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Is Alkaline Water Good for You?

Water is a fundamental necessity. Everyone needs a certain amount of it per day. Meeting that need comes partially from the food we eat, but more often it’s from simply drinking water. But are certain types of water better than others? Specific types of water are now marketed to promote the perceived health benefits they provide. 

One of the most popular types of water in recent years has been alkaline water, which is touted for its perceived health benefits. Health claims for alkaline water suggest that it can help with acid reflux, the appearance of your skin, detoxification, hydration and much more. But do these claims match up to reality? And is alkaline water good for you? Let’s explore this topic in greater detail to uncover whether alkaline water is worth the premium.

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water is water that has a higher pH level than the normal water you drink. The pH scale is used to assess how acidic or basic a substance is. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 and is a measurement of a substance’s hydrogen ion concentration. 

Substances with a pH value of 0 are very acidic, while substances with a pH of 14 are very alkaline or basic. Alkaline substances are the opposite of their more acidic counterparts on the pH scale. Lemon juice is fairly acidic with a pH of 2, while ammonia is a moderately basic substance with a pH of around 11. Pure water is considered neutral and has a pH of 7 which is exactly in the center of the pH scale. The ph of tap water will be close to 7 but may be slightly higher depending on the presence of minerals. Many water suppliers also adjust the pH of the water to avoid corrosion in their distribution system.

The alkaline water you find on the shelves in your local health food store will typically have a pH of around 8-9. Some water is naturally alkaline. Natural alkalinity occurs due to high mineral content in the water. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and salts are more basic and affect the water’s pH levels.

Alkaline water can also be manufactured through a process known as electrolysis. In electrolysis, an electrical current is put through the water in order to produce ions that are positively and negatively charged. Positively charged ions are more acidic, so they are removed from the water to produce water with a higher pH. Additional minerals and salts can be added to the water to further increase the alkalinity of the water, as well as add some taste.

Lastly, some individuals make alkaline water in their own homes. This is done by adding baking soda or mineral salts to the water. This is sometimes done by performance athletes to provide a perceived hydration benefit for activities that require a large amount of effort, similar to how many athletes consume sports drinks to aid in hydration. Drinking alkaline water is said to have greater benefits compared to drinking regular water. 

What are the Perceived Health Benefits Associated with Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water isn’t anything new. The health benefits of alkaline water have been touted for a very long time. This article from February 19th, 1884 in the San Diego Union and Daily Bee recounts research suggesting that alkaline water helps with a “torpid liver”. This Practical Health Tip from the Chico Record in 1916 argues that a cornerstone of effective gallstone treatment requires three glasses of alkaline water each day between meals.

Modern marketing for alkaline water remains focused on the perceived health benefits that it provides. Alkaline water is now marketed as offering superior hydration, more energy, reduced acid reflux, better long-term bone health, weight loss and even protection against certain types of cancer

At the heart of these claims is the idea that the alkalinity in the water you are consuming will counteract any acidity in your blood. The argument that alkaline water may help with cancer is centered on the premise that cancer will more readily grow in an acidic environment, which results in the body from a modern diet. However, a meta-analysis of research studies on the anti-cancer effects of a diet high in alkaline failed to find any research to support this assertion.

Some of the health claims associated with alkaline water are loosely based on existing research. For example, the claim that alkaline water may help reduce acid reflux is founded upon the idea that the alkalinity in water will counteract the acidity in foods, thereby easing digestion and reducing acid reflux. One research study found that when alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 was added to the digestive enzyme pepsin it deactivated it. However, there’s no evidence that actually occurs in our bodies. Further research would need to be done on human subjects to determine the extent to which, if any, alkaline water actually reduced acid reflux.

One of the major hurdles to credibility for claims of the health benefits of alkaline water is the fact that the pH of our blood is highly regulated by our own bodies. Our bodies regulate our internal pH primarily through our lungs and kidneys. Healthy individuals with functioning lungs and kidneys maintain a blood pH of 7.35 to 7.45. When we eat foods or beverages that are more acidic or alkaline than our bodies, the acids in our stomach or the secretions of alkaline from our pancreas work to create a balanced pH. Put another way, our bodies automatically neutralize acidic or alkaline foods and beverages when they are consumed. 

