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The Health Benefits of Copper and Zinc

The Health Benefits of Copper and Zinc

Copper and zinc are important metals that have a wide variety of uses. Copper is commonly used to make pennies and wires, and zinc is typically used to galvanize steel. However, did you know that your body is also in need of these elements? While the thought of having these metals absorbed by your body may seem strange, these elements are in fact essential and play vital roles in the different processes that happen inside your body.

In the post, we discuss the health benefits of copper and zinc, the way they are needed by the body, the functions of copper and zinc in the body, common sources of dietary copper and zinc, and the importance of ensuring that your intake of these minerals is balanced.

Copper   

Copper is a reddish-gold element. In the periodic table, it has an atomic number of 29 and an atomic weight of 63.54 grams per mole. At room temperature and in its pure form, copper is soft, malleable and can be stretched without breaking. Copper has a bright metallic sheen, but when exposed to moisture and weathering, it becomes coated with a dull green outer layer called patina. This chemical reaction prevents the copper from being further oxidized.

Zinc   

Zinc is silvery-white metal with a bluish shade. In the periodic table, it has an atomic number of 30 and has an atomic weight of 65.38 grams per mole. At room temperature, zinc is solid and becomes malleable when it reaches temperatures between 100-150°C. The surface of pure zinc tarnishes rapidly when exposed to oxygen.

Functions of Copper and Zinc

Earliest uses of copper include being crafted into utensils, tools, weapons, ornaments, and jewelry. Today copper is used in automobile manufacturing, building and construction. It is also widely used in electronics due to its high electrical conductivity.

Zinc was used thousands of years ago even before the element was discovered. It was only through the discovery of gas condensation that zinc could be acquired. Today, zinc is used to coat steel structures (known as galvanization) and is primarily  used in construction, shipbuilding, and lighting industries, among others.  

Copper’s Antimicrobial Properties

Copper also has antimicrobial properties. In fact, copper alloys were registered as public health antimicrobial products by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2008. Copper has been claimed to be able to kill 99.9 percent of disease-causing bacteria within two hours of contact.

Copper’s disinfecting activity is known as the oligodynamic effect and can be explained in two steps. The first step is the contact between the copper’s surface and the bacteria’s outer membrane. Copper has been discovered to “puncture” a hole in the bacteria’s membrane wall, which makes the bacteria lose essential nutrients and water, thus weakening it. Second, copper further damages bacteria through the entry of copper ions which block the bacteria’s metabolism.

One study that explored copper’s antimicrobial properties was conducted by Faúndez et al. In their research, they tested the reaction between copper and disease-causing bacteria. They observed the bacterial count at specific intervals, and found significant antibacterial activity in the copper surface as compared to the control groups composed of stainless steel and synthetic polymer, where the bacteria remained unchanged and even increased.

For these and other reasons, copper pitchers have become a popular choice of vessels to store water. As stated above, copper has been discovered to have antimicrobial properties and can be used to rid water of bacteria. In one such study by Sudha et al., researchers explored the effects of copper water vessels on microbially-contaminated drinking-water. The researchers stored bacteria-contaminated water in copper pots for 16 hours at room temperature. When they tested the water at the end of period, they could not retrieve any bacteria from the water. Drinking water from a copper vessels is also a highly recommended practice in Ayurveda.

Copper and Zinc in the Human Body

Copper and zinc are vital trace elements in the body, which means that the body only needs minute amounts of each. Chan et al. reviewed the benefits of copper, zinc, and other elements to the biochemical processes of the human body. These processes include cellular respiration, cellular utilization of oxygen, DNA and RNA reproduction, maintenance of cell membrane integrity, and sequestration of free radicals.

Copper, zinc, and selenium work to destroy free radicals by means of cascading enzyme systems. Free radicals are unbonded electrons that cause oxidative stress in the body and are connected to a variety of disease, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Copper and zinc are able to reduce superoxide free radicals. This helps maintain the integrity of membranes, decreases cancer risk, and decelerates the aging process.     

