You might think of water as a neutral liquid, but did you know it can actually vary quite a bit? If you’ve ever visited or lived in a city with poor water quality, you know that not all water is equal! Different amounts of minerals can affect the smell, taste, and overall quality of water. Thus, companies sell bottled mineral water, pure spring water, and other varieties of “supplemented” water. A more recent newcomer to the water scene is alkaline water. It’s become popular, and here’s what you need to know about alkaline water.
What is alkaline water? When people talk about alkaline water, they’re referring to water that is higher on the pH scale, making it less acidic than normal tap water. On the pH scale, 7 is considered neutral (this is where most pure tap water scores). Bottled water, depending on the brand has a pH of 5 or 6 (more acidic) while alkaline water ranges from 8 to 9 (more alkaline).
What’s the big deal about pH? The main reason people suggest drinking alkaline water is based on the theory that our bodies are generally too acidic. This is attributed to a number of things, primarily our diet of consuming too many processed foods that are acidic. Following an alkaline diet – eating foods and water that are alkaline – is supposed to restore your body’s pH balance.
What are the health benefits of alkaline water? The greatest health benefit attributed to alkaline water is preventing disease. Among other things, alkaline water is said to: • Sooth acid reflux • Reduce body fat • Decrease fatigue • Support the immune system • Flush out toxins • Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s • Increase hydration Doctors who have been using and prescribing alkaline water report seeing patients improve a number of conditions by drinking alkaline water including fibromyalgia, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and psoriasis.
Are the claims about alkaline water credible? First of all, it’s important to note that when you hear people talk about the body’s pH level, what they’re really referring to is the pH balance of your blood. A healthy pH range is 7.35-7.45, which registers as slightly alkaline. If our bodies get much above or below that, we won’t survive. So the real range we’re dealing with is actually very small. Your body does a good job maintaining a proper pH balance, and it has little to do with what you eat. Your metabolic system runs a tight ship keeping your pH at an optimal balance. Alkaline water may register higher on the pH scale, but this is merely because the acidic minerals have been removed, not because it has inherent alkalinity. As one expert put it, naturally alkaline water (or food) can be beneficial, but artificially alkaline water is neutral and even perhaps dangerous. A study in Japan showed potential long-term affects of drinking alkaline water, including deteriorization of cells in the heart ultimately leading to cardiac arrest.
What’s the verdict? The evidence proving alkaline water lives up to its claims is shaky at best. The information we have currently seems to indicate the body does quite well taking care of its pH balance on its own. If anything, the strongest studies point in the direction of alkaline water doing more harm than good. For now, you might be better off saving your money and sticking with good ‘ol regular water.
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