Choosing the Right Water

With the flood of filters and bottled water on the market today, understanding the options is the key to making the best choice

By Cathi Stack, ND

The options for water are endless – from tap and bottled to at-home filters and ionizers, but which options are the best when it comes to our health?

Having been inundated with many questions about which water to choose, I know it can be confusing. Most people agree tap water is not the best choice, but may not understand why. Typically there are two sources of tap water — ground water and surface water.

Ground water is usually pumped from wells and has been naturally filtered as it travels through the ground. The quality will vary based on where you live. Surface water is replenished by lakes, rivers and reservoirs, and while the quality of surface water varies from region to region, it is typically treated by filtration, flocculation (binding of harmful particles so they settle out) and disinfection (usually done with chlorine).

Other alternatives when it comes to water treatment are ozonation and ultraviolet radiation. Ozonation does not change the mineral content of water, but fear of contamination from chemical exposure is the issue. Also, this does not include the risk of contamination from old pipes.

For these reasons, tap water is not the best choice when it comes to drinking water. Below are the various alternative options available, and the pros and cons of each, so one can make the best choice for his or her individual situation.

Bottled Water
Touted to be the best, the jury is still out when it comes to the health benefits of bottled water. There is more variety to bottled water than you may think, including spring, mineral, well, artesian, sparkling and purified, and more information can be found at the International Bottled Water Association website at

The quality of the actual water is not usually the issue. The risk comes in the packaging. Soft and flimsy plastic bottles are very low in quality when it comes to your health because the plastic leaches into the water, causing increased risk for certain cancers. Freezing and thawing the bottles makes the problem even worse. One way to avoid this is to buy your water in glass bottles, but if you are purchasing bottled water in plastic, make sure to use sturdy plastic that does not squeeze easily under your grip. If it’s BPA-free, it’s even better.

For those interested in the best choices when it comes to healthier bottled water, the winners in my opinion are: pH Miracle Water, Eternal, Voss, Trinity, Essentia and Evamore. These superior choices are cleaner plastics or preferably glass. Also, drinking alkalized water is the best when it comes to your health. Look for a pH of about 9. Illness, degenerative disease, inflammation and even cancer do not like an alkaline environment.

Pitcher filters, while inexpensive, have only been proven to be slightly better than tap water. The better options are countertop and under the sink systems, which typically use carbon block or granular filtering methods. Dual Stage filters are a great choice as they remove harmful chemicals, as well as parasites, and the preservation of mineral content is typically maintained.

pH Drops
This will potentiate the health benefits of your water by altering the pH to about 9 or 10. The benefits of drinking alkalized water are no secret.

These machines reverse the charge of water from positive to negative, which is more alkaline. Most appliances allow you to adjust the pH of the water, and I believe this would be the best choice for the health conscious consumer. Some of the more reputable brands include Young pHorever and Jupiter Orion. These units typically run from $800-$1,500, and are usually countertop models, but they can be mounted under the sink.

Distilled water is not recommended as it is void of any minerals. Reverse osmosis tends to be very acidic rather than alkaline, which is what we want. Also, deionized water does not remove bacteria.

These are the basics, but I encourage everyone to do their own research and make the best choice for their individual lifestyle.

cathi_stackCatherine (Cathi) Stack is owner, facilitator and Doctor of Naturopathy at Journey II Health LLC, established in 2007 in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Along with her naturopathic practice at Journey II Health, Stack continues to work at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital as a Certified Nurse Midwife. She loves sharing her knowledge with her patients, co-workers, friends and readers. She currently writes for a variety of publications, which include her Sunday column in the Niagara Gazette. She can be reached via her Web site,

Simple Ways to Boost Metabolism

By Cathi Stack

A common block to weight loss for many individuals is a low functioning metabolism. We have all heard about our metabolism – and many have complained about it – but do we actually know what it is or how we can affect it?

A simple test of how well a person’s metabolism is working is to assess how he or she feels physically. If someone is energetic and feels good, then the metabolism is probably fine. But if they feel sluggish upon waking or have a tough time getting through the day without the help of caffeine or energy drinks, then a metabolism tune-up may be in order.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few ways to optimize the metabolism:

Drink pure, filtered water. Metabolism depends on water in the bloodstream to carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the body where they metabolize into energy and build new cells. Over 80 percent of the bloodstream is water.

An average of 2 liters, or 8 cups, of water is lost daily through breathing, perspiration, digestion, elimination and other bodily functions, and this needs to be replenished. This amount is an average, as body size, activity level and nutritional habits all affect how much water each individual needs on a daily basis. A good rule of thumb is for a person to drink half their body weight in ounces of water each day. Water also plays a very important role in fat metabolism. This easy and inexpensive tip is one of the key ways to increase metabolism.

