Health June 13, 2011

Body and Soul


The Drinking Game
Bottled Water Basics [p. 2]
Message in a Bottle [pg.3]

Bodies of Water
H2O and Human Health [p. 4]
Water Ways [p. 5]

Trout Friendly
Impacts on the River [p. 6]
Streams of Life [p. 7]

Healing Waters
Finding Higher Ground [p. 8]




The basics behind drinking water

Browse the water aisle at the grocery store and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with choices—spring water, seltzer water, vitamin water, mineral water it’s all there for the drinking. In the U.S. there are nearly 200 different brands of mineral water alone. It’s simply a matter of finding what works best for you.
For Brenda Powell, director of the 90-Day Challenge program at Thunder Spring’s Zenergy Health Club and Spa, nutritionist and two-time finisher in the Iron Man, a good recovery drink is her answer to staying hydrated. “Coconut water has a lot of naturally occurring electrolytes. I figure that I recover much quicker withit than regular water. I have a magic formula that really works for me—half coconut water, half tap water and a packet of Emergen-C.”
That said, here’s a glimpse of what’s out there and what’s in it for you.

-Jody Orr


Once upon a time, plastic water bottles didn’t exist. Then, in the late 1970s, Perrier came to America, and with it the craze for drinking water from a bottle. That little green bottle changed everything.

About 30 billion bottles of water are sold per year in North America as an alternative to tap water. Forty percent of that water is nothing but filtered tap water. According to the 2010 documentary “Tapped,” bottled water costs 1,900 times more than tap water. And while tap water is rigorously monitored by the EPA (in communities of 50,000 or more it is tested hundreds of times a month), the FDA tests only water that travels across state lines. Tap water, particularly in the Wood River Valley, is clean, affordable and tastes good.

And then there’s the environment to consider. In Peter H. Gleick’s exposé, “Bottled & Sold,” he estimates that only about 20 percent of water bottles sold are recycled because of shipping costs. The rest go in landfills. More than 60 tons of plastic was recycled in the Wood River Valley last year according to Craig Barry, executive director of the Environmental Resource Center. “Those numbers have more than doubled in the last few years, but we don’t know how much of that are plastic water bottles.” Bottle bills, which add a 5¢ deposit, exist in only 11 states (Idaho isn’t one of them). Half of that legislation doesn’t include plastic.

A simple solution for people who don’t like tap water—buy a filter. Filters remove impurities and make water taste better. There are dozens of types available—sub- sink, faucet, refrigerator or whole house filters. They range from under $10 for a pitcher filter, to thousands for a whole house filter. -Jody Orr


The importance of water to human health

We begin our lives submerged. Floating in a sea of amniotic fluid comprised largely of water, we enter the world as liquid beings, made of nearly 85 percent water. By the time we’re a year old, we lose 20 percent of that total. Water is the most important resource on the planet, and without it there would be no life.

A simple molecule made of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, water’s role in the health of our bodies cannot be underestimated. In addition to transporting nutrients and oxygen to every cell, it acts as a natural thermostat, regulating cell and core body temperatures. Water is the body’s Jiffy Lube, ensuring that our joints, muscles and organs are well oiled and running at maximum efficiency. And that’s just the beginning. Slather as much lotion as you like on dry skin, but water moisturizes you from the inside out. It’s also the least expensive weight loss option around. Feel hungry? Drink a glass of water and find yourself sated and hydrated. Metabolic function and digestion improve with increased water intake, and researchers have found that men and women who drank five or more glasses of water a day were less likely to die from heart attack. Water is a natural laxative, keeping you regular by adding fluid to the colon. Your mother was right when she told you to drink plenty of fluids when you were sick. Water flushes bacteria out of your system and eliminates toxins that build up in the body, enabling your kidneys to function optimally, while preventing kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
We can survive without food for several weeks, but a few waterless days can mean the difference between life and death. At just one percent below the body’s normal water balance, we begin to feel thirsty; dizziness occurs if we fall below five percent and a loss of 12 percent can be deadly. In the Wood River Valley’s high desert climate where air pressure and humidity are lower, moisture evaporates from the skin surface and lungs more quickly. At 6,000 feet, we exhale and perspire twice as much as we do at sea level. Throughout the day, we lose two to three quarts of water through sweat, urine and breathing.