How Copper Functions in the Body

Olivares and Uauy reviewed the role of copper in the human body. They noted that copper is essential to a plethora of bodily functions, including nervous system defense mechanisms, strengthening of the bones, maturation of red and white blood cells, transportation of iron, metabolism of cholesterol and glucose metabolism.

When a body becomes deficient in copper, it may suffer from weight gain, failure to grow at an expected rate, and deterioration of the nervous system. Other adverse effects of insufficient copper amounts in the body include anemia, neutropenia, and bone abnormalities.

How Zinc Functions in the Body

In a study by Tapiero and Tew, researchers determined that zinc is found in all body tissues, with 85% present in muscles and bones and 11% in the skin and liver. The required amount of zinc in the human body is approximately 15 milligrams per day.

In a study by Prasad, it was noted that zinc-deficient patients were observed to manifest severe immune dysfunctions, and sometimes died of infections. The researchers conducted an experimental human model of zinc deficiency, and documented decreased serum testosterone levels, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. Deficiency in zinc was also discovered to lead to cognitive impairment.

Sources of Copper and Zinc

There are many sources from which we can acquire our requirement for copper and zinc. In a survey by Ma and Betts, researchers explored the average dietary consumption of copper and zinc. The daily zinc intake range was 12 to 6.4 mg for men and 8.0 to 4.0 mg for women. On the other hand, the daily copper intake range was 1.3 to 0.7 mg for men and 1.0 to 0.5 mg for women.

In the same study, it was determined that our main sources of zinc are foods such as beef, legumes, poultry, ready-to-eat and hot cereals, and pork. The study also showed that copper can be acquired from consuming legumes, potatoes, beef, nuts, and seeds.

A study by Turnlund determined that the efficient absorption of copper varies greatly depending on the dietary intake. It was also determined that changes in the efficiency of copper absorption help in regulating the amount of copper retained by the body. When there is a high amount of dietary copper absorbed by the body, the body reacts to prevent the excess accumulation of copper in the body. On the other hand, low copper intake causes the body to react differently in order to protect the body from copper depletion.

In the same study, researchers discovered that water stored in copper pots was infused with amounts of copper at a range of 0.177 to 0.016 milligrams per liter. This amount was still well within the recommended limits set by the World Health Organization.

Copper and Zinc Imbalance

Copper and zinc amounts in the body must be in an equilibrium state, failing which the body may suffer from health issues. In the same study by Chan et al. mentioned above, trace element-deficient patients typically manifested symptoms such as malaise, loss of appetite, anemia, infection, skin lesions, and low-grade neuropathy. Symptoms for intoxication by trace elements include flu-like symptoms, fever, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and neuropathy.

One study by Russo investigated the connection between anxiety and decreased zinc levels and increased copper amounts. It was observed that participants with anxiety had higher copper and lower zinc levels compared to the control group. The participants were later given zinc supplementation, which put their copper/zinc levels into balance. The researchers observed significant improvements in the participants’ symptoms after the zinc therapy. They suggest that zinc supplementation may have the capacity to improve anxiety symptoms.

Conclusion

Copper and zinc are vital elements and important for brain development, respiration, removal of free radicals, production of energy, formation of connective tissues, and metabolism of oxygen and iron. It is critical to remember that the body must only absorb minimal amounts of copper and zinc. Too much or too little amounts of copper and zinc may lead to negative health effects.

There are many sources where you can obtain your daily amounts of copper and zinc. Copper water vessels have become an increasingly popular way to ensure that you are obtaining an optimal amount of copper on a daily basis.

Please also take note that this information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any health practices.

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Proper Hydration: How to Drink Water Mindfully

Proper Hydration: How to Drink Water Mindfully

One cannot overemphasize the importance of proper hydration to health and well-being. In this article, we discuss how water is absorbed and lost by the body, the importance of staying properly hydrated, and Ayurvedic practices relevant to healthy hydration.

Introduction

Put simply, water is essential to the body. Vital organs in the body, such as the skin, brain, kidneys, and muscles, need water to function. Water also helps regulate body temperature and eliminate waste, serves as foundational material for cells and acts as a solvent and reaction medium.

