What is alkaline water? Is alkaline water healthy? Why think about drinking it? In this article, we’ll treat you to an in-depth introduction to alkaline water, plus we’ll explore the potential benefits that come with drinking it. There’s a lot of information to drink in, but don’t let that prevent you from learning all the facts about alkaline water.
What is alkaline water?
Sometimes called akaline water, alkaline water is drinking water that has a higher pH than average. Where most drinking water offers a neutral pH of 7, alkaline water pH is usually 8 or 9. But pH isn’t all there is to alkaline water. This water also contains alkaline minerals, and many waters alkaline potential is enhanced via negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP). ORP is simply water’s ability to serve as a pro-oxidant (something that’s undesirable) or an antioxidant (a desirable characteristic). The more negative a water’s ORP value is, the greater its value as an antioxidant.
Natural alkaline water is often seen as superior to alkaline water that has been produced via electrolysis. The reason for this is simple: Naturally alkaline water gets its “alkaline” nature by passing over rocks and picking up minerals along the way.
Most of the bottled alkaline water available for sale is produced via electrolysis, which is a chemical process in which an ionizer is used to raise the pH of regular drinking water. If you’re considering this water, check to see if it has added minerals, which are often put back into the water to improve its taste and increase its alkalinity.
Different companies use a variety of proprietary processes to make alkaline water, but there are some that offer naturally mineralized alkaline water with a negative ORP. If you can find a brand that comes from a natural artesian well, then you’re probably going to enjoy the taste and treat your body to some essential minerals along the way.
Is alkaline water good for you?
Alkaline water can be good for you, but it’s important to be aware that it’s probably not going to make a huge difference in your wellbeing. Let’s take a closer look at alkaline water health benefits and potential side effects.
Alkaline Water Benefits
Why drink alkaline water? Before we take a look at potential benefits, it’s important to note that there are a few prominent studies that show alkaline water may be beneficial. At the same time, there isn’t a lot of scientific research available to support these studies or back up the mountains of anecdotal evidence provided by people who feel that alkaline water has helped them. Don’t let this stop you from trying it if you’re interested; after all, many of our best natural remedies work very well even though there aren’t mountains of evidence explaining why they’re so effective. Here are some potential benefits of alkaline water.
Alkaline water may reduce discomfort associated with acid reflux.
Alkaline water may help alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort, particularly acid reflux. The reason for this is that the alkaline minerals in the water can help buffer some of the acid that’s being washed up into the esophagus. The effect is similar to that of a simple OTC acid reducer, but not as strong. A 2012 study that investigated the benefits of drinking natural pH 8.8 alkaline water from an artesian well found that the natural bicarbonate in the water was able to irreversibly inactivate human pepsin and buffer hydrochloric acid. Researchers concluded that people who suffer from acid reflux might benefit from the consumption of alkaline water.
Alkaline water may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure. Those with elevated blood lipids or high blood sugar might benefit as well.
Another study concluded that alkaline water could have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids in cases of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia, respectively. Participants drank alkaline water for a few months between measurements, and at the end of the study, improvements were noted. What isn’t mentioned in the researchers’ notes is whether the participants took additional steps toward improving their condition. We do not believe that alkaline water is a panacea, and it would be irresponsible to suggest that miracles might occur simply by changing the type of water you drink and nothing else. At the same time, adding alkaline water to appropriate lifestyle changes might make a difference so feel free to give it a try if you’re looking for ways to improve blood pressure, decrease blood lipids, or lower blood sugar naturally.
Alkaline water might enhance rehydration and improve circulation.
In a 2016 study, 100 healthy adults enjoyed a strenuous workout. Some consumed alkaline water, while others served as a control group by consuming purified drinking water. Those in the high pH water group reduced their blood viscosity by 6.3 percent, while those in the control group saw a blood viscosity reduction level of 3.36 percent. Rehydration was significantly faster, and enhanced blood flow increases the rate at which oxygen is delivered to the body’s tissues, reducing recovery time in athletes.
What does this mean for the rest of us? This study suggests that drinking alkaline water during and after exercise might make it easier for our bodies to remain hydrated, and it might help us feel more energetic afterward.
Still more alkaline water benefits haven’t been backed up by studies. These potential benefits include:
- Better antioxidant absorption
- Potential anti-aging properties
- Enhanced immune system strength
- Better skin health
- Superior detoxification
- Cancer resistance
- Faster weight loss
- Increased metabolism
- Better colon health
Alkaline Water Side Effects and Potential Risks
Does alkaline water make you pee more? While this is one of the side effects suggested by proponents, it isn’t necessarily true. At the same time, if you drink more than usual, you’re probably going to find yourself searching for the nearest restroom a lot more often, too.
As Stanley Goldfarb, MD, a professor and hydration expert from the University of Pennsylvania said in an interview, “If you drink a lot of alkaline water, all you’re going to do is pee out a huge amount of alkaline material. There really is no rationale for this.” He went on to explain that “What people need to appreciate is that the body is designed to maintain its equilibrium in the face of whatever you take in. We are designed to maintain the pH of our bodies in an extraordinarily specific range. We have so many defense mechanisms to prevent an accumulation of alkaline that drinking alkaline water will have little effect.”
Because lowering the stomach’s pH can reduce stomach acid’s natural acidity, overconsumption of alkaline water might have adverse effects including:
- Slower digestion or incomplete digestion
- Stomach ulcers
- Bacterial overgrowth
Excessive alkalinity in the body can lead to a rare condition called metabolic alkalosis, which can cause serious symptoms including:
- Muscle twitches
- Hand tremors
- Tingling in the face and/or extremities
Because the body is excellent at maintaining its balance, it’s highly unlikely that enjoying alkaline water would cause alkalosis.
DIY Alkaline Water
If you like the idea of drinking alkaline water but you don’t want to spend money on bottled varieties, you’ll be glad to discover that there are some very easy ways to make your own alkaline water.
Water ionizers that attach to your faucet are available for purchase, as are less expensive pitcher-style ionizing filters. You can also purchase pH drops at a health food store, but it can be tricky to get the pH of your water just right when using these drops.
If you’re watching your budget, you’ll be thrilled to learn that you don’t need a machine or any special drops to create alkaline water on your own. The easiest, most natural way to make alkaline water at home is to add lemon and a touch of Himalayan sea salt to your water. Even though citrus tastes acidic, it is anionic and contains minerals that make water more alkaline. This simple method treats you to a few more vitamins, plus it makes your water more flavorful. What’s not to love?
1. Start by filling a one-gallon pitcher with drinking water.
2. Cut an organic lemon into slices and add them to the water. There’s no need to squeeze.
3. Add a tablespoon of Himalayan salt to the pitcher (optional) for added minerals.
4. Cover the water to protect it from debris and allow it to sit at room temperature. The water will be ready to drink in about 8 hours.
While alkaline water health claims might be overblown, there’s not enough research to suggest that alkaline water is harmful, either. If you like the way alkaline water tastes or if you feel like it hydrates you better after workouts, feel free to drink up! At the same time, don’t discount the benefits of water with a lower pH, especially if that water offers healthy minerals to benefit your teeth and bones.
Science has yet to prove that any specific water can work miracles, but there’s plenty of research that shows how important it is to stay hydrated. So, what’s the bottom line? It’s simple: Find water that tastes good to you and drink it up! Your body will thank you.