What is alkaline water?
You may have heard some of the various health claims about alkaline water. Some say it can help slow the aging process, regulate your body’s pH level, and prevent chronic diseases like cancer. But what exactly is alkaline water, and why all the hype?
The “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level. The pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. For example, something with a pH of 1 would be very acidic, and something with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline.
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Because of this, some advocates of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in your body. Normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.
Does it really work?
Alkaline water is somewhat controversial. Many health professionals argue against its use, saying there isn’t enough research to support the many health claims made by users and sellers. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular water is best for most people, as there is no scientific evidence that fully verifies the claims made by supporters of alkaline water.
However, there are a few studies that suggest alkaline water might be helpful for certain conditions.
Another study suggested that drinking alkaline water may have benefits for people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
A more recent study that included 100 people found a significant difference in whole blood viscosity after consuming high pH water compared to regular water after a strenuous workout. Viscosity is the direct measurement of how blood flows through the vessels. Those who consumed high pH water reduced viscosity by 6.3 percent compared to 3.36 percent with standard purified drinking water. This means blood flowed more efficiently with alkaline water. This can increase oxygen delivery throughout out the body.
A 2010 study published in “The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine,” titled “Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water” concluded that their test subjects who drank alkaline water showed an improved acid-base balance and hydration status compared to tap water.
Some studies suggest that alkaline water may help slow bone loss, but further investigation is needed to determine if this influences overall bone mineral density and if the benefit is maintained over the long term.
However, more research is needed beyond these small studies, specifically into some of the other claims made by alkaline water supporters.
Despite the lack of proven scientific research, proponents of drinking alkaline water still believe in its many proposed health benefits, which include:
- anti-aging properties (via liquid antioxidants that absorb more quickly into the human body)
- colon-cleansing properties
- immune system support
- hydration, skin health, and other detoxifying properties
- weight loss
- cancer resistance
Possible side effects and risks of alkaline water
Although alkaline drinking water is considered safe, it may produce negative side effects.
Some examples of negative side effects include the lowering of natural stomach acidity, which helps kill bacteria and expel other undesirable pathogens from entering your bloodstream.
Additionally, an overall excess of alkalinity in the body may cause gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations. Too much alkalinity may also agitate the body’s normal pH, leading to metabolic alkalosis, a condition that may produce the following symptoms:
- hand tremors
- muscle twitching
- tingling in the extremities or face
Alkalosis can also cause a decrease in free calcium in the body, which can affect bone health. However, the most common cause of hypocalcemia is not from drinking alkaline water, but from having an underactive parathyroid gland.
kidney condition and minerals in alkaline water:
if someone has a kidney condition, or is taking a medication that alters kidney function, some of the minerals in alkaline water(alkaline bottled water) could start to accumulate in the body. For these people, high alkalinity might lead to negative side effects.
Natural or artificial?
Water that is naturally alkaline occurs when water passes over rocks — like springs — and picks up minerals, which increase its alkaline level.
However, many people who drink alkaline water buy alkaline water that’s been through a chemical process called electrolysis, which uses a product called an ionizer to raise the pH of regular water. Makers of ionizers say that electricity is used to separate molecules in the water that are more acidic or more alkaline, and that the acidic water is then funneled out. Still, some doctors and researchers say these claims are not backed by quality research.
Naturally-occurring mineral water contains alkalizing compounds, such as calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate.
Spring water with naturally occurring minerals seems to be the healthiest type of alkaline water source. “A good source of alkaline water is spring water — usually a pH of 8 to 8.5 — that naturally becomes alkaline by acquiring minerals as it passes over rocks,” according to Lawrence Wilson, M.D., who specializes in nutritional balancing at the Center For Development in Arizona.
You can purchase water ionizing machines, but Wilson advises against them, because the machines simply use titanium or platinum to make water alkaline, and they don’t introduce the natural minerals the body requires.
A study published by the World Health Organization cautions against drinking water with low mineral content on a regular basis.