With a full heart I reflect back on last summer that we spent lake-hopping in the Austrian, Swiss and Italian Alps. The Alps truly are one of earth's “freshwater castles”, offering fun surrounded by breathtaking scenery and so-called “blue gold” at every turn. Inhaling negative ions from mountain springs and wild streams, swimming in pristine lakes and drinking cold spring water from the mountains, really ups your wellbeing. It feels like It resets your system and cleanses your soul. In contrast to other trips which have left me needing another vacation after the vacation, I felt genuinely rejuvenated.
One of the reasons we intuitively feel good and choose to vacation in these pristine natural environments is undoubtedly the abundance of negative ions. Negative ions are atoms (or molecules) that have gained one or more extra negatively charged electrons. They are naturally produced through processes such as water evaporation or the breaking of water droplets. Consequently, they are abundant in the vicinity of waterfalls, rivers, forests, and oceans.
I remember that in Japan, they were marketing hairdryers and hairbrushes with negative ion-releasing features as far back as twenty years ago. In the West, however, they were long dismissed as esoteric. It’s a good thing that their healing properties, including their relaxing, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects, are now scientifically thoroughly researched and integrated into our understanding of health and nature.
One of my favourite effects is their mood-boosting capability as they elevate serotonin levels, as well as their enhancement of daytime energy. As red blood cells come into contact with negative ions, their ability to deform increases, allowing them to sneak through small blood vessels and reach the farthest and narrowest corners in our bodies - meaning increased microcirculation and improved oxygen transport.
What I recently learned is that one in three of us are especially sensitive to this energising mechanism. We must be part of that group as we both like to leave the window open at night for fresh air however cold it is outside. From my experience, I can confirm that air quality (hand in hand with the breath) regulates my energy. When living in Tokyo spending lots of time in skyscrapers where windows do not open and air comes filtered through air-conditioning, I was definitely not in the best energetic state. This makes sense as air-conditioning depletes the atmosphere of negative ions. Electronic devices such as computer monitors (Tokyo is teeming with them) emit counteracting positive ions.
In contrast, the most high-energy place I have been to must be the Norwegian fjords. Exercise was not a thing in my life back then and I had to motivate myself to move. But in the fjords that are created by glaciers and are children of the ice age, I had this burst of energy and was suddenly sporty. Movement felt automatic, as if the body was moving me, instead of the other way round.
Beyond negative ions
We share the view that swimming in natural lakes or the ocean is a more invigorating experience compared to swimming in a pool, just as bathing in a hot spring (Onsen) surpasses a regular bathtub. The Italian lakes are beautiful, but my most cherished memory is when we swam in a small picturesque lake in the Swiss mountains, enveloped by the forest. The rush of adrenaline as the cooling water meets your skin, the soothing sensation of water massaging your body, followed by the warmth and radiance of the sun on your face. Yet, I truly believe that it's the water itself, imbued with the energy of the moon, the sun, and the stars that revitalises every cell in the body.
It is similar when it comes to drinking water in those areas. My experience with mountain spring water is that it feels as if it gets instantly absorbed the moment it enters my system, leaving me with an immediate desire for more. In contrast, with many bottled brand waters, and especially tap water, I often find myself having to force myself to drink it, and I can feel it accumulating in my stomach. Studies have shown that spring water does have a higher level of cellular availability, making it easier to absorb by the body. But why?
Is it the purity of the water? We often hold the belief that our tap water is good water because we've eliminated all bacteria from it. Yet, the purity of our tap water is questionable. Take, for example, German tap water, often lauded as one of the best tap waters globally. While it's a blessing in places without access to treated tap water, it's essential to consider that there are various water-contaminating substances beyond bacteria. Drinking water safety regulations, which appear to guarantee our safety, establish limits for just 33 harmful substances. However, in Europe alone, over 100,000 synthetic chemicals find their way into water.
I recall my maths tutor, a physicist, who refused to drink tap water due to concerns about oestrogen from contraceptive pills 15 years ago. At that time, I naively assumed that water authorities ensured such substances weren't present, but it turns out they do not. From antibiotics to X-ray contrast agents, from birth control pills to antiepileptic drugs, a wide array of pharmaceutical substances has been detected in tap water. However, it's important to note that there is still no global drinking water regulation that accounts for medication residues. If you examine the volume of pharmaceutical prescriptions administered in your country, it's safe to assume that around 85% is excreted by the human body, as it isn't fully absorbed. These remnants find their way into the sewage system via toilets.
But even then, when I was unaware of this, my body consistently disliked or rejected tap water, particularly in London. Isn’t it fascinating how the body's innate intelligence knows what's beneficial for you and what to avoid, as long as we don't dull its sensitivity?
So, the presence or absence of contamination that the body's intelligence can sense is one reason why swimming in chlorinated water feels different, and why we prefer spring water over tap or most bottled water. However, there is something else that determines whether the water is truly beneficial for you or not.
Frequently, discussions on water quality, particularly concerning health, revolve around the chemical composition of minerals in the water. Opinions vary on this matter. Some argue for a high mineral content, while others advocate for minimal minerals, making the water 'soft' (i.e., mineral-free). However, experiments attempting to replicate the mineral content of water recognized as 'healing' by adding minerals to highly pure distilled water demonstrated that mineral content alone does not hold a significant role. It failed to produce the same positive effects as the original water.
The energy level of water
What distinguishes these waters with identical chemical compositions? The answer lies in the variation of the water's cluster structure, which ultimately determines the water's energy level. Some water is characterised as lifeless, while other water is so dynamic that it is referred to as 'living' water. It is an incredibly intriguing subject, full of mysticism, as some astounding observations exist, yet there are still gaps in our understanding.
I salute the scientists who do not shy away from researching the unknown, formulating thesis that challenge the status quo and thereby risk their reputation in the scientific community. It seems to me as though the secrets of the universe and life itself are being gradually revealed through the medium of water - and I am thrilled to witness this with you!