In the last couple of years, alkaline water has become really popular. Certain articles have come up online citing various health benefits as well. Very few, however, go into the science behind it.
So, is alkaline water really good for you or is it just a fad?
Here’s the deal:
There has been very little research on the effects of alkaline water on the human body. Only a few pockets of researchers have spent time on this, but there is no supposed health benefit or drawback from drinking alkaline water that can be backed by scientific research.
Long story short: We don’t know enough yet, it may or may not be good for you.
What are the supposed advantages of drinking alkaline water?
- Better hydration
- Acid reflux relief
- Weight loss
- Helps increase oxygenation in the body
- Cure for anxiety
- Good for hair
Let’s take a look at these one by one:
Drinking Alkaline Water Leads To Better Hydration
The ‘science’ that gets cited behind this claim is that normal water contains H2O molecules clustered together in groups of 13(roughly), while alkaline water contains microclusters- groups of 5 H2O molecules.
The claim is that these microclusters, since they are smaller, are easy for the body to process and hydrate us at a cellular level, much more efficiently than normal water.
The opposing camp says that microclustering is a sales term and that water clusters haven’t been observed much anyway to be make such a statement.
Still, I did find a few research articles that found alkaline water to be more hydrating, such as this one by Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition and this article about research conducted by Montana State University
Alkaline Water Gives Acid Reflux Relief
Everyone knows that the modern fast/frozen food diet is quite unhealthy. One of the side effects of this is that we don’t get enough alkaline foods inside our body. Foods like green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit like apples, etc helps maintain the pH balance of our body, which is supposed to be between 7.35-7.45.
However, because we don’t get enough of these alkaline foods, our bodies struggle to maintain this balance, leading to acid reflux in a lot of people.
Drinking alkaline water certainly helps in restoring the pH balance and solving helping soothe acid reflux. According to this 2012 study, it does so by deactivating pepsin- which is the main enzyme responsible for acid reflux.
However, as Dr. Axe says, just because alkaline water may make your acid reflux better, doesn’t mean that it’s solving the underlying cause. You’re just treating the symptoms, similar to taking antacids.
My view: Alkaline water might definitely help acidity and acid reflux. However, having a good, healthy natural diet should have the same effect, long term. If you want, you can mix in a glass of alkaline water once a day. Moderation is the key.
Can you lose weight by drinking alkaline water?
This ties in with the point right above. Excess production of acid in our body or Acidosis makes one fat because it eats away at muscle mass and bones. This is because the body tries to restore the natural pH balance, for which it takes from the stored reserves of minerals and proteins in the body(which are reserves of alkalinity)
Overall, this can result in mineral deficiencies, such as calcium deficits, slower metabolism and, ultimately, weight gain.
This creates a vicious circle because muscles burn more calories than fat even when we’re resting- i.e increased metabolism. Once we start losing muscle due to acidosis, it becomes that much harder to maintain weight.
This is where alkaline water comes in, helping restore the pH balance in our body and reducing acidity in the body. So, can alkaline water help you lose weight? Yes, in an indirect way, it sure can. However, eating healthy and clean will do the same, and you won’t have to suffer from acidosis in the first place.
Does alkaline water cure anxiety?
Probably one of the strangest things I’ve heard about alkaline water. One of the articles I read while researching this talked about how alkaline water, because of it’s micro-cluster formation, can cross the blood brain barrier and hydrate the brain better, leading to reduced anxiety.
While I’m no doctor and cannot ascertain the ‘science’ behind this- it certainly doesn’t make sense to believe this unless some peer reviewed research actually proves it. Anxiety is a serious problem, and if someone close to me had it, I would only recommend treatments I know would work.
Does alkaline water help increase oxygenation?
According to this recent study of 100 healthy participants who drank alkaline water, their blood showed increased viscosity, which meant blood flow and oxygen delivery in the body became more efficient.
Is alkaline water good for your hair?
Some anecdotal evidence online suggests that alkaline water helps increase blood flow in the body, as well as research articles(see above). To think that this may extend to increased circulation to the hair follicles, leading to hair growth isn’t a very big logical jump.