One cannot overemphasize the importance of proper hydration to health and well-being. Put simply, water is essential to the body. Vital organs in the body, such as the skin, brain, kidneys, and muscles, need water to function. Water also helps regulate body temperature and eliminate waste, serves as foundational material for cells and acts as a solvent and reaction medium.

Water also acts as the basis for the taste sensory experience: having a dry tongue would make it very difficult for you to taste anything! Water is also an essential component in the many processes of the body, including digestion, circulation, and absorption. The body is, in fact, made up of approximately 60 percent water.

In general, we give little thought to how we drink water. As long as we get our daily required amount and keep ourselves from feeling thirsty, then we’re fine, right? In fact, did you know that the way in which you drink water can have a significant effect on the quality of your body’s hydration? In particular, did you know that, according to Ayurvedic medicine, the ideal manner of drinking water is while sitting down rather than standing? This is discussed in more detail below.

How the Body Absorbs and Loses Water

When we drink water, it becomes absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and then moves to the circulatory system. From there, it travels to the interstitial spaces, and is delivered to each cell in the body through the process of osmosis. When water moves away from the stomach, segments in the small intestine known as the duodenum and jejunum absorb it. These segments can absorb an estimated 6.5 liters of water per day.

The body loses water in various ways. One common way is through sweating, which is the body’s method of regulating temperature. Water loss through sweating varies according to different factors. The rate at which water is lost through sweating is lower for those that engage in minimal physical activity and live in environments with moderate or cool temperatures. On the other hand, water loss by sweating is higher for people that engage in frequent physical activity and live in warm or hot environments.

The clothes you wear also affects your body’s production of sweat. If we wear heavy and water-proof clothing, which hampers sweat evaporation, it reduces the body’s ability to maintain a balanced temperature and ultimately increases the amount of water lost through sweat.

Another way we lose water is through waste excretion. Urination represents the most significant loss of water for healthy adults that engage in minimal or moderate physical activity. The amount of water lost through waste excretion varies, from about 500 milliliters to several liters per day. The kidneys’ primary function is to filter and excrete waste, while controlling body fluid volumes.

When we lose water, it is necessary to replace it. Although our bodies produce a small amount of water through metabolic activity, the best way to restore proper hydration levels is through consuming food and fluids.   

When Do you Need to Drink Water?

Naturally, we tend to drink water when we are thirsty. In fact, scientists define thirst as “the conscious desire to drink.” The sensation of thirst is stimulated by an increase of plasma osmolality (the measure of the number of dissolved particles in a fluid) which sensory receptors, known as osmoreceptors, detect.

Other physiological signs that we need to drink water include having a dry mouth, lips and bad breath. These are typically signs that there is less saliva production due to a lack of water in the body. Another red flag is when you find it hard to concentrate when trying to perform a particular task. Even a two percent reduction in hydration levels can cause mental processes to decline.

There are also other factors, such as behavioral and social stimuli, that affect our water-drinking behavior. For instance, we may drink water in a certain manner and at a certain time of day by reason of habit. For example, many people have a habit of drinking water first thing after waking up in the morning or while they eat their meals.

Ayurvedic Principles of Healthy Hydration

According to Ayurvedic principles, water is the manifestation of consciousness. Water is also perceived as the representation of soma, which is the quality of nourishment and cooling capability related to lunar energy. It is imbued with characteristics such as fluidity, heaviness, softness, coldness, density, and cohesiveness. Ayurveda also views water as necessary to bind molecules together and believes that it serves as a universal chemical solvent.

Ayurveda has many guidelines in respect of the consumption of food and fluids, and it is believed that following these guidelines can have significant positive health effects. For example, Ayurveda suggests that fluids should be consumed at certain times of the day, and that water should be taken with meals in only small sips.

Ayurveda also has recommendations as for how to drink water. The best way, according to Ayurveda, is to sit down and take your time drinking water, as opposed to standing up and gulping it down as quickly as you can.

Ayurvedic principles state that standing can cause the nerves to tense up and activate the sympathetic system, or the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, which signals to your body that it is facing danger. Standing also generally hastens the speed at which you drink water. It is widely understood and accepted that food and fluids must be consumed slowly for optimal health and well-being. The gradual introduction of food and fluids allows the body to facilitate absorption and digestion in an optimal manner.

