Because we can access the internet at the touch of our fingertips, we can also get updated with the latest trends in beauty and health. You might have heard of beverages like lemon water and green smoothies all over social media, but another healthy drink in the form of alkaline water is also making noise.
What is Alkaline Water?
The simplest explanation is the water’s pH level. Alkaline water is termed alkaline because it has a pH level higher than neutral and acidic water. From a scale of 0 to 14, neutral water would be 7, and anything lower is acidic. Therefore, water with a pH level above 7 is considered alkaline. What gives water higher alkalinity? Minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate are present naturally or are added in the water.
You can buy bottled alkaline water at stores from different brands who have sourced them from artesian aquifers and springs. However, because of its emerging popularity, there are also possible ways on how you can raise the alkalinity of your water at home. These ranges from simple solutions like adding baking soda to water or using devices like ionizers and filters.
To help you further understand what alkaline water is, let us discuss the two types.
Natural vs Artificial
Natural alkaline water (water collected from springs or artesian aquifers) have acquired natural minerals from passing over rocks. Artificial alkaline water, on the other hand, has gone through electrolysis via a piece of equipment called ionizer. Artificial alkaline water can also be from purified water that underwent remineralization to replenish the minerals it has lost.
Why is it important to remineralize water? According to the World Health Organization, demineralized water, or low-mineral content water, is not ideal for drinking because it has lost the beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium.
What is Alkaline Water Good For?
As we have discussed earlier, alkaline water has a higher pH level compared to regular water. But what is the relation of pH level to our health? If the pH level of water is too high or too low, it can cause detrimental effects.
For example, according to WHO, pH levels greater than 11 can cause eye irritation and also worsen skin problems. While pH levels below 4, on the other hand, can irritate the eyes and damage the epithelium.
Alkaline water normally has a pH level of 8 to 9. And many people, including celebrities like Miranda Kerr, swears by the benefits this water can give you.
Let’s delve in deeper to know why is alkaline water good for you.
Health Benefits of Alkaline Water
Acts as an antioxidant
Let’s start first with the most popular health benefit according to alkaline water fans: it acts as an antioxidant. An explanation related to this is when alkaline water is ionized; the result will have a negative ORP. What is ORP? ORP stands for oxidation-reduction potential. If a substance has a negative ORP, it can neutralize free radicals because it has supplied electrons to them.
This, in turn, will prevent tissue damage because the free radicals who might steal electrons from our healthy molecules are already deactivated. Note that it is essential for water to be alkaline before ionization because the minerals play a significant role in electrolysis.
With the scientific explanations out of the way, we can now make a relationship with how alkaline water is said to slow down the aging process. According to the free radical theory, the oxidative damage from free radicals is the culprit in the aging process. Therefore, if free radicals are deactivated, our aging process will slow down.
Another thing that supporters claim is that because alkaline water is an antioxidant, it can, therefore, lower the risk of cancer. We also found a study that says alkaline diet may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents. However, there is still no scientific evidence between the relationship of alkaline water and cancer to say that it can prevent or treat the disease.
Relieves acid reflux
Acid reflux refers to when the acid in your stomach goes back up to your esophagus. This results in an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, commonly known as heartburn. Some people also experience acid reflux for a long time and are known to have the disease called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.)
Because of the discomfort that acid reflux causes, many people have been making alkaline water at home to drink and relieve themselves of the symptoms. Alkaline water is known to alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux because the enzyme responsible for it, pepsin, is inactivated at a pH level of 8. This claim is furthered backed up by a study done in 2012. Researchers have found that alkaline water with a pH level of 8.8 can instantly denature pepsin.
But because this study is done in vitro, meaning it is done in the laboratory and not to humans, it is hard to say that alkaline water is enough to be used as a treatment for acid reflux. It is also important to remember that our stomach has to maintain a certain pH level to keep our digestion healthy and the bacteria and pathogens in our digestive system at bay.
Helps in bone health
According to a 2009 study, the abundance of minerals like bicarbonate and calcium in alkaline water can make our bones stronger due to the improved mineral density and lessened bone resorption.
Many alkaline water fanatics will also recommend you to have alkaline water as your thirst-quencher after exercising. The reason for this is because researchers have found that electrolyzed alkaline water can reduce your blood viscosity after exercising. This means your blood will flow more efficiently, therefore, increasing the oxygen delivery throughout your body.
We have also found another research published in 2018 that concludes drinking alkalized water enhances hydration. At the same time, the researchers have mentioned that alkaline water can prevent the effects of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis contributes to muscle fatigue from increased lactic acid production.
Lowers cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure
According to a study conducted in China, the blood lipid, blood sugar, and blood pressure of people who drunk ionized alkaline water (for 3 to 6 months) have decreased significantly.
These are some of the most commonly claimed benefits of drinking alkaline water. Although there are studies that are related to all of them, it is still too early to declare the 100% validity of these claims, nor say that these benefits are not possible.
Alkaline water is generally safe, but what professionals want you to remember is that we still need to do more studies. These studies can investigate the idea of using alkaline water as a treatment and prevention for certain conditions.
Are There Risks with Drinking Alkaline Water?
Some of the things that might come to your mind with the question “is alkaline water good for you?” are its possible risks. As we have mentioned earlier, any pH level that is too much (too high or too low) can cause detrimental effects to our body. If you abuse alkaline water, you can disrupt your body’s normal pH.
Alkalosis, particularly metabolic alkalosis is a condition where your blood becomes overly alkaline from either too much bicarbonate ions or very few hydrogen ions. Symptoms of alkalosis can include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, confusion, muscle twitching, and numbing or tingling of feet, hands, and face.
Reduce Stomach Acid
It might be beneficial for people who are suffering from acid reflux when alkaline water neutralizes stomach acids. However, you need your stomach acid to digest protein and absorb vitamin B12 properly. Your stomach acid also kills bacteria and pathogen so that they can’t pass into your bloodstream.
Up to 60% of our body is made up of water, and every day, we need to consume 2.2 liters (adult female) to 3 liters (adult male) of water to survive. From maintaining normal body temperature, ridding of body wastes, to even lubricating joints; there is no doubt that water is the best drink there is. It makes us feel good and look good!
However, it is important that the water we drink is free from any harmful contaminants like chemicals and parasites that can wreak havoc in our body. Water, particularly tap water, can be contaminated in many ways. These could be from old lead pipes, improper disposal of pollutants, and agricultural or industrial wastes. Therefore, your safest option, if you are not sure about drinking the tap water in your area, is to filter it first before drinking. But because some purifiers rid water of essential minerals, we have to remineralize it as well.
There is not enough scientific evidence to approve or disapprove alkaline water as a prevention and cure to the known health benefits that surround it. We advise that just like with any other health trend, you should consult your doctor first to be sure that it will be safe for you. It is also better that you start with drinking small amounts first before increasing it gradually.
Are there any benefits and risks that we missed? Comment them below!