Everything You Need to Know About Raw Water, a Potentially Dangerous New Health Trend

It seems like every year new heath trends pop up out of nowhere that have us scratching our heads. The raw water trend is no exception. Across the United States, raw water is the newest craze that has people running out to purchase it by the gallon. There’s just one problem: It could be deadly. Here’s what you need to know about what it is and why it’s so dangerous.

What is ‘raw’ water?

Spring water being poured into a cup.

What’s with the hype? | ArtTim/iStock/Getty Images

Raw water is water that hasn’t been filtered or treated. It’s essentially bottled directly from a spring, which means none of the bacteria have been removed from it. Those who are getting the water have little to no standards about which springs they are using. One raw water enthusiast uses a specific spring simply because it’s close to his home.

Companies marketing the “live” water say it helps build the body’s immune system by supplying necessary probiotics. Just a heads up: You can buy perfectly safe yogurt to get probiotics into your body without risking your life.

Why do people want it?

Girl drinking water from a bottle.

Some people think raw water has benefits. | Jasam_io/iStock/Getty Images

People want to keep their bodies pure. To those who support it, drinking raw water means they are ensuring no harmful chemicals enter their bodies. According to Business Insider, the emotional idea of purity and health is what initially attracted consumers to start buying the water. However, now doctors and food safety experts are speaking up about the risks associated with drinking it. “You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid,” food safety expert Bill Marler told Business Insider. “But we should at least try.”

What do we need to worry about?

Spring water with trees.

There could be bacteria in the waters. | iStock.com

Disease, disease, disease. Untreated water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and experts agree untreated water is trying to solve a problem that simply doesn’t exist. Clean water will always be the only safe way to hydrate. Still, wealthy people in places, such as Oregon, Maine, and Silicon Valley, are blinded by the idea of a “purer body.” As a result, they expose themselves to diseases every time they sip the water.

The following are three of the most dangerous diseases found in unfiltered water.


Water being recovered from a spring.

Raw water might contain parasites. | iStock.com

This is an intestinal disease caused by the parasite giardia. The parasite is commonly found in unfiltered water, such as rivers or streams. It latches on to the intestines of its host and causes severe diarrhea that can last anywhere from two to six weeks. Diarrhea can cause extreme dehydration. Plus, prolonged periods of diarrhea can lead to weight loss and a weakened immune system, which make the parasite especially dangerous in babies or the elderly.


Cholera Vaccination on a blue background.

It can be deadly. | iStock.com

Cholera has similar symptoms to giardiasis, but bacteria, rather than a parasite, causes it. It is usually found in contaminated water or food. With quick treatment, most cholera patients will survive. However, in some cases, the diarrhea becomes so severe that a person can quickly become dehydrated and go into shock. If treatment is not immediate, death can occur within hours.

E. coli

Drops being poured into water.

Raw water can also contain E. coli bacteria. | iStock.com

E. coli bacteria are common in contaminated food or water, and while some strains are harmless, others can make you very sick. It typically causes diarrhea and dehydration, plus vomiting. In certain cases, E. coli causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can shut down the kidneys and cause serious medical problems. Some experience permanent kidney damage or death from the bacteria.

The ‘privileged’ are paying for what millions wish they didn’t have

A woman holds a water bottle.

Raw water might not be the best option. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

There is no bigger luxury than living in an area with easily accessible clean water. In underdeveloped places, roughly 3 million people die each year from water-related diseases. Those people would do anything to know their drinking water is safe, and for years dedicated charities have worked to make this happen. Still, those in privileged areas are paying to drink untreated water. No, this nonsensical trend is not a joke. But it is definitely a risk.

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