Have you ever wondered why you felt the need to urinate just a few minutes after quickly gulping down a glass of water? This is a sign that your body was unable to thoroughly absorb the water as a result of the speed at which you drank it. This type of activity can also be counterproductive, since it may prevent your body from becoming properly hydrated and may in fact make you feel thirsty. Also, since there is minimal absorption of water in these circumstances, your kidneys may not be able to property utilize the water you drank fully and, in turn, may be unable to efficiently and fully filter the water. As a result, wastes may remain stuck in the kidneys and bladder which could lead to urinary tract infection.  

As already mentioned, standing up while drinking water tends to make you gulp it down more rapidly. Some Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the rapid consumption of water may also lead to the weakening of joints and bones. In particular, rapid consumption of water can unsettle the balance of fluids in the body, which can, in turn, cause more fluids to accumulate in the joints and lead to arthritis.

Other potential adverse effects of drinking water standing up is the potential injury that can be caused when water flows immediately to your gut and splashes against the stomach wall. This may damage the gastrointestinal tract and lead to chronic digestive issues. Another negative effect of this water-splashing phenomenon is gastroesophageal reflux disease. This happens when water splashes the lower half of the esophagus and disturbs the sphincter. The acids can flow backward and cause a burning sensation in the esophagus.

The situation is very different when you drink water while sitting down. Your body remains calm and in a parasympathetic state when you are sitting down. This encourages the body to enter a ‘rest and digest’ phase, which is more supportive of proper hydration. Drinking water at a more gradual pace, and while in a restful position, also permits your kidneys greater latitude to properly filter the water and eliminate toxins.

Of course, it may not always be possible to remain seated when drinking water, such as when you are exercising and have a high heart rate. In such circumstances, it may not be appropriate or healthy to sit down. Always seek the advice of a medical professional on how best to drink water and fluids, especially if you have medical issues.

Other Ways to Optimize Hydration

Ayurveda also offers a variety of other methods to improve our water-drinking practices.

Ayurveda maintains that you should not gulp down large quantities of water, especially during meals since this can negatively affect your agni, which is the “digestive fire” that is responsible for aiding the digestive process.

Ayurveda views it as preferable to consume lukewarm or hot water rather than ice-cold water. The cold temperature can extinguish your agni, disturb digestion and reduce blood supply to the different organs of your body, which may cause constipation and other ailments.

The optimal timing of water consumption can also vary according to a person’s dosha. For example, it may be ideal for a person with the vata dosha to drink water only one hour after he or she has eaten a meal. Meanwhile, a person with the pitta dosha may do well to take small sips during meals. People with the kapha dosha may drink water an hour before their meal so that their stomach is filled, which may reduce the tendency to eat more.

Ayurveda also suggests drinking water when your body gives a signal that it needs it. Ayurveda maintains that a set and specific amount of water to be consumed by all people is not fitting since individuals have unique genetic compositions and different hydration needs. Hence, the adage which suggests drinking 'eight glasses of water a day' should not be taken as an overall recommendation that suits everyone. In fact, this may be too much or too little for you. The body knows when it needs water, and you will have to heed its cues to know when to drink water and how much to drink.

Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend drinking water stored in a copper water pitcher, which has a variety of benefits, including creating natural alkaline water. According to ancient Ayurvedic principles, water stored in a copper jug (which is known as “tamra jal”) balances the three doshas in your body (vata, kapha and pitta) by gently infusing the water with the many health benefits of copper. To learn more on this subject, read our blog post on the health benefits of copper pitchers.

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Water Quality Testing: The Complete Guide

Water Quality Testing: The Complete Guide

Water is vital to our survival and is one of the most important resources in the world. It has many purposes, but the most essential of all is to keep us hydrated.

The human body is comprised of 60% water, and we can only survive three to four days without water. Water plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature, lubricating the joints, and removing wastes. It cannot be stressed enough how important water is to our lives. The World Health Organization has even gone so far as to state that clean and safe drinking water is an essential human right.

