All About Alkaline Water
What are the benefits and drawbacks of alkaline water? We look at the health claims and medical studies surrounding this unique type of water.
There are a lot of voices out there claiming that alkaline water can help you fight common issues like acid reflux, dry skin, stiff muscles, and more. Celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Mark Wahlberg swear by alkaline water.
But are the many claims valid or bogus or somewhere in between? Let”s take a closer look.
What the Heck Is Alkaline Water?
What is alkaline water exactly? Here's the breakdown. When most people talk about "alkaline," they're referring to the pH level of the water.
A pH level is a special number that lets you know how alkaline (aka basic) or acidic an organic substance is on a simple scale of 0 to 14.
For instance, something that has a pH level of 1 would have a lot of acidity, while something that has a high pH level of 13 would be extremely alkaline.
Regular drinking water typically has a neutral pH level of around 7, while alkaline water is generally at 8 or 9, thus giving the water its name.
Besides a higher pH level, there are two more ingredients needed to make alkaline water:
- Alkaline minerals
- Negative oxidation-reduction potential
Wait, what's that second one? To put it simply, it's when the water has a ton of antioxidants in it. Our rule of thumb is that the lower the oxidation-reduction potential value, the more antioxidants it has.
Claimed Benefits of Drinking Alkaline Water
By now, you may be asking yourself if there are any benefits to drinking alkaline water that have been backed by legitimate medical studies? That's the million-dollar question.
One study conducted several years ago found that alkaline water with a pH level of 8.8 can help dissolve pepsin, that annoying enzyme that gives you acid reflux. Score one for alkaline water.
Other studies have suggested that alkaline water can contribute to lowered cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure; reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline; and improved acid-base balance.
But, it's important to note that these studies haven't established a definite causal link between alkaline water and these benefits.
Advocates of alkaline water also claim that it can:
- Neutralize acid in your body
- Fight aging with its absorbent liquid antioxidants
- Clean out your body's digestive system
- Strengthen your body's immune system
- Hydrate, rejuvenate, and detoxify your skin
- Help you lose weight
- Combat carcinogens in your body
Again, though, the medical and scientific communities have declared that there simply isn't enough research to verify any of these claims.
Potential Side Effects of Drinking Alkaline Water
Even though it's safe to drink alkaline water, there are still some negative effects that you should keep in mind. For example, some people have reported a lowered stomach acidity after consuming alkaline water.
Also, drinking too much alkaline water could disrupt your body's natural pH level and potentially lead to a condition called metabolic alkalosis. This, however, would require a lot of alkaline water.
Finally, people with kidney conditions or those who are taking kidney medications shouldn't drink alkaline water because, without proper kidney function, the minerals could start to accumulate in their bodies and reach unhealthy levels.
Is Alkaline Water Natural?
The answer is simple: some is and some isn't. Natural alkaline water is made when a stream of spring water crosses over a bed of rocks and collects certain minerals that increase the water's alkalinity.
However, when people buy alkaline water, it's usually been processed through something called electrolysis, a chemical technique that uses an ionizer to increase the pH levels of normal water.
Essentially, the ionizer works to separate the acidic water molecules from the basic ones. Once that process is complete, the acidic water is filtered out from the batch, giving you (drum roll) alkaline water.
Scientists have emphasized that it's all about the quality of the water before the electrolysis process because the water may or may not have certain contaminants that could taint the water. Some professionals recommend filtering water before sending it through an ionizer.
Where Can You Buy Alkaline Water?
Alkaline water can pretty much be purchased anywhere, including your local health-food shop or supermarket. Of course, you can always buy alkaline water online as well (because, let's face it, you can buy pretty much anything online).
If you want to try making alkaline water at home, you can buy ionizers at most major retailers or online stores too. You might find this a fun process that's much cheaper than buying bottled alkaline water, which could save you money in the long run.
The Decision Is Yours
All of the medical professionals we read while researching this article concluded that alkaline water offers no more benefit than ordinary tap water.
But, now that you're armed with more information, you can do more of your own research and decide if alkaline water is something you want to try.
If you choose to buy an ionizer and want to filter your water first, check out our article on whole-home filtration systems.
WaterZen exists to improve your family's health by making information about the water you drink more accessible, straightforward, and easy-to-understand. We do this by providing clear, simple water-quality information for your area based on data from your local water provider, unbiased comparisons, health standards, and expert opinions.
The way we see it, when you're informed about the quality of your water and then empowered to protect your family (and your community), you've achieved "water zen".