By Rehan Iqbal
Marketers of bottled alkaline water want us to believe that it is the greatest thing to come along in our lifetime. With celebrity endorsements, doctors claiming miracle cures, and extensive hype on social media platforms, alkaline water has become a hot, and somewhat contested topic.
Adequate hydration is the cornerstone of good health. Water is a basic need for all living organisms. When something as simple, and essential, as water becomes a billion dollar industry, it becomes difficult to distinguish between ambitious marketing campaigns and the truth.
The health benefits of alkaline have received much publicity and some critical scrutiny. Early research from around 1998 to 2000 suggested that there are no real health benefits to drinking alkaline water. However, as public interest has increased, more research has been conducted into the matter, and it has become apparent that there are many health benefits.
Every shred of scientific data, proving that alkaline water has numerous health benefits, has been presented to us in blogs, videos, and social media campaigns. The dangers of drinking alkaline water has not received as much publicity. This information does not bode well for the bottled water companies.
In this article, I want to present the other side of the story. As a result, I set out to find the answers to some very important questions. Can alkaline water be bad for you? Can everyone drink alkaline water? What are the dangers of drinking alkaline water?
Because there really isn’t enough evidence available to make an accurate assessment of the all benefits or dangers related to drinking alkaline water, some of the risks and advantages are more speculative than actual scientific facts. While some research has been conducted, a lot more needs to be done in order for us to make an informed decision.
In Japan, where more research has been done than in any other country, alkaline water has actually been adopted as a treatment for some stomach disorders. However, this treatment is done by doctors who have a good understanding of both the benefits and risks of drinking alkaline water.
If you have a medical condition that could be affected by consuming alkaline water, you should consult your doctor before making a decision to use alkaline water. For most people, there aren’t any real risks. There are, however, some instances where drinking alkaline water could be dangerous or , at the very least, not entirely beneficial. I decided to explore this topic to find out exactly who can and who cannot drink alkaline water.
PH and the Human Body
Potential for Hydrogen (PH) measures acidity or alkalinity. The PH scale ranges form 0 to 14. In the center of the scale (PH 7) indicates neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline. Moving down the scale (below PH 7) acidity increases. A higher PH means alkaline.
Our bodies have natural mechanisms that control PH, maintaining a neutral balance of around 7 to 7.5. This means that a normal healthy person will obtain a healthy PH balance regardless of what we eat or drink. A healthy diet will only make it easier for the body to regulate PH.
Our PH is controlled by the lungs and kidneys. Since our kidneys rely on water to function properly, it is logical to deduce that drinking alkaline water will have the greatest effect on the kidneys. This means that the risks and benefits of drinking alkaline water is of greatest relevance to people suffering from kidney disorders and renal failure.
How our Diet Affects PH
Everything we eat and rink will contribute to either increasing or decreasing the amount of acid in our blood. The American diet, high in protein and processed food, tends to be highly acidic. This means that our kidneys have to work harder to maintain a healthy PH balance.
Based on this basic evaluation, we would assume that drinking alkaline water should be a good thing. If our diet is more acidic, alkaline water should help restore the balance, right? For the most part, this is true.
In the end, following a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to ensure that our bodies maintain a healthy PH.
This is true for people with a healthy metabolism. What if our kidneys are unable to manage PH?
The Effects of Alkaline Water on the Kidneys
I’m hesitant to make any suggestions for people who suffer from kidney disease with regards to the benefits and risks of drinking alkaline water. While I’ve done a lot of research into the effects of alkaline water on the kidneys, information on the topic is limited. Besides, I’m not a medical expert. I can only relate what I’ve read in research documents relating to alkaline water and the effect it has on our kidneys.
The only clinical evidence regarding alkaline water and kidney disease that I could find (Institute for Frontier Science, Oakland, CA), concluded that patients with renal failure and kidney disease should benefit from drinking alkaline water. However, this does not apply to all types of kidney disease. It has been suggested that for certain types of kidney failure, where the body is unable to restore healthy acidity, alkaline water can be dangerous.
Kidney dysfunction can cause acidosis (increased acid) or alkalosis (increased alkaline). It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis on your kidney condition to ascertain whether drinking alkaline water will be good or bad for you.
Who Should Avoid Drinking Alkaline Water?
If you have any type of kidney disease, you should ask your doctor before drinking alkaline water. While it could be beneficial for some patients, other may be putting their health at risk. Only your doctor can determine whether it is a good idea to drink alkaline water.
Bathing in alkaline water is not particularly dangerous but can cause irritation of the skin and eyes.
Apart from some kidney conditions, drinking alkaline water is completely harmless. In fact, the benefits of drinking alkaline water are numerous. In recent times, research into the health effects of drinking water has increased. Most of the scientific data has proven that alkaline water is extremely beneficial.
A lot of scientific evidence exists, proving that drinking alkaline water is good for you. Unfortunately, very little has been done to research the dangers of drinking alkaline water. Even the risks for people with kidney disease are not clearly defined.
Possible Side Effects of Drinking Alkaline Water
While most of us will only experience positive health effects from drinking alkaline water, there are instances where it may not be entirely beneficial. Below, is a list of cautions we should observe:
It should be noted that the possible risks mentioned here have not been proven or published in any medical journal. Like some of the benefits, these potential side effects have merely been suggested as a possibility. Hopefully, more medical research will help us determine if these (or any other) risks and side effects of drinking alkaline water are actually valid.
The only real health risk associated with drinking alkaline water exists for people who have certain types of kidney disease. Conversely, it can also be beneficial for most types of kidney disease. If you have any type of kidney disease, you should speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of drinking alkaline water.
There is speculation that alkaline water my have some other side effects. However, these are purely speculative, as no actual medical tests have been conducted to prove (or disprove) these theories.
Since the modern diet is highly acidic, the general consensus is that alkaline water can only be a good thing for most of us. There is a lot of conclusive scientific evidence that drinking alkaline water is beneficial for many conditions which include, high blood pressure, stroke prevention, diabetes, acid reflux disease, and several others.
I’m of the opinion that most of us will benefit from drinking alkaline water. If your doctor has recommended an alkaline diet, you should defiantly consider alkaline water as an important part of this diet. In general, the negative ORP of alkaline water is beneficial to everyone, it only improves our health and longevity.
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