Have you ever wondered if the water you are drinking is pure? One way to determine this is through special tests designed to analyze the quality of you water. In this article, we outline various water testing methods, some of which you can apply at home.

Why you Need Pure Water

The key reason why we need pure drinking water is to keep ourselves safe from health risks. Drinking clean water can help prevent various health issues, such as blood clots, heart disease, as well as mental and physical fatigue.

Consuming contaminated water can result in minimal physical impact to severe illness and even death. The effects vary with the type of contaminant and the age and overall well-being of the person. One can experience immediate reactions, such as nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Other effects can manifest long term and can lead to chronic health issues such as cancer, liver and kidney damage, nervous and immune system damage, and congenital disabilities.

Contaminants Found in Drinking Water

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes “contaminants” in the context of water as a “physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water.” The EPA also notes that water may contain a small amount of contaminants but not necessarily pose any health risk.

The contaminants in water are generally classified into four categories. The first type are physical contaminants that mainly affects the water’s physical appearance and other physical properties. Some examples of physical pollutants include sediments and organic materials that become suspended in the water.

The second type are chemical contaminants which come in the form of elements and compounds which can be organic or human-made. Some examples of chemical contaminants include nitrogen, bleach, salts, pesticides, and metals.

The third type are biological contaminants, which are organisms that live in the water. These are often microbes or microbiological organisms. Examples of these include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasites.

The fourth type are radiological contaminants, which are chemical elements that have imbalanced protons and neutrons. These result in unstable atoms that can discharge ionizing radiation. Cesium, plutonium, and uranium are some examples of this type of contaminant.

Basic Criteria to Assess Water Purity

The EPA and the World Health Organization have created guidelines and standards for drinking-water quality. These guidelines set out the parameters of safe drinking water and identify the allowable amount of contaminants in drinking water.

However, these specifications are somewhat technical, and most people do not have all the tools necessary to accurately assess the level of contaminants in their drinking water.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to help you evaluate the purity of your water. First, drinking water must be clean and clear, and never cloudy. If you notice a strange tint, such as an orange or brown tint, do not attempt to drink the water. This can be a sign that there is a high amount of iron or manganese in the water. This occurrence can be caused by rusting pipes, or mining and excavation activities near the water supply.

You should also smell your water to make sure it does not have any unpleasant scent. Public water treatment facilities often add a certain amount of chlorine to kill bacteria. However, if the chlorine smell is so strong that it resembles water from a swimming pool, then your water may be chemically contaminated. In addition, high sulfur content can cause your water to smell faintly of rotten eggs.

If any of these negative qualities are present in your water, then you probably already known that the water is not safe for drinking. Of course, these methods are somewhat simplistic and do not guarantee that your water is pure. Some contaminants are not able to be identified immediately through sight, smell or taste. You will get a more accurate result if you test the purity of the water.

Methods to Test Water Purity

If you have a limited budget and wish to test your water for chemical contaminants, there are three types of testing methods you can use.

One method is to use water test strips, which are small, single-use strips. Using test strips will provide you with a basic sense of the concentration level of a particular chemical in your water.

Water test strips are generally used by dipping them into the water sample. You then compare the results of the test strip against a color chart that is included in the kit to identify the concentration of the chemical you are testing for. If you are testing to determine whether you have alkaline water, you can use pH strips.

Another method is to use color disc kits. This involves adding a packet of powder or liquid reagent to a water sample that is placed in a tube. The kit usually includes a viewing box where you place tube, and a color disc where you can match the resulting color from the water sample.

The last method is to use handheld digital devices. These are also known as digital metering tools, colorimeters, and photometers. Although these tools are more accurate than the first two methods, they are also more expensive.

The above-noted tools can be used to test for chemical contaminants that may be present in the water, such as fluoride, nitrate, iron, and manganese. For fluoride testing, it is recommended that the color disc kit be used as this provides a more accurate result than test strips. It is also recommended that you test for other chemical contaminants such as lead, barium, aluminum, ammonia, uranium, silver, and potassium.

That said, there are some chemical contaminants, such as arsenic, that are best tested professionally by a laboratory or regional health department. You will generally need to comply with specific criteria and protocols set by the agency who will conduct the examination.

