As recent health and fitness trends have shifted towards a focus on more natural and holistic approaches to achieving wellness, alkaline water gained increased attention. But is alkaline water better than regular water? Consider the claims made by alkaline water enthusiasts and what expert medical clinicians say about it.
What Is Alkaline Water and How Is It Created?
Alkaline water is water with a pH level higher than a neutral 7, which makes it alkaline rather than acidic. You can make water alkaline either by filtering it from a steady, clean stream—as the water naturally picks up minerals in the environment by flowing over rocks, for example, making it alkaline—or through a process called electrolysis.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that tap water maintain a pH between 6.5 and 8.5, most tap water in the United States comes out at 4.3. to 5.3, which is more acidic. And acidic water can be bad for you.
But before you make any decisions aboutalkaline water, get your water tested to find out whether it is within the EPA-recommended pH range. Even if your water is slightly acidic, an improved water filtration system may be a better answer than guzzling expensive bottles of alkaline water.
Why Some People Think Alkaline Water Is Beneficial
Alkaline water advocates claim that it is beneficial in neutralizing body acids, which can provide a range of health benefits. But experts say the body’s natural processes balance pH better.
Other reasons people believe alkaline water is superior to regular water include:
- Hydration: some believe the body more readily absorbs alkaline water, thus promoting better hydration. But the Cleveland Clinic says that’s misleading: the amount of water, rather than the type, is what matters for hydration.
- Antioxidant properties: some claim that alkaline water contains higher levels of negatively charged hydrogen ions, which act as antioxidants and help combat free radicals. But again, the Cleveland Clinic says this claim hasn’t been scientifically tested, and that drinking alkaline water doesn’t provide any special advantage in avoiding illnesses.
Evidence of Benefit
Some studies suggest that alkaline water may provide certain benefits:
- A 2012 study found that water with a pH of 8.8 may deactivate an enzyme called pepsin, which plays a part in acid reflux.
- A 2016 study concluded that regularly consuming alkaline water may help improve blood viscosity, which could potentially enhance blood flow and oxygen delivery within the body.
Healthline cites several other studies that suggest possible benefits for bone density in post-menopausal women, improved markers of aging in DNA, and a possible reduction in symptoms of fatty liver disease in mice. But remember, mice aren’t people! We need more extensive research to confirm these findings and to explore potential long-term effects.
Potential Negative Effects of Alkaline Water
While some studies suggest the potential benefits of alkaline water, others note the potential downsides. Artificially altering the body’s pH could interfere with its natural acid-base balance. This interference could lead to negative side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle twitching.
The jury is still out on whether alkaline water is better than regular water. While some studies have shown the potential benefits of alkaline water, determining its long-term effects and overall safety requires more extensive research. The most important thing is to make sure the water you drink comes from a clean, safe source.