About 40 percent of our water intake is through the food we eat (fruits and vegetables are high in water content); however, drinking water is key in avoiding dehydration. Eight to ten glasses of water a day is recommended, but living at higher elevations requires more—particularly for competitive athletes. Camille Wood, who owns and operates The Water Store out of her home in Ketchum, is a local distributer for Kangen Filtration Systems. Wood believes most people walk around not knowing they’re thirsty. “I think we’re meant to be more hydrated than we are. At minimum, we should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces. Ideally, we should drink our body weight in ounces of water every day.” -Jody Orr



Matt Leidecker soaking it up at Sheepeater Hot Springs, Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

The ancient Greeks would have felt right at home in Idaho with our abundance of geothermal pools. Renowned for their bathhouses (or spas) built into hillsides around natural hot springs, they used mineral water for relaxation, healing and, uh, socializing. As a therapeutic treatment, water has evolved dramatically over time. Following are a few ways you can experience its restorative properties locally:


 Ion Cleanse

If you’re in the market for a low-key detox, the Ion Cleanse is a great way to go. Laura Curd at ReSource Salon has been doing Ion Cleanses for the last eight years. A machine called an Array is placed in a tub of water next to your feet or hands, positively and negatively charging the water and drawing out your body’s toxins through osmosis. Says Curd, “It helps people detoxify in a very gentle way and lets the body alkalize positively without doing anything extreme.” A half-hour session is $30 and, according to Curd, can really help people with pain—particularly arthritis. “It’s a subtle change that makes a big difference over time.” 208.726.5760

Colon Cleanse

Dr. Maria Maricich, a holistic family doctor in Ketchum, offers her patients colon cleanses (not to be confused with colon hydrotherapy). Maricich recommends the “Arise and Shine Cleanse,” which requires a regimen of at least a week or, if you’re really dedicated, one month. The cleanse is a mix of water and herbs taken orally, and Maricich has seen great results. “With a colon cleanse, you eliminate all the things that are hard to digest while at the same time taking herbs.” A week’s worth of cleanse is $79, a month is $170. 208.726.6010


(balneum is Latin for bath), is the practice of using hot or cold water for relaxation or stimulation, much like the Greeks believed. It’s been used in the treatment of arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin issues like eczema and a myriad of other ailments. It’s believed that water temperature and minerals found in hot springs (such as magnesium and lithium) possess healing properties. The closest public hot spring to Ketchum is Frenchman’s Bend, about ten miles out Warm Springs Road. The pools average 124 degrees, require swimwear and are free. Easley Hot Springs, 14 miles north of Ketchum off Highway 75 at Cathedral Pines, are cooler, but more civilized, with a swimming pool temperature of 85 degrees and hot tubs at 98 degrees.

Dry Hydrotherapy

The HydroMassage bed was designed for people who like massage but don’t always have the time to invest in one. Erin Kelso at Ketchum Chiropractic describes it like this: “Really strong jets of warm water shoot up and hit the bottom of the table, massaging the spine, working to loosen up your muscles before or after a workout.” The bed can be used in conjunction with chiropractic as well. The first session is free; a ten-minute session is $10 and a five-time punch card is $50. 208.726.4555. -Jody Orr


Making friends with fish

There once was a time when driving 70 mph on a six-lane freeway while talking on a cell phone would have seemed far-fetched, not to mention dangerous. But learned behavior quickly becomes habit for many of us. And it’s that same human tendency that the Wood River Land Trust counted on when they introduced their Trout Friendly Lawn (TFL) program to the Valley four years ago.

Chronic drought conditions made it clear to Kathryn Goldman, who launched the program (she is currently campaign director for the Pesticide Action Network), that every time we turn on a garden hose or sprinkler system, we put pressure on the Big Wood River. TFL’s mission is simple: to change the way we see the river and the underground sources that feed it. The more water we use, the less water is in the river, and the warmer it becomes. Warmer water forces trout to leave the area in search of cooler temperatures. And nobody wants that.

TFL, based on a program developed in Missoula, Montana, pairs simple logic with science to inspire water conservation and the use of organic herbicides and pesticides amongst landowners who live near the river. By partnering with local landscape contractors, environmental groups and other concerned entities to encourage trout friendliness, the Land Trust has started a dialogue between homeowners and professionals, creating a kind of riparian détente in the process. “When it comes to our water resources in the arid West, and in the Big Wood River drainage, the future is about allocation. We’re going to have to make some choices. If we love our river, we’re going to have do the right things to preserve it,” explained Goldman. Hence, the Trout Friendly certification program was born. -Jody Orr

A peek beneath the water

From our lofty human perspective, streams are simple things. They carry water from one place to the next. They offer us places to quench our thirst, shores to sit a spell and ponder, holes for trout to hang out.

But we never see streams for what they really are: soggy, wedded partners with the world that hovers above them. “That’s the essence of science, to find those connections between the seemingly unconnected,” explained Bruce Medhurst, a staff researcher at the nation’s most-acclaimed mountain stream study facility, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory.