Eat breakfast. A simple analogy would be to expect a car to take us to work in the morning without putting gas into it. If we don’t eat breakfast, we slow down our metabolism and send the body into “fat-saving mode.” The body thinks it is starving when we go eight to 10 hours or more without food.

Get enough sleep. The body does its best work of restoring, repairing and recharging (metabolizing) while we sleep. Nothing runs well if the batteries are drained.

Exercise. Muscle cells have more mitochondria than fat cells. When you strengthen your muscles, more mitochondria are created. More mitochondria equals more energy production, which is the same as saying a “better metabolism” or better fat burning.

Breathe deeply. Get more oxygen into the lungs and body. Metabolism requires oxygen, so deep breathing (relaxed and natural, not forced) is definitely one of the ways to increase metabolism. Practice taking a deep breath or two often throughout the day, and get outside around some plants (they give off oxygen) if you can.

Don’t starve. Most of my overweight clients go well into the day before they even eat for the first time. A comment I frequently hear is “but I hardy eat anything.” This is a metabolism in trouble for sure. Dropping calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to the body that a person is in starvation mode, and will slow down metabolism.

Eat smaller meals more frequently. Smaller, more frequent meals every three hours keeps the blood sugar stable and provides a steady source of energy to fuel metabolism. Also, do not eat after 7 p.m.

Beneficial Supplements. A few supplements to include are B-Complex, B-12, CoQ-10, ginseng and green tea extract. While supplements may help, know they will not take the place of a nutritious diet.


What is Constipation & How Can We Fix It?

By Catherine Stack, Journey II Health, LLC

When assisting one in overcoming constipation, I often find her or she is likely to be constipated in other areas of life besides their intestines. It may be in relationships, finances, fear, anxiety and even spirituality. A great example would be to compare the constipated individual to a hoarder.  They can’t let “it” go. They hold on for no good reason, which clutters up other areas of their life. When they learn to let go of their poop, they often let go of emotional baggage as well. You might not consider this a beautiful experience, but it is!

Because more than 63 million Americans suffer from chronic constipation, close to 700 million dollars each year is spent on constipation relief remedies. Doctors, gastrointestinal specialists and other health care providers typically offer little assistance when it comes to helping, often referring patients to take laxatives or eat more fiber. Some even suggest pooping every three to four days is normal – and I assure you it is not. Please don’t ever settle for that kind of normal!

The problem with fiber is when given to the constipated individual, it tends to backfire, leaving them in a state of pending explosion. Fiber is a bulking agent and the last thing the constipated person needs it to be “bulked up.” Don’t get me wrong, foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds do a great job in preventing constipation, but when constipation is well established even these healthy options will struggle to get through. Once an individual is constipated, he or she must be a bit more proactive and creative when it comes to reestablishing healthy bowel movements, which by the way, is more than one bowel movement daily.

How it Starts
Missing your window of “poopertunity” is where the problem begins for many who tend to shy away from going in public places.  This bad habit may have started during the early school years.  Once constipated, they become very self-conscious about the smell and sounds that may erupt from a public toilet—so they choose to hold. This ultimately leads to an over distended colon that is not easily reversed if the constipation is longstanding.

Also, not drinking enough water is an aggravating factor for some, and dietary intolerances, mostly wheat and dairy, are contributing factors when it comes to what constipates us. However, convincing people to give up their bread, cheese and milk doesn’t always work.

Based on my own patient population, I can estimate that at least 15 percent of the population is anatomically incorrect. What lies within their abdomen, fails to resemble the pretty pictures of the colon in the anatomy books. These are the toughest cases to treat, and they must learn to stay proactive and switch things up often. Prior abdominal surgeries predispose the individual to scar tissue and adhesions that may result in strictures and changes within the colon as well. Medications are rarely considered, but often a contributing factor that may be over looked.

Additionally, parasites should be considered, as they are not an uncommon finding in the constipated individual. If you grind your teeth when you sleep, have dark circles under your eyes or maybe a dull ache in the lower right quadrant of your belly, parasites are likely.

For those suffering from long-term constipation, the above information paints a pretty bleak picture when it comes to finding help. But there are many supplements, foods and other remedies that can help. These include Cape Aloe, magnesium, probiotics and therapies such as colon hydrotherapy, which can have an individual “moving well” in no time. The transformation is amazing to watch. Literally, the cloud lifts, energy soars and the feeling of wellbeing becomes addicting.

cathi_stackCatherine Stack ND, CNM is the author of the brand new book, “Free Yourself from a CONSTIPATED Life.” The owner, facilitator and Doctor of Naturopathy at Journey II Health, LLC in Niagara Falls, established in 2007, Stack has  been employed at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital as a Certified Nurse Midwife for more then 14 years.  Specialties include individualized nutrition, colon hydrotherapy (colonics), digestive health and bio-identical hormone replacement for women. For more information on her book, visit,