Alkaline water hype has been on the rise over the past few years in the busy market of bottled drinks and fad diets.
You might have heard of or even seen alkaline water products available from multiple companies at your local supermarket.
Let’s examine what alkaline water is, the possible benefits, and if there are positive effects that match the hype.
Table of Contents
- What is Alkaline Water?
- Is alkaline water good for you?
- What are the Benefits of Alkaline Water?
- What are the Health Risks if You Drink Alkaline Water?
- Where to Get Alkaline Water?
- How to Make Alkaline Water?
- Should You Drink Alkaline Water?
What is Alkaline Water?
Alkaline refers to the pH level of water.
Basic science tells us that pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with low numbers considered acidic and high numbers considered basic or alkaline. Learn more at the USGS.
The normal pH level of tap water is a neutral pH of 7 and anything higher than a pH level of 8 is considered “alkaline.”
A higher pH is achieved by the presence of beneficial minerals dissolved in the water.
Another property of this type of water is negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP). Negative ORP means the water has a high antioxidizing property. Physicians tend to agree that antioxidants are important.
Alkaline Water vs. Mineral Water
In many ways, mineral and alkaline water are the same!
They both contain minerals that are supposed to be good for you and people drink them for health purposes instead of regular tap water.
Where they differ is in the ingredients. Mineral water can have any number of mineral components (including sodium) and will likely have a pH of 7 or greater.
Alkaline water will certainly have a pH of 8 or higher with minerals that lead to a negative ORP.
Is alkaline water good for you?
There is controversy over how much alkaline drinking water can benefit your health and wellness and the information will vary from different sources. Facts are hard to come by.
There is data that both prove and disprove that alkaline drinking water is good for you.
However, there have been multiple research studies with results that show a link between alkaline water and improvements for some health conditions and diseases.
One study found that drinking naturally carbonated artesian-well alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help people with acid reflux. Another study suggested that drinking alkaline ionized water may have benefits to people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. A newer study that included 100 people found a significant difference in whole blood viscosity after consuming high-pH water compared to regular water.
Claims from sources like the Mayo Clinic state that there is not enough evidence to support the science behind the advertised benefits.
Studies aside, many people believe that consuming too many acidic drinks (like soda) that also have a high positive ORPs can lead to health problems. They argue that drinking the opposite (alkaline and negative ORPs) must be beneficial.
Proponents of eating alkaline foods and following an alkaline diet follow a similar logic.
What are the Benefits of Alkaline Water?
Let us examine the many possible health benefits as listed by healthline.com.
Doctors support claims that alkaline water can delay the aging process by hydrating the body and by removing free radicals. Antioxidants are substances that prevent damage to cells by free radicals.
Cleanses the Colon
The colon is one of the parts of the body that need constant hydration to function properly.
Alkaline water promotes a high pH environment in the colon which is ideal for the growth of probiotics. Good bacteria are important to effectively extract nutrition from the food you eat.
The mineral content (calcium and magnesium) has a laxative effect and help eliminate waste from the colon, thus reducing the risk of colon cancer.
Hydrates the Body
Studies show that alkaline water reduces blood viscosity more than regular water. The lower the blood viscosity in the body, the better the level of hydration.
Proper hydration and flushing toxins from your body can keep your skin healthy.
Alkaline water is more effective at these two functions since it has higher hydrogen levels than plain water making it easier for cells to absorb.
The nutrients present in alkaline water can effectively remove toxins from the organs in your body.
Promotes Weight Loss
According to statistics, if combined with proper nutrition and exercise, drinking alkaline water can boost the effectiveness of your weight loss program.
Immune System Support
The acid-alkaline balance in our bodies is an important component to overall good health.
Since viruses and bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, raising pH to an alkaline level increases your immune system’s ability to resist infection.
Some claim that cancer can be prevented or even cured by maintaining an alkaline diet and limiting an acidic environment that helps cancer cells grow.
High carbon dioxide in the bloodstream is associated with a more acidic environment. An imbalance of the pH can contribute to other issues.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as acid reflux) is caused by high levels of the enzyme pepsin. There is evidence that an alkaline pH inactivates pepsin and reduces acid reflux.
Increases Energy Levels
There is health information that shows how high levels of acids can lower energy levels in the human body.
Alkaline water can increase pH levels and reduce acidity in the body overall.
Studies show that calcium-rich alkaline water can reduce the rate of bone loss and improve bone health.
In particular, levels of the bone loss markers PTH and S-CTX are greatly reduced with calcium-rich water.
What are the Health Risks if You Drink Alkaline Water?
Evidence shows that drinking alkaline water combined with eating a balanced food diet can lead to various health benefits.
There are also side effects and health problems that can threaten your safety if acid levels are far out of balance towards alkalinity.
If you have a diagnosis or disease due to high alkaline levels in the body, seek advice from health professionals about proper treatments that will balance your internal acidity.
Too much alkalinity in the body can cause damage to your gastrointestinal tract and lead to various conditions including cancer.
Excessive alkaline levels in the body can cause skin issues.
High levels of alkalinity will cause alkalosis or high pH in the body. The symptoms of this include the following:
- hand tremors
- muscle twitching
- face or extremities tingling
Where to Get Alkaline Water?
Natural alkaline water is made when water flowing through rocks or springs is mixed with mineral-rich substances present in the earth’s crust.
There are bottled alkaline waters available on the market that are either natural or man-made.
It is not realistic for a lot of people, especially those living in the city, to find a natural spring for a glass of alkaline water.
If you are interested in testing the health claims and supportive research, the best options are to buy bottled alkaline water at your local supermarket or to make your own.
There is no “best alkaline water” but a range of options with very similar benefits.
How to Make Alkaline Water?
There are tips online that say you can mix baking soda with tap water to create your own alkaline water, but it is not very effective.
Electrolysis is a water treatment that produces alkaline water.
An ionizer is a device that changes water using the process of electrolysis or ionization. Water ionizers come in several forms.
Many home water filtration systems either come with or can have an alkaline filtration stage added.
These special filters will add beneficial natural minerals to the filtered water and make it more alkaline.
What is an Alkaline Filter?
An alkaline filter is a special water filter that introduces alkaline remineralization into the water supply.
Its function is to raise the water pH by mixing it with specific mineral ingredients that are beneficial to your body and health.
Filtered Water + Remineralization
Due to the number and range of contaminants in most water supplies, it is beneficial to have a water filter for your home.
These systems will remove most of the harmful pollutants including toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and living microorganisms.
While a TDS measurement of your water will give an indication of the mineral content, it does not show pH levels.
Unfortunately, many filtration systems (including reverse osmosis) will remove all the beneficial particles from the water including any naturally occurring minerals.
In a reverse osmosis system with a remineralization stage, after the water passes through the RO filter, it then passes through the alkaline filter where minerals are added back, and the pH is increased.
Should You Drink Alkaline Water?
Your quality of your life is a balance between the healthy inputs you can control and the unhealthy inputs you get from your diet and the environment.
Study your own health and test whether the addition of alkaline water helps.
Unless you push for a drastic, over-alkaline state in your body, alkaline water is safe and may help improve your wellbeing.