Alkaline water: Healthy or a Hoax?

kim tierney Blog

Water is the most integral and abundant substance in our bodies, and we all know that drinking water is a must when it comes to health. You may have heard the hype surrounding 'alkaline water' - water that is less acidic than traditional bottled water and tap water. It contains alkalizing compounds like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Some may tell you that this water is the secret elixir of health. Is it really a worthy investment for your health or is it just a hoax?

Alkaline water explained:

PH is a measure that runs on a scale from 0-14, measuring how acidic or alkaline a substance is. Zero is the most acidic, 7 is neutral, 14 is the most alkaline. Water is around neutral but can tip towards more acidic. Alkaline water has a pH above 7.

The rationale behind alkaline water is that the standard American diet / lifestyle is too "acidic", and therefore contributes to chronic low-grade acidosis - a condition defined by increased acidity in the blood and other body tissue that can lead to illness and weight gain.

Foods that are acid-producing include animal proteins, grains, refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and chemical additives, all of which are abundant in the standard American diet. Emotional stress and lack of sleep are also acid-producing factors. It is posited that the alkalizing compounds in alkaline water can neutralize the acidity in the body and improve overall health.

The wonder of the human body: Without the help of alkaline water, the body works hard on its own to naturally keep the blood more towards alkalinity, taking from stored reserves whenever necessary to maintain balance. Your body needs to maintain proper blood pH in order to survive. As long as you are living and breathing, your blood pH will be within the healthy range. Therefore, proponents of alkaline water will argue that since acidity cannot be detected in blood tests, you may still be silently suffering the consequences of a acidosis.

Should I start drinking alkaline water?

Because it contains alkalizing compounds, the water may contribute to body alkalinity, but science has yet to provide solid evidence. Also, the notion that everyone needs to "alkalize" is an over simplification. Each organ system in the body has its own unique pH. Our bodies naturally regulate all of these pH measures. In addition, “body alkalinity” is not correlated with better health outcomes overall. In certain cases, high alkalinity can cause negative side effects. If your pH is out of balance, its important to determine the core cause and treat that condition rather than trying to fix the symptom.

The current claims on alkaline water is that it prevents acidosis, reduces inflammation, destroys toxins, and improves overall health. Perhaps they could be true, but there is no hard scientific evidence that supports any of these claims. There have been small benefits shown for specific people, such as for people with reflux disease,  but no groundbreaking evidence that suggests alkaline water over tap.

Bottom line: drink water. Whether it's alkaline or not, it likely will not make or break your health. As always, every body is different. If you want to experiment with the benefits of alkaline water for your own health, the science also shows there’s no harm in drinking it. You'll fork over some extra cash, but at least you'll be making an informed decision.