Alkaline Water: Benefits, Side Effects, and Risks

Water has several benefits for the general chemical process in the body and cell health. However, water differs in pH levels, with some acidic and other alkaline depending on the source. Many people worldwide prefer normal plain tap water. In contrast, some suggest that alkaline water has more health benefits, leading to the rise of alkaline diets and ionizing machines that make water more alkaline. The pH ranges from 0-14, which means seven is neutral. A pH value above seven is considered alkaline, while below seven is regarded as acidic.

What is alkaline water?

Numerous claims about the benefits of alkaline water, ranging from the delayed aging process, reduced inflammation to chronic cancer prevention. Alkaline in water is due to its pH levels that are higher than the normal plain water. Because of its high pH levels, many propagate that it can help neutralize the body acid and fight diseases. Water that is very acidic or too alkaline can cause adverse effects on the body, clearly demonstrated how they react with water pipes. Regular drinking water has a pH of seven, while alkaline water has a pH of 8 or 9. However, what boosts alkaline water is its mineral content and its negative ORP (oxidation-reduction potential), water’s ability to act as an antioxidant. Bottled alkaline water sometimes contains added chemicals or nutrients to change the pH to alkalinity.

Benefits of alkaline water

The fuzz around alkaline water among health enthusiasts is because it has unique health benefits.

Bone health

A study on the advantages of alkaline water on bone health found out that alkaline reduces bone resorption, which is breaking down old bone cells and replacing them with new ones, resulting in improved strength. The result of the study had a small effect, hence the need for additional research to determine long-term benefits.

It may reduce acid reflux

A backwash of acidic stomach content causes acid reflux or GERD to the esophagus resulting in irritation, chest pain, and sometimes vomit. One study recommended a further study into alkaline water or alkaline supplements in treating acid reflux disease. The study discovered that alkaline water of 8.8 pH level might deactivate enzyme pepsin associated with acid reflux and reduce stomach acidity. However, the study was conducted in the lab, with more human research still needed. Reducing stomach acidity may also cause problems since the acid is responsible for killing germs, harmful bacteria, and digestion and nutrient absorption.

Blood pressure and diabetes

A study conducted by scientists in Shanghai exhibited that people with high blood pressure, high blood liquid, and high blood sugar recorded lower markers after taking alkaline water for 3-6 months. Another study done in 2016 suggested that alkaline water with high-pH electrolyte helped reduce blood viscosity after exercise, signifying alkaline water may reduce cardiovascular disease linked to dehydration.

Though there is scientific evidence to ascertain some claims of the benefits of alkaline water, its proponents still believe that alkaline water has many health benefits due to its high negative ORPs. They claim the soft drinks that are high in acid and have positive ORPs have contributed to serious problems. Some of the claimed benefits of alkaline water include colon cleansing, immune system support, weight loss, anti-aging properties, and cancer resistance.

Potential risks and side effects of alkaline water

Alkaline water is often considered safe for drinking, but it may result in negative effects. Too much alkaline water may lower the acid level in the stomach, thus making it difficult to kill pathogens and harmful bacteria that could enter the bloodstream. Excess alkalinity in the body could result in skin irritations and gastrointestinal problems. Too much alkaline water may destabilize the normal body pH resulting in alkalosis, a metabolic condition that causes vomiting, nausea, muscle twitching, and confusion. In rare circumstances, alkalosis reduces the presence of free calcium in the body, which could negatively affect bone strength.

Natural or processed alkaline water?

Natural alkaline water is gotten when spring water passes through rocks, picking minerals that make it alkaline. However, most alkaline water sold in bottles at the markets results from an artificial chemical process referred to as electrolysis. The machining process utilizes an ionizer to help raise the pH level of the normal water to alkaline. Ionizer makers use electricity to separate acidic from alkaline molecules, and then acidic water is removed and alkaline water preserved. Some doctors argue that this process is not backed with science and that it makes no difference if the water source before ionization is contaminated. Ionization only separates acid molecules from alkaline molecules and does not sort out the impurities and contaminants that could make the alkaline water unsafe for drinking. Some scientists, too, propose reverse-osmosis for water purification to help make the water nutritious and alkaline without ionizing. However, the WHO warned against drinking water from reverse osmosis and other low minerals methods.

How can you find alkaline water?

Alkaline water is available in some supermarkets and other health stores or online shops. If you live in places of clear spring water, you can get your alkaline water in the springs; however, make sure it is clean and free of impurities that can cause health problems.

You can also buy water ionizers and use them to make alkaline water. If you do not have such a budget, you can use lime and lemon juices on the normal water to make them alkaline. Though these fruits are acidic, they have minerals that create alkalinity once they are metabolized and digested. It means that adding a squeeze of lime or lemon in a glass of water will help make it alkaline once it is digested in the stomach.

The bottom line

Alkaline water is water with high pH of about 8.8 and is often from the springs. Many people today buy alkaline water that has been processing through electrolysis with added nutrients and minerals. There is no science-based evidence to back the many claimed health benefits of alkaline water by its proponents. However, some studies associate alkaline water with bone strength, low acid reflux, stabilized blood pressure, and reduced blood sugar levels. You can access alkaline water in stores or make your own using lemon or lime juices.