Water is undoubtedly the single most important element for our survival. Despite all its humility, water cannot be taken lightly. It’s been proven time and again that guzzling more than the standard 8–10 glasses is good for health. Alternative medicine also finds cures to a lot of ailments in the humble liquid.
So can we make a good thing as water even better? Yes we can. Vitamin water and electrolyte water have shown us how. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, along came alkaline water!
There is a lot of hype around alkaline water these days and many people are opting for it over tap water. It’s said to have many virtues such as slowing down aging, regulating the body’s pH balance, raising your energy levels, protecting you from cancer, boosting your metabolism, controlling sugar better, and combating fertility issues.
Let’s figure out if it’s all that it claims to be or just another health hoax.
What Is Alkaline Water?
Regular water or plain old tap water has a pH of 6 to 7, which is the neutral pH level, with every thing below 7 considered acidic and above it considered alkaline. Alkaline water’s pH is higher, mostly between 7 and 9.5. It is loaded with alkalizing minerals and compounds like magnesium, silica, bicarbonate, potassium, and calcium.
Because of our highly acidic modern-day diets, the alkaline balance in the body often suffers, and the body is then forced to derive it by demineralizing our bones. It is therefore important to maintain that acid-alkaline balance in the body.1
What Are The Benefits Of Alkaline Water?
Gut Problem Fixer
Alkaline water of pH 8.8 was observed to be very useful for those with reflux disorders, especially gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, caused mainly by acid. When the reflux goes beyond esophagus, pepsin, the chief digestive enzyme in the stomach that breaks down protein, emerges as the primary villain.2. Alkaline water is capable of denaturing pepsin, making it permanently inactive. This kind of water has good acid-buffering qualities, which is good news for your gut.3
Those with brittle bones, bone loss, or a genetic history of osteoporosis may also benefit from alkaline water. An acidic diet leads to the body extracting minerals out of bones. Alkaline supplements, even in the form of water, are found to improve bone metabolism or resorption and increase bone density.4
BP, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol Manager
According to a study, subjects who were made to drink alkaline water for three to six months were able to reduce and meet the target ranges of blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids. The significant decrease showed that alkaline ionized water may be used as supportive treatment while dealing with these three chronic conditions.5
Active People Get The Most Benefits
The most pronounced benefits of supplementing the diet with alkaline water are to physically active people. Alkaline content in the body is said to help expel the excess hydrogen ions produced by the muscles during intense exercise. This increases acidity in the body, giving way to fatigue and that drained feeling.
According to a study, a seven-day trial of alkalizing tablets on Nordic skiers revealed that they experienced lower stress related to the heart and the lungs. Higher upper body power and lower levels of lactic acid in blood were also noted in the study.6
Hey, You Can Make It At Home!
Other than getting a water purifier with an ionizer that artificially adds ions to your water, you can try some at-home measures. Just add some baking powder, lemon, or even pH drops (available at health stores, pharmacies, and even online) to the water.
Caution, There Are Side Effects
Water becomes naturally alkaline when it passes through rocks and adds minerals to its content in the process. While having naturally alkaline water (from springs) is good for the body, water artificially fortified with minerals may not suit everyone. Also note that the pH level of alkaline water may not be in sync with that of other organs in the body. The stomach, for example, has a much lower pH due to the digestive acids.
Too Much Alkalinity
Yes, there is something as too much alkalinity. And it’s not good news, especially for digestion. Decreased levels of natural acids in the stomach can result in abnormal digestion and can affect nutrient absorption. It can lead to a condition called milk-alkali syndrome, which results in increased calcium levels, a condition called hypercalcemia. This can lead to renal problems.7
And Too Much Calcium In The Kidneys
Long-term exposure to alkaline water has been shown to lead to calcification of the kidneys in mice. Those with any kind of renal disorder should check with their doctors before having artificially-alkalinized water.8
There are other side effects like fatigue, muscle ache, and darker and odorous stools as reported by long-time users of alkaline water.
No, It Doesn’t Help Cancer
There is a lot of talk around how cancer cells do not survive in an alkaline atmosphere and cancer can be fought by making your body more alkaline. Studies, however, debunk this theory. A study has found that tumors make their own acids and do not need external help for this. In fact, they make themselves acidic even in an alkaline atmosphere.9
Even if it can’t help with cancer, alkaline water, in moderation, is good. Just don’t indulge.
|↑1||Minich, Deanna M., and Jeffrey S. Bland. “Acid-alkaline balance: role in chronic disease and detoxification.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13, no. 4 (2007): 62.|
|↑2||Bardhan, Karna Dev, Vicki Strugala, and Peter W. Dettmar. “Reflux revisited: advancing the role of pepsin.” International journal of otolaryngology 2012 (2011).|
|↑3||Koufman, Jamie A., and Nikki Johnston. “Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease.”Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 121, no. 7 (2012): 431-434.|
|↑4||Burckhardt, Peter. “The effect of the alkali load of mineral water on bone metabolism: interventional studies.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 2 (2008): 435S-437S.|
|↑5||Yu-lian, W. A. N. G. “Preliminary observation on changes of blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids after using alkaline ionized drinking water [J].”Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine 12 (2001): 005.|
|↑6||Heil, Daniel P., Erik A. Jacobson, and Stephanie M. Howe. “Influence of an alkalizing supplement on markers of endurance performance using a double-blind placebo-controlled design.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9, no. 1 (2012): 1.|
|↑7||Medarov, Boris I. “Milk-alkali syndrome.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 84, no. 3, pp. 261-267. Elsevier, 2009.|
|↑8||Merne, Marina ET, Kari J. Syrjänen, and Stina M. Syrjänen.”Systemic and local effects of long‐term exposure to alkaline drinking water in rats.”International journal of experimental pathology 82, no. 4 (2001): 213-219.|
|↑9||Gillies, Robert J., Paul A. Schomack, Timothy W. Secomb, and Natarajan Raghunand. “Causes and effects of heterogeneous perfusion in tumors.”Neoplasia 1, no. 3 (1999): 197-207.|