Besides regular mineral water, we can find other types of drinking water displayed on the supermarket racks. These drinking waters claim to have higher pH than regular mineral water. It is more known as alkaline water, and it is dubbed as an extra-healthy type of water to drink.
The pH scale of alkaline water ranges from 0 to 14; anything with a pH below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is referred to as basic. Pure tap water that comes out of your faucet has a pH level of 7, which is considered neutral (neither acidic nor basic). Bottled water, in the other hand, can vary by a few pH units ranging from 6.5 to 8.5. The alkaline water we find in the market typically has pH between 7 and 9.5 or more in some cases.
Alkaline water is believed to be able to protect the body from toxins and improve overall health; thanks to its being less acidic than tap water. It’s also said that alkaline water offers more key minerals the body needs to function properly, like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
However, is it true that alkaline water really improves one’s health? Or is it just a marketing strategy?
The said benefits of alkaline water
We often hear that alkaline water boosts the metabolism, slows bone loss and the aging process, and metabolizes nutrients easier by neutralizing acid in the blood that cause disease. Meanwhile, the opposing side agrees there might be benefits but unsure whether the benefits come from the high pH of alkaline water itself or the minerals it contains.
The benefits of an alkaline diet, including drinking alkaline water derive from alkaline foods’ supposed ability to help the body deal with extra-acidic lifestyle. Canned food, greasy meats, and soft drinks are acidic, and alkaline water is here to balance it all.
Alkaline water for balancing pH levels in our body
However, when people talk about trying to balance pH level in our body, they’re usually talking about the pH of our blood, which typically exists in slightly alkaline range of 7.35 – 7.45. It’s very dangerous if it goes too much above or below that. If your blood pH is abnormally high or low, your first clue will be passing out.
On average, our healthy pH levels should be approximately a 7.365 for the blood on a scale between 0-14, leaving the blood at 60/40 alkaline-to-acid ratio.
In rare situation like diabetic ketoacidosis (a serious issue in which one’s bodily fluids becomes too acidic), the pH imbalance can’t be corrected by simply drinking some alkaline water. The healthy human body does a really good job of regulating the blood’s pH.
How about other benefits?
Can alkaline water actually help with other health conditions?
A study in the 2001 issue of “Shanghai Journal of Protective Medicine” found drinking alkaline water for 3 to 6 months lowered cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels in participants. Another study in July 2012 edition of “Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology” titled “Potential Benefits of pH 8.8 Alkaline Drinking Water as an Adjunct in the Treatment of Reflux Disease” found that water with a pH of 8.8 effectively neutralized stomach acid and pepsin, making it possible treatment for acid reflux.
One study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition used an alkaline-dissolving supplement to create alkaline water with a 10.0 pH level. After four weeks, the study concluded that participants consuming the alkaline water did show increased hydration and improved acid-base balance in the blood compared to those drinking regular water.
However, these studies only tested for short-term viability, leaving out many factors, like diet or existing health-related issues. With such limited information available, no wonder that there are many people are confused about the benefits of alkaline water.
Alkaline water isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it’s probably not much better than regular mineral water. It is okay to consume alkaline water and other alkaline foods in your diet, but moderation is a key to keep the pH level balanced. Healthy, nutrition-rich lifestyle filled with fresh and less-processed foods is the best way to maintain a proper pH balance. No matter how sophisticated, expensive, or fancy your alkaline water is, it cannot replace essential vitamins and minerals your body needs from food.