives when it comes to purity, but lots of negatives with the removal of all those much needed trace minerals.


Let’s move on and talk about one of the filtration systems most of us have in our kitchen. That’s carbon filtration. This is really common if you have a refrigerator that has a water spout built in. These type of refrigerators usually use a carbon filter. The bottom line with carbon filtration is that they can be really variable in their effectiveness with both purity and minerals.

First of all, the good news, they remove contaminants that we can taste and smell, but other contaminants do remain. Secondly, some studies have shown bacteria like salmonella can still be present in carbon filtered water. And of course there’s the problem of changing the filter enough. How many of us remember to do that? And to make matters worse, the constant water formation on the surface of the spout encourages mold and yeast growth. So that yeast and mold is getting into your water glass and then into your body every time you take a sip.

I remember one time, a babysitter who was at our house taking care of the kids saying to me have you looked up inside your refrigerator water spout? There’s all kinds of mold growing in there. I was mortified and terrified of what we had been drinking for so long. I tried repeatedly to clean the area with bleach and get the mold away, but no matter how hard I tried, that mold was just not going anywhere so we stopped using the refrigerator water now we don’t have that refrigerator anymore, so good riddance.

The bottom line on carbon filtration is variable purity and variable minerals at best. Not the best water source for our health or our family’s health either.

Now, so far we’ve talked about water filtration systems that have the potential to be threatening to our health, let’s turn the page and talk about some possible options for us when it comes to healthy, pure, mineral rich drinking water. There’s two of them, and I would call these my honorable mentions when it comes to quality drinking water.


One option is alkaline water. You might’ve heard about an alkalizing diet, eating with less acidic foods, finding a better pH for your body, eating food that is more basic (as opposed to acidic) for your overall health. A healthy digestive system is the main focus for an alkaline diet because the predominant thought is that disease cannot survive in an alkaline state.

Just like alkalizing foods, water can be alkaline as well. Alkaline water boasts of higher mineral content like calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Right now it’s all the rage. But is it better? Well the jury is still out on that. I will say that alkaline water certainly has potential. One recent study actually found that alkaline water was better for bone health (largely due to the mineral content) and another study found that it did reduce acid reflux symptoms which isn’t surprising since it is less acidic. As aging women we all need to think about better bone health. And of course as women with Crohn’s and colitis, acid reflux is something we may deal with as well. So that’s promising.

All and all, I’d give alkaline water a halfway thumbs up for purity and a thumbs up for mineral content. Yes the studies I’ve read look good, but I just think we need to have this type of water filtration system out a little bit longer before we can definitively say it’s a go.


The second honorable mention it’s worth mentioning, is ionized water. The best news about ionized water is that you can be sure it contains minerals. The whole filtration process starts with electromagnetism that separates positive charged minerals and sets them off to one side from negative charged bicarbonate that gets separated off to another side. Ionized water can also be alkalized so now you are drinking water with a higher pH, meaning less acidic, more basic water and water that has been proven to have a high mineral content. That definitely is promising.


So I’d say alkaline water and ionized water definitely have benefits and are worth looking into for a pure and mineral rich drinking water that’s good for your whole body and your family’s health as well. But I have to say, that there is an even better option on the market today. Let me tell you about that option now. This is my favorite overall option when it comes to drinking water, it’s the system we’ve had in our house for the last seven or eight years. I’m a huge advocate of this type of water, but right now I am not an affiliate for the company. That may change in the future because I just can’t say enough about this filtration system, but as of right now I’m just telling you this out of my research and my experience with the product.

I’m talking about the Berkey filtration system. Is this a filtration product you’ve heard about before? It’s definitely gaining in popularity because it’s been reviewed by scientists and consumer groups alike. And everyone is raving about the quality of the water it produces.

Berkey filters work on a filtration system that uses gravity fed filtration. It’s high in purity and high in the mineral department. I really like that with the Berkey filtration system, that it doesn’t require anyone coming in your house and work on all of the pipes and change all of the inner workings of your tap water. It’s just a canister that sits on your kitchen counter and pound for pound it’s in definitely a cheaper option than many of the filtration systems on the market.

So I mentioned gravity fed filtration. How does all of this work? The Berkey water filtration system starts with microfiltration of your own tap water. So no special water needed. It gets rid of the microorganisms in your tap water. So we’re talking about a 99.9% of the arsenic and bacteria and chlorine. It’s also removing huge amounts of E. coli and fluoride, as well as glyphosate, heavy metals, etc… All those microorganisms that can have a negative impact on our digestive health.

Then, the Berkey filtration system ionizes the water. Just like the ionic process I mentioned earlier, it’s the same principle. Contaminants attract to contaminants and then get absorbed by the filter. Contaminants don’t get past the filter in into your drinking water.

Lastly in its filtration process, the Berkey purifies by removing submicron (that’s teeny tiny—if you want to be technical about it), viruses from the water. This is B Big because most water filters can’t accomplish this task without the use of toxic chemicals.

If you’ve seen a Berkey filters before, maybe on someone else’s counter or maybe on your own, you know what it looks like. It looks like one of those metal coffee urns with a spout on the bottom. You see them at events and in hotel lobbies. Do you know what I’m talking about? The Berkey company makes different sizes of this urn and the one that you get depends on your needs and the size of your family. Like I said earlier, pound for pound this is really an economical option. There is an upfront cost for the Berkey that may seem high to you, but when you think about the fact that the filters in the Berkey only get changed every two years, and I always change mine during the holidays because that’s when they have their super sales, in the long run it’s a much cheaper and definitely it’s a much healthier option than any we’ve talked about so far today.

The Berkey water filter, big thumbs up for purity, big thumbs up for mineral content. You won’t be disappointed with this water filtration system. Just make sure you get a size big enough for your needs because my family made the mistake of getting what’s called the Big Berkey and I think we probably could’ve used a size bigger. I use it for everything, for drinking water, for cooking water, for the pets water and I’m filling the water more often than I’d like. One day we are going to upgrade. But if you have a smaller family, I’m sure the Big Berkey would be the right size for you.

So that you have it. My favorite water filtration system the Berkey and the honorable mentions that almost measure up plus the methods you should absolutely think twice about before you make a long-term commitment. If you want more Berkey info, if you want to check this water filtration system out for yourself, I will leave some links for you in the show notes. Remember that if you want my recap, the cliff notes version of everything we talked about today, go to Everything you need to know about quality water in a one-page PDF version. And if you’re not in the market for a water filtration system today, you can keep that on hand for when you are.

OK my friend, how did that information land for you? What questions do you have about getting quality water in your life? Which system seems to fit best for you? You know my opinion, there are some honorable mentions out there but they just do not meet the quality standards of the Berkey water filter. I’d love to know your thoughts though. Come on over to the show notes at and let me know what you think.

Until we meet again I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!

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Distillers: Friend or Foe? | Crohn's disease says April 14, 2024

[…] answer is ‘research’. You may like to start with an excellent article entitled ‘Could your water source be harming your Crohn’s or colitis?‘ in which Karyn Haley explores in detail which type(s) of water may be helpful for people […]

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