Study: Filtered Tap Water Might Actually Make You Smarter

Oct 06, 2014 at 4:36 PM ET

Forget Smart Water. There’s only one H20 that might really boost your brain power: filtered tap.

According to a new study by Chinese biology and environment experts, drinking filtered tap water might be important for improving child development and memory. Experts found that filtered tap water, as opposed to water straight from the tap or bottled, was the richest in essential minerals and the lowest in contaminant levels.

Researchers in China fed two generations of rats five different types of water: unfiltered tap, filtered tap, purified bottled, artificial mineralized bottled and natural bottled. Rat pups whose mothers drank the filtered tap displayed the best spatial learning and memory. The Morris water maze was used to access their learning curve: They had to find their way out of a water tank using specific cues. Apparently, the rats filled with filtered water found their way just a bit more efficiently than the other rats.

Despite these findings, some experts feel there’s not much difference between unfiltered and filtered tap. Most people who are filtering their water probably don’t need to, according to Robert Jackson, professor of environmental earth system science at Stanford University. “In reality, the vast majority of America has terrific tap water,” he says. “People who buy bottled water are paying more for a product that is at best equal to tap water and sometimes even worse.” Nearly one quarter of bottled water is essentially just tap anyway, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found.

No matter the facts, picky tasters will likely stick with their favorite varietal. Self-proclaimed “water sommeliers” are super trending along with a steep rise in “gourmet water,” or international packaged water, Fox News reports. Some menus now feature dozens of waters from around the globe, with each clear liquid touting its own subtle flavor.

But if tap water and artisanal H20 are pretty much the same thing, it might be best for the earth, your brain and your wallet to filter and call it a day. All that healthful filtered tap water might soon help you realize how much money you’d been wasting on those special-edition Fiji bottles anyway.