The Health Benefits of Alkaline Water

glass of water

You have no doubt read about some of the potential health benefits of drinking high alkaline water. Believers say it helps slow down the aging process, reduce acid in the body by regulating the body’s pH, and even prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. But how much truth to these claims is there, and what exactly qualifies as high pH alkaline water?

The pH scale of acid and base runs from 0 to 14, with 0 being the highest in acidity and lowest in base, and 14 being the lowest in acidity and highest in base or alkalinity. So, the alkalinity in alkaline water refers to its pH level. Regular water generally comes in at a pH of 7, right in the middle of the scale. Not too acidic and not too alkaline. Because high pH water carries a higher level of alkalinity, water and health advocates claim it can help reduce the body's acid level, and lead to other health benefits both physical and mental. But high levels of pH isn’t enough for water to be considered alkaline. Alkaline water with pH levels above 7.7, must also contain minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium bicarbonate, which not only give the body much needed minerals, but also makes the water taste better.

Is It Better for You?

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular water is probably the only water most people need. They state that there is no scientific evidence that fully corroborates the claims made by supporters of alkaline water. But there are some studies that suggest that for some people, high alkaline water can have some health benefits, including inhibiting the enzyme pepsin, which is the main cause of heartburn and acid reflux. Others who have suffered from other ailments like chronic inflammation, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol claim that high alkaline water has helped, but there is limited actual science to support these claims. Alkaline water proponents continue to swear by the benefits and add colon health, skin health, immune system support and cancer prevention to the list of health benefits.

What Are the Downsides?

In general, there aren't many downside to drinking too much water, including high pH alkaline water. But, as with just about anything, there is safety in moderation. But some of the reported negative side affects of drinking high-alkaline water are nausea, vomiting and muscle soreness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

Natural vs Artificial Alkaline

Water that is high in naturally occurring alkaline  - ie, water that passes through Artesian springs with high levels of natural mineral like potassium and magnesium - is preferable to artificial alkaline or ionized water. Ionized water is water that is treated been through a chemical process called electrolysis, which strips out the healthy minerals. This process uses a machine called an ionizer to raise the pH of regular water, and is a popular marketing trick aimed at people looking to spend a lot of money on big machines in their kitchens. Makers of ionizers say that electricity is used to separate molecules in the water that are more acidic or more alkaline before removing the acidic water, but these techniques and claims have no science to back it up. Some scientists have supported the idea of using reverse-osmosis to accomplish the same thing, adding pH and while keeping the mineral - but more research is needed to verify that this actually works and is safe.

Photo by Andrew Ren on Unsplash

by Charles Baker