We all know we need to drink enough water to prevent dehydration, and for me, the most satisfying water is the cold bottle I drink after a long run. I can almost feel my body respond as the liquid replenishes lost hydration, and I feel rejuvenated and alive.
But lately there’s been a lot of hype about alkaline water, perhaps born from that cayenne-lemon-maple syrup cleanse, since adding lemons to water creates an alkaline environment.
Also known as ionized, vitalized, oxygenated, restructured and raw “living” water, the proponents are pretty adamant about the benefits, and suggest that the oxygen added to alkaline water can help boost energy levels and improve health.
But here’s the rub. The machines required to turn what alkaline water lovers see as plain, sad tap water into “healthier” water can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Remember the good old days when we complained about having to buy water at all?
Let’s take a step back and look at the real story.
H²0 by any other name
Essentially, alkaline water is water with a pH higher than 7.0. Water with a pH below 7 is considered acidic. (Ref. 1)
The pH is controlled by how much hydrogen or hydroxyl is present in the water. If you add minerals with more hydrogen, pH values go down. If you add minerals with more hydroxyl, the pH values go up.
The process of turning a glass of plain water into an alkaline one can be simple or complex. Adding baking soda, lemon or a hint of sea salt can do the job.
You can also purchase a wide range of devices designed to transform your plain water into alkaline water, including a water ionizer, an ionizing water filter or a reverse osmosis water filter, all of which result in alkaline water.
You can also use a normal water distiller and add pH drops to the water after it’s been distilled. (Ref. 2)
Alkaline water is also available online for prices that run as high as almost $40 a gallon.
The hype behind alkaline water
Those who drink alkaline water claim it flushes toxins from the body, is loaded with antioxidants that reduce signs of aging while sending the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cancer plummeting. It is also purported to increase the body’s ability to digest food and take in nutrients while hydrating more effectively.
So you’re drinking alkaline water. (And if you live in the United States, you most likely are already, since most of the tap water in the country is alkaline, with a pH of about 8.5 or more thanks to minerals it picks up as it travels through concrete, copper or metal piping.)
The truth is, most experts would say that any benefits you may experience are completely placebo effects, because as soon as the water you’ve so patiently crafted into alkaline hits your stomach, it becomes acidic again.
“There is no basis for any health claims at all,” said California-based gastroenterologist Dr. John Petrini, past president of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
After water is digested, it enters the stomach, and leaves with a pH of about 6.8 after coming into contact with stomach acids, he said. (Ref. 3)
In fact, no matter how hard you try to adjust your body’s pH levels, we’re not like garden soil, and instead have mechanisms that work to maintain pH blood values between a narrow range of 7.35 and 7.45, he added.
The safety issues of alkaline water
According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, a nutritional expert with decades of experience, excess acidity at a cellular level comes from a deficiency of minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and others that are considered alkaline.
Drinking alkaline water not only doesn’t restore those minerals, it may actually deplete them – acting the same way as artificial sweeteners and fooling the body into thinking it is alkaline so it eliminates more alkaline minerals than it should. (Ref. 4)
So do not concern too much about drinking alkaline water, because it is still too early to conclude that alkaline water is beneficial for us.
A better bet is to take a supplement like our Total Balance, which offers all the elements required to help support your body in restoring its proper pH levels, and wash it down with the cleanest, purest drinking water possible.
Do you drink alkaline water and notice a difference in how you feel? If so, tell us about it. We’d love to hear differing opinions on this trending topic.