Testing for biological contaminants generally involves much more than dipping a test strip in a water sample. Some of the methods that are involved in testing biological contaminants include filtrating, culturing, and incubating, all of which are somewhat complicated processes.

Testing for radiological contaminants is similarly complicated. Since multiple radioactive isotopes can be present in your water, it may not be practical or efficient to test for all of them. Screening tests identify alpha and beta particles and follow specific guidelines, which a professional is best positioned to assist with.

Conclusion

Clean and safe water quality is essential to you and your family’s health. Various testing tools are available to test water quality. If, based on these tests, you feel that there is something wrong with your water, it is best to submit a water sample to the appropriate water testing agencies and laboratories who can conduct more extensive tests.

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Using Your New Copper Pitcher

Introduction

This is your complete guide to using your new copper water pitcher! In this guide, we discuss the benefits of your pitcher, how to use it, how to clean and care for it, and how a portion of profits will help non-profit organizations that work to supply clean drinking water to struggling communities in the developing world. Let's dive in!

Benefits

Did you know that drinking water from a copper water pitcher has amazing health benefits and is widely recommended by health experts? According to ancient Ayurvedic health principles, water stored in a copper jug (which is known as “tamra jal”) balances the three doshas in your body (vata, kapha and pitta) by gently infusing the water with the many health benefits of copper.

In fact, numerous research studies have shown that copper has incredible anti-bacterial properties, acts as an effective anti-oxidant, strengthens the immune system, helps promote good health, slows the appearance of aging, helps the body cleanse itself of toxins and free radicals, and helps stimulate the brain. Because copper is naturally anti-bacterial, our copper jugs are also naturally self-sterilizing.

Learn more about the benefits on our homepage and blog.

How to Use Your New Copper Pitcher

Your copper pitcher will be ready to keep you hydrated right out of the box, but we do recommend washing the inside with warm water and a drop of liquid soap before filling it up with drinking water for the first time.     

You can use any type of water in your copper pitcher, including tap water, water that has been passed through a filter, or even bottled water. You will probably notice the greatest difference with tap water, which is generally the least alkaline and in the need of the most care. Although tap water is generally fine in most first-world cities, you may wish to consider filtering you water before pouring it into your copper pitcher.      

For best results, we suggest leaving water in your copper pitcher overnight at room temperature for about 6 to 8 hours, and then drinking 2 to 3 glasses of water from the pitcher first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You can then drink from the pitcher throughout the day and fill it up again as needed.

While it is fine to fill your copper pitcher with warm water, we recommend against filling it with hot or boiling water, as this can negatively affect your pitcher and potentially cause the water to absorb too much copper from your pitcher (the greater the temperature of water, the more capable it is of absorbing metals such as copper).

Please note that we only suggest using water in your copper pitcher. Copper can react with certain acids, including acids found in lemons, fruits, essential oils, coffee, and tea, so it's best to only use water in your copper pitcher.

Cleaning Instructions

Your copper pitcher is made of 100% pure copper, so it will naturally patina over time. Many of our customers like having the exterior of their pitchers age gracefully into a beautiful copper patina, but, if you prefer the shine of copper, it is very easy to remove. Simply sprinkle a pinch of salt on a slice of lemon, allow the salt to dissolve, and then gently rub it on the surface of your pitcher. The lemon and salt will form a mixture that will naturally remove the patina and restore the copper’s shine. Once done, rinse with water and dry well.

The inside of the copper pitcher will also patina, but this has no effect on the quality of the water stored inside the pitcher. We recommend cleaning the inside of your pitcher every now and then with warm water and a drop of liquid soap, and then rinsing it well. However, be sure to never wash your copper pitcher in a dishwasher.

Learn more about how to clean copper on our sister site.

Charity

We strongly believe in giving back and supporting communities in need.

That's why we donate 15% of our profits to various non-profit groups that work to supply clean drinking water to struggling communities in the developing world.

Learn more about our Giving Back program.

Questions

Have more questions about your new copper pitcher? Check out our FAQ or send us an email!

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