In case you haven’t heard, alkaline water is all the rage these days. And why not? It’s delicious, nutritious, and full of amazing health benefits that regular tap water just can’t deliver.
Or is it?
Alternative health gurus and millions of Americans praise it for its life-enriching powers, but many say it’s just a bogus health claim. Here is the truth about its benefits, potential downsides, and chemical makeup so you can make a decision for yourself.
Alkaline Water: Why the Controversy?
What if there were a way to help get rid of acid reflux, be flush with more vibrant energy, promote faster weight loss, and enrich your life with antioxidants known to fight aging and disease? Those are the purported benefits of alkaline water according to certain studies and thousands of anecdotal experiences.
But what exactly is it? Is it a modern super-health wonder drug or just a bogus hoax like some would claim?
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Evidence exists to suggest that water with a lower acidity does, in fact, provide health benefits, just not for everyone.
We’ve found a lot of misleading, unsubstantiated information across the web that either misrepresented benefits of or unfairly discredited high-pH water. That’s why we wanted to bring you the truth about alkaline water.
What is Alkaline Water?
Let’s jump in a time machine and head back to high school chem 101.
First: What is the pH Scale?
The pH (potential hydrogen) scale is a numerical measure of the acidity of a liquid. The scale ranges from 1-14, with lower numbers being more acidic (1-6) and higher numbers (8-14) being more alkaline. All liquids fall somewhere on this scale.
Definition – Alkaline Water: water that has a higher pH than regular water, hence the term alkaline. It is less acidic than normal drinking water, which is where the majority of its benefits stem from. It is rich in compounds not normally found in neutral water (we cover what that is below) like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Understanding Regular Drinking Water
The regular water that comes out of your tap is a 7 on the pH scale. It is totally neutral. That’s important for human health because our bodies naturally have a pH of around 7.4. Our bodies are locked in a constant struggle to balance their need for acid (for example, with digestion) and alkalinity.
Drinking a healthy amount of water is obviously a vital part of maintaining regular body health….which begs the question: is alkaline water better than regular tap water?
The Benefits of Drinking Alkaline Water
In theory, consuming water with higher alkalinity will fight back against the acid in your body and help stabilize your health systems while enriching them with healthy compounds not found in natural drinking water.
Also, even clean tap water can easily be compromised and be home to dangerous viruses or chemicals.
Did you know?: 63 million Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water?
Numerous studies point to there being tangible benefits to drinking alkaline water; however, firm scientific evidence is still lacking. It will take some time for the community to come to a firm stance. Still, thousands of people have experienced benefits, and studies have shown promising results.
Let’s examine the theoretical benefits of consuming high-alkaline water:
- Feel More Energetic: Alkaline water has lower surface tension than regular water, meaning our bodies can absorb it more quickly and speed it off to the cells that need it the most. This means that it allows people to retain more fluid throughout the day. Many who drink it, including athletes (more on athletic benefits below), claim to feel more energetic and far less lethargic throughout the day. This is one of the main reasons proponents love it as a weight-loss mechanism.
- A Healthier Gut: Do you have chronic stomach pains? Higher-pH water can protect you from dangerous microorganisms in your gut due to its negative oxidation-reduction potential (ORP).
- Soothe Your Acid Reflux: A higher pH level will help kill Pepsin, the enzyme mainly responsible for acid reflux. One study from the US National Library of Medicines even confirmed this benefit of alkaline water.
- Stay Younger, Live Longer: Alkaline water is rich in antioxidants, or substances that counteract cell damage. Antioxidants are linked to everything from prevention of heart disease to anti-aging.
- Protection From Contaminated Water: As with all forms of bottled or filtered water, it protects you from the many contaminants commonly found in tap water. The water from your tap is almost always safe to drink, but you can never be 100% certain.
- Alzheimer’s and Diabetes*: These are very controversial claims, but preliminary studies in rats have shown promising results on the effects of ionized water in terms of lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Ionized water seems to lower glycation levels, which are responsible for sugar molecules binding to proteins or fats (the causes of the diseases). Rats are not humans, however, so these claims are questionable at best.
Who SHOULD Drink Alkaline Water?
In general, the scientific community is asking the public to hold off on going crazy over it as a miracle cure, but there are certain groups of people that benefit from drinking alkaline water.
- Athletes: Athletes are quickly discovering the energy drink-like powers of balancing your pH. As you strain your muscles exercising, acids and CO2 are produced, causing your pH to drop. This is what makes us feel fatigued. Drinking water that balances your pH helps you remain hydrated and stave off muscle fatigue. Mineral substances have also proven to increase power output in athletes. There is evidence that people who drink alkaline water over an extended period have better hydration in their cardiovascular systems.
- People in High-Risk Areas: If your water runs a high risk of being contaminated (such as well water), then drinking filtered water is always a good idea, especially if it contains vital minerals. It’s common for reverse osmosis water not to contain vital nutrients.
- People with Acid Reflux: We covered this before, but people with acid reflux may feel the benefits more than others.
- Inactive People: If you do not exercise, consuming more high-pH water will provide more obvious benefits. Normally, people who do not exercise will have an altered pH level. If you have a diet high in processed-foods or are particularly inactive, this kind of refreshment may help you be more active and lose weight faster.
Who SHOULD NOT Drink Alkaline Water
Again, scientific evidence is far from conclusive, but people with kidney issues should not drink alkaline water. The kidneys work hard to maintain a pH balance, and if they are already deficient, the extra work is not good for them. Also, some minerals may begin to accumulate that could further inhibit their function.
Where to Buy Alkaline Water
If you are intrigued by the benefits, then it’s relatively easy and affordable to either buy alkaline water in a bottle or make it yourself at home through the tap using a machine called a water ionizer.
The best alkaline bottled water brands you can find in the store are Essentia (9.5!) and Fiji (7.5).
Water Ionizer: A water ionizer is a home appliance that turns tap water into alkaline water. It does this separating the incoming water into separate alkaline and acidic components.
Summary: Is Alkaline Water Worth it?
Just because the scientific jury hasn’t reached a verdict doesn’t mean the benefits of alkaline water aren’t real. However, it remains to be seen just how beneficial it is. What we do know is that a great deal of scientific and anecdotal evidence exists that shows it has powerful health benefits. At the very least, it is far safer than tap water. At best, it contains powerful health benefits that give you more energy, better overall health, and safer drinking water.
Now that you know what alkaline water is and what its benefits are, you should give it a try. Pick some up at your local store or give a water ionizer a try so you don’t ever have to spend money on bottled water again.