Alkaline Water Health Benefits
Alkaline water is a liquid darling praised by celebrities, health magazines and health conscious individuals. The purported benefits of alkaline water are numerous – it is believed to help maintain the alkaline-acid balance in the body, to boost the immune system, to increase physical performance, to detoxify the body, and it’s even suggested that it can help in the fight against cancer.
But is there any truth to these claims or are they mostly anecdotal? Is alkaline water healthy or it’s mostly a hyped-up product to justify the higher price tag? In this article, we set out to find out the truth behind the alleged benefits of alkaline water.
What Is Alkaline Water?
On the now famous pH scale, alkaline water measures above the neutral 7 mark, that is, water that has a pH level of 8 or above is considered alkaline. Water below 7 on the pH scale is considered acidic, and most tap waters will fall into this category.
Alkaline water is rich in alkalinising compounds such as calcium, silica, bicarbonate, calcium or potassium. Alkaline water can occur naturally or can be made by adding trace amounts of alkalising compounds to otherwise acidic water.
Also Read: What is the Best Water to Drink?
Alkaline Water Benefits – Truth or Not?
Next, let’s see some of the alleged benefits of alkaline water and whether there is any evidence to back them up.
Neutralises acidity in the body
Alkaline water is said to neutralise acidity in the body and to help maintain an optimal alkaline-acid balance. The human blood has a pH just above 7 (7.4), making it slightly alkaline. Maintaining that pH level is essential for the healthy functioning of our body, and our bodies are pretty adept at maintaining the optimal pH levels for each organ.
However, eating over-processed foods coupled with a predominantly meat-based diet contribute to an increase of acidity in our bodies and leads to chronic low-grade acidosis, which comes with a series of health issues of its own (metabolic problems, loss of bone, hormonal issues, etc.).
A study conducted in 2012 on the effects of pH 8.8 alkaline water in the treatment of acid reflux found that stomach acid and pepsin were effectively neutralised by water with a pH level of 8.8. As for the anti-acid effects of alkaline water on the entire body, there is no scientific consensus on the matter.
In any event, alkaline water cannot be considered a definitive treatment against acidity, but rather a way to manage symptoms, and perhaps a better way to avoid putting an acid load on our bodies is to make dietary changes, thus, eliminating the underlying issues that cause acidity in the first place.
Detoxifies & boosts the immune system
There aren’t any peer reviewed studies to confirm that alkaline water does indeed have anti-oxidant properties and immune kick-starter benefits. It is also questioned whether the alkalinity of water itself is the one responsible for these benefits or the minerals contained by alkaline water. The scientific community seems inclined to support the latter argument and further argues that a diet rich in alkaline fruits and vegetables is just as good – if not better – at detoxifying and strengthening your immune system.
Also Read: What is Detox Water?
Better hydration and increased physical performance
Thanks to the minerals present in alkaline water, your body may be better at retaining fluids in the cardiovascular system, thus, leading to improved fluid reserves. Minerals present in alkaline water can lower cardio-respiratory stress and blood lactate responses, which may be important to physically active people like athletes who want increased endurance.
Some small studies also suggest that alkaline water may present some disinfection properties that can help protect the gut from dangerous microorganisms. This is due to the negative oxidation-reduction properties that alkaline water is believed to have.
Another study conducted in rats with poor blood sugar control seems to suggest that alkaline water leads to lowered glycation levels and reduced liver damage. Increased glycation levels are associated with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Although one cannot extrapolate from animal studies to human health, it’s an avenue that seems promising.
As for alkaline water’s role in helping to cure or prevent cancer, there are no studies to back up these claims.
Overall, the studies that have been so far conducted are few, and the evidence lined up in favour of alkaline water is not definitive, and further studies need to be conducted to confirm or to dismiss the many benefits attributed to alkaline water.
Dangers of over-alkalinising
Just like drinking too much water can be dangerous, drinking too much alkaline water can also cause problems. Overdoing alkalinisation can cause the accumulation of minerals in the body in people with kidney conditions or who are on medications that may affect kidney function.
Other side effects of drinking water that is too alkaline includes nausea, vomiting, hand tremors, confusion, and tingling in the hands, feet or head.
Alkaline water may not have all the benefits many claim it has, but consuming slightly alkaline water is unlikely to cause any problems in otherwise healthy individuals. Because balance is key, it’s best to avoid consuming water that is highly alkaline or consume it in moderation.
Bottled alkaline spring water may not be your best choice when it comes to drinking alkaline water, mainly because the many disadvantaged associated with bottled water. If you don’t live next to an alkaline spring, your other options to make alkaline water include using a water ionizer or installing a water filter that has an alkaline filter cartridge.
Because reverse osmosis filters can produce acidic water, most of them are equipped with an alkaline filter cartridge that adds trace amount of minerals to your drinking water in the last stages of filtration. The Pure-Pro Quick Change 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Filter or the BMB-20 +Alkaline +Detox Pumped Quick Change 6 Stage Reverse Osmosis System both include an alkaline filter cartridge.
Reverse osmosis filters are not the only ones to contain an alkaline filter cartridge, the PurePro RS4000 carbon based filter also includes an alkaline filter cartridge.
Wrap-up: To alkalinise or not?
While the jury is still out on the beneficial effects of consuming alkaline water, we advise moderation. Alkaline water is no substitute to the healthy minerals and vitamins you can get from fruits and vegetables, and going overboard with alkalinisation is in no way conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
If your tap water is highly acidic, if you need a quick reflux relief, or you’re using a reverse osmosis system that can make your water too acidic, an alkaline filter can be beneficial.