Is Alkaline Water Bad for You?

While alkaline water may not deliver on its promised health benefits, it isn’t necessarily bad for you. The alkalinity in the water you consume will be neutralized when it is consumed. Natural alkaline water contains minerals and salts, which may provide a health benefit if your diet is nutrient deficient. Not all alkaline water contains minerals. Ionized alkaline water may not contain any minerals at all depending on how it has been processed.

One potential risk with alkaline water is that it isn’t necessarily filtered. This can pose a very real risk by exposing you to unwanted contaminants. To avoid consuming potentially harmful contaminants, consider seeking out drinking water sources that have undergone filtration such as reverse osmosis (RO) filtered water. 

What to Drink Instead of Alkaline Water

While alkaline water may not deliver on its health promises if you’re concerned about the health impact of the water you drink there are great options available. The best option is to filter your own water with a reverse osmosis filtration system. Reverse osmosis is the process of forcing water through a semipermeable barrier that contains very small pores. These pores allow water molecules to pass through, but keep out any larger contaminants.

RO systems produce some of the most consistently clean, filtered drinking water while still remaining accessible and affordable for use in a home or business. Here are a few of the core benefits of an RO system when compared to alkaline or other bottled water:

  • Lower Cost – Filtering your own water will significantly reduce how much you are spending on drinking water. Bottled water is sold at prices 200 – 10,000 times that of tap water, and it is often just filtered tap water. Alkaline water is sold a premium that is even higher than normal tap water because of its perceived health benefits. RO systems allow you to filter any remaining contaminants out of your tap water. Your tap water is very, very cheap when compared to bottled water, and RO systems require an initial investment but low ongoing expenses. This allows you to reduce how much you are spending on drinking water, while still having access to tens of gallons of great-tasting, filtered drinking water.
  • Less Waste Alkaline water is typically sold in plastic bottles, which leads to massive amounts of waste entering the environment every year. One of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of your drinking water is to filter your own tap water at home and use reusable bottles when you leave the house.
  • Fewer ContaminantsIf you want consistently fewer contaminants in your drinking water there’s no better option than a reverse osmosis filtration system in your home. RO systems are excellent for removing a wide range of contaminants from drinking water, including microbes such as protozoa, viruses, bacteria, as well as contaminants like arsenic, sulfates, nitrates, and other chemical contaminants. Alongside these unwanted substances, RO systems typically include activated carbon pre- and post-filters, which remove disinfectants like chlorine in water and other substances or chemicals which alter the taste of your drinking water. San diego tap water contains disinfection byproducts like bromate and chlorite, which can also be removed using a home water filtration system.

Closing Thoughts

Though alkaline water has been highly touted for its health effects for over a century now, there remains a lack of conclusive scientific studies to back up those claims. While there are no clear links between alkaline water and positive health benefits, there are some drawbacks you should keep in mind. Foremost among these is the significant cost associated with alkaline water, as well as the waste that accompanies drinking bottled water. Alongside these downsides, you may be exposed to unwanted contaminants since alkaline water isn’t necessarily purified.

If you are concerned about the health impact of the water you are drinking, seek out sources of water that have been filtered for contaminants. One of the most effective ways to save money on your drinking water while protecting yourself and your family from contaminants in your drinking water is to install a reverse osmosis filtration system in your home. Reverse osmosis systems are highly effective at producing tens of gallons of clean, filtered drinking water each day. Compared with bottled water, filtering your own water will reduce your ongoing expenses as well as your environmental impact.

If you’re interested in learning more about installing an RO system in your home, contact Rayne Water today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/is-alkaline-water-really-better-for-you/2019/08/27/8c646d26-c462-11e9-b72f-b31dfaa77212_story.html
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/well/eat/alkaline-water-health-benefits.html
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninashapiro/2019/08/25/seven-reasons-why-alkaline-water-is-basically-a-waste-of-money/#596a0d6d54b2
  4. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/29/health/alkaline-water-benefits-explainer/index.html
  5. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/health-claims-letter-denial-alkaline-and-earth-alkaline-citrates-minimizing-risk-osteoporosis