As Medhurst explained, as it is above the water, so it is below. Just as the sun feeds the grain that we boil into malt for beer, the sun also feeds a stream’s food web.

Algae feeds on sunlight while it clings to submerged rocks like seaweed. The algae also filters “nutrients” out of the water, stuff like fallen leaves and nitrates (primarily by-products of our homes, cars, power tools, etc.). The algae then become a wet buffet line for aquatic insect life. Mayflies, damselflies, stoneflies and their fellow invertebrates work their way from eggs to swimming midges and nymphs to flying terrestrial adults primarily by feasting on algae.

At some point during the process­—either while the bugs are bouncing off the bottom, dancing upon the surface or drifting in between­—the trout sip them up like children slurping milkshakes on a summer’s day. The trout, of course, then occasionally make meals for those outside the stream’s food web—critters higher up on the food chain, like bald eagles, osprey, blue herons and fishermen.

For a long time, though, that’s where the stream’s food web was believed to end. The water was one ecosystem, and the world it cast reflections of was another. But eventually, some curious scientists were able to finally start seeing the secret life of streams.
 “The picture is a lot bigger than we think. Everything is connected,” said Medhurst.

“It’s called a ‘trophic cascade.’ When you cut off something or add something new like an herbicide or fish species to a stream, it’s going to affect everything else. And as humans, it seems like we’re always adding something to streams,” explained Medhurst, who did his undergrad work at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which isn’t all that far from famous conservationist Aldo Leopold’s beloved Sand County.And as Medhurst pointed out, the more we learn about streams, the more sound Aldo Leopold’s advice seems: “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

-Mike McKenna

Local fly fishing and watersports camps offer veterans an opportunity to reconnect with their bodies and their spirits.

John Puletasi coasts across Pettit Lake.There is nothing remarkable about the scene: a fly fisherman stands knee-high in the cold water of an Idaho freestone stream. He is still, watching the current carry his dry fly downstream. The air is warm, filled with the identifiable streamside sweetness of cottonwood and horsemint. A slight breeze ruffles the willows on the bank, the only other sounds the occasional song of a red-winged blackbird, the background buzz of a bee.

It’s a scene that is replayed on streams and rivers throughout the Wood River Valley all summer long. And yet, for one group of fishermen—veterans recently returned from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan—the scene is miraculous. In lives that have been forever altered by debilitating injuries, the opportunity to be quiet, to focus, to rely, again, on their own bodies, is life-changing.

Higher Ground, a local non-profit organization dedicated to using sports and recreational activities as a means of healing, therapy, and rehabilitation for veterans coping with disabilities, runs two fly fishing camps and a watersports camp on local waters each year.

The camps offer veterans—or warriors, as they are referred to at Higher Ground—the opportunity to rediscover both their physical abilities within the new parameters created by their injuries and to recognize that they are part of a community.

Photos courtesy Sun Valley Adaptive Sports

Left to right: American hero Damien Jacobs enjoys the healing waters of the Salmon River; Jason Barefoot paddleboards at Pettit Lake; Luke Wilson angles for trout on the Big Wood River.

“I think many of the warriors really want to know that they’re not crazy and that they’re not alone. They want to know that they are capable and able, not only to do sports but to enter into new relationships and to feel what they could feel before their injuries,” says Higher Ground operations manager Kate Weihe.

At the fly fishing camps, warriors are sent out on day trips with professional guides from Silver Creek Outfitters; at the annual water sports camp, they spend five days at Pettit Lake, learning to use a sit-ski, a kayak and a canoe, and rafting down a day stretch of the Salmon River.

For Army veteran Sean Johnson, as for so many of the warriors, the Higher Ground experience was transformative. “Fly fishing is the first sport I’ve learned that I can truly do on my own,” Sean says. “For the first time since my injury, I was able to truly relax and enjoy myself.”

Higher Ground programs also offer caregivers an opportunity to relax and provide dedicated time for couples to spend together. “[The camp] gives couples the perfect setting to spend quality time and just really look at each other,” says Weihe. “They can remember why they fell in love and can realize that they are the same people after the injury and they just have to learn to communicate differently.”


For the warriors, reconnecting with their body and their spirit in this unique setting can remind them of the beauty and the honor in their chosen path, says Higher Ground program manager Sean McEntee: “Spending time on the water and going to the places in this Valley that are so magical lets these guys look around and think, This is why I went to war; this is what I’m fighting for.” -Diana Price

This article appears in the Summer 2011 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.