Whether it works or not, no one can say for sure.
Does alkaline water cause dehydration/mouth dryness?
No, it does not. If you feel dehydrated even after drinking water, it most could be due to an underlying problem, which should be checked by a doctor.
So- What’s the verdict? Is Ionized Alkaline Water Good For You?
Like I said earlier, there has been very little research on this subject and there is so much that we don’t know. What we do know that alkaline water isn’t harmful and you certainly can incorporate it into your diet.
However, moderation is the key. Having too much alkaline water and foods may lead to alkalosis- a condition opposite to acidosis, where the body’s pH swings over the upper limit of it’s normal range of 7.35-7.45.
If you just want to test alkaline water out and see if it provides you with some health benefits, I don’t see the issue with that. I’d suggest not investing in a costly alkaline water filter straightaway.
You can easily make alkaline water at home, see if it works for you and then if you still feel the need, get an alkaline water filter.
How do you make alkaline water at home?
With Kitchen Ingredients
You can make alkaline water at home with baking soda. Simply add ½ tbsp baking soda into a 1 L water bottle, and you’ll have water that’s alkaline.
Another thing you could do is add a dash of lemon juice to alkalize your water. For better effect, simply cut up a lemon and put it inside the bottle overnight to allow the juices to infuse into the water. Even though lemon juice is acidic, once inside the body, it has an alkalizing effect.
Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
Alkaline water pitchers add mineral hydrates, which are alkaline and therefore, raise the pH levels of the water. They aren’t very expensive either, and I recommend getting a pitcher that filters out other common water borne contaminants as well, such as chlorine, chloramines, viruses, bacteria, etc –such as this one on Amazon.
If you’re frequently on the go, you could also get yourself an alkaline water bottle, like this one on Amazon, which also filters out other contaminants in water.
Goes without saying though, that the filter cartridges would require changing every few months, depending upon your usage and the manufacturer’s recommendation. But overall, I’d say a relatively inexpensive way to try alkaline water, you should get this first if you’re contemplating buying an alkaline water ionizer.
Alkaline Water Ionizers
If your water is hard, buying an alkaline water filter pitcher or adding baking soda won’t work effectively because the Total Dissolved Salt(TDS) levels would already be high and adding further minerals wouldn’t be possible to a significant extent. For people with hard water, the best thing would be to get a water ionizer.
Water Ionizers basically consist of two oppositely charged metal rods that attract the H+ and OH- ions in water(These two ions, when combines make up H2O). So, on one side of the container, you have ionized acidic water and on the other you get ionized alkaline water.
After draining the ionized acidic water out, the remaining alkaline water is poured out for use.
These water ionizers can be quite expensive though. Expect to pay minimum of 600-800$ on a water ionizer. Check it out on Amazon.
How to store alkaline water
Alkaline water is best served fresh because it starts losing it’s pH and Oxidation Reduction Potential(ORP) soon as it comes into contact with air.
This means that it starts becoming less alkaline and losing it’s anti-oxidative properties over time. Generally, you can store alkaline water in a normal water bottle/container for about 24 hours.
This, by the way is also a good reason why buying plastic alkaline water bottles doesn’t make sense. The thin plastic can hardly stop the water from losing it’s pH and alkalinity over the few days it takes from being packaged and shipped to finally being drunk by someone.
With proper storage though, you can keep alkaline water for about a week. For best results, get a vacuum steel bottle such as this one on Amazon, or glass jars.
Can you boil alkaline water?
Yes, if you must. It will decrease the pH and ORP(antioxidative value) somewhat, but it will still be better than tap water.
Alkaline water may help you somewhat, but please don’t forget that with most of the touted health benefits, such as soothing acid reflux, it’ll just be treating your symptoms and not the underlying problem.
Following a healthy diet is still the best long term strategy, but if you’d still like to experiment with alkaline water- go ahead. What you should not do is ignore your doctors advice, and invest heavily in an alkaline water machine without first evaluating it’s effects on you.