There’s no question — we absolutely can not live without water. But do we really need to drink alkalized water for our survival? Perhaps not for our ultimate survival, but maybe for longevity. Advocates of alkaline water believe it can help our bodies stay disease-free, and generally improve all aspects of our health.
What is Alkaline Water?
You may have heard the various health claims regarding alkaline water. Some believe it can help slow the aging process by regulating the body’s pH level. Some even believe it can prevent chronic diseases like cancer. But what exactly is alkaline water? Alkaline water is water that’s less acidic than your regular tap water. That generally means the water is rich in alkalizing compounds such as calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate, according to Ryan Adams for Precision Nutrition.
Advocates of alkaline water believe that it can neutralize the acid in your bloodstream and help your body metabolize nutrients more effectively. The word “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level. Acidity is something that’s measured on a pH scale from 0 (strongly acidic) to 14 (strongly basic, or alkaline). A pH of 7.0, in the middle of this scale, indicates neutrality.
On the pH Scale, Pure Water is Neutral
Consider battery acid. On the pH scale, it’s zero. This makes it extremely acidic, according to Science Buddies. Lemon juice — also highly acidic — registers at about 2.0. Pure water sits smack-dab in the middle (the neutral zone) at a pH of 7.0. Alkaline water generally has a pH of 8.0 or 9.0.
Does Everyone Need Alkaline Water?
The human body is complex. So, claims that everyone needs to alkalize their water can be misleading. Additionally, the scientific research regarding the benefits of alkalinity is somewhat lacking and by no means conclusive.
According to a study from the University of Alberta, the human body has an amazing ability to maintain a steady pH. If your pH is out of whack, it’s probably due to a diet high in processed foods, salts and sugar. Although the stomach needs plenty of acid to do its job effectively, a slightly alkaline environment allows the body’s metabolic, enzymatic, immunologic and repair mechanisms to function properly.
Your body continually strives to maintain a normal pH balance of about 7.0 to 7.4. But when your pH dips below the neutral zone, you may be at risk for some health problems.
We Live and Die at a Cellular Level
A poor diet, little to no exercise, over-exercising and chronic stress can all lead to a highly acidic internal environment. If pH deviates too far from either direction, cells become poisoned by their own toxic waste and die, says Dr. Natasha Turner for Chatelaine Magazine. “An imbalance in pH can cause serious health problems and can lead to the progression of most degenerative diseases including excessive systemic weight gain.” In fact, “Balancing your pH is widely considered to be the single most important thing you can do for your health,” says Turner.
According to Turner, the consequences of too much acid in your body include:
- Obesity, weight gain, sluggish metabolism and inability to lose weight
- Chronic inflammation, high blood pressure and diabetes
- Bladder and kidney conditions
- Weakened immunity and premature aging
- Joint pain, sore muscles and lactic-acid buildup
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Mood swings
- Slow digestion and constipation
- An overgrowth of yeast
Benefits of Alkaline Water
Alkaline water is highly debated and somewhat controversial. Some health professionals suggest there just isn’t enough research to support the many health claims. According to Mayo Clinic, although some say that alkaline water can help prevent disease and slow the aging process, not enough research exists to verify these claims.
Some experts say otherwise, suggesting that alkaline water might be helpful for certain conditions. For example, a study from the Voice Institute of New York found that drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 can help deactivate pepsin. Pepsin is the main enzyme that causes acid reflux.
Another study published in the Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that drinking alkaline water may be beneficial for people who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Meanwhile, the study from the University of Alberta concludes, “It would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that is plaguing our aging population.”
How to Make Alkaline Water
First, you’ll need to determine the pH level of your water, so that you can adjust your method as needed. Remember optimal alkalized water has a pH of 8.0 or 9.0. Also, use a clean water source, such as filtered or reverse osmosis water. Don’t use straight tap water, which may be polluted with high amounts of chlorine and even pharmaceutical drugs.
Alkaline Water with Baking Soda
If you’re health permits, and you are not on a low-sodium diet, baking soda may be one of the easiest ways to alkalize your water. Baking soda is alkaline and has a pH level of 9.0. For a gallon of water, mix in a half tablespoon of baking soda. Shake the water well until the baking soda dissolves completely. Once it has dissolved, you can have a glass.
Alkaline Water with Lemon
Lemon is so acidic, so, how could it possibly alkalize your water? According to Dr. Mee Lain Ling, outside the body, lemon juice is acidic with a pH below 7.0. But, when added to water, consumed and fully metabolized, its effect is alkalizing and therefore raises the pH in the body above 7.0 — which of course, is alkaline. Upon rising each morning, and prior to eating, squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water and drink.
I prefer to drink lemon water each morning to alkalize my body naturally, but here’s the bottom line: Drinking alkalized water may not be for everyone. If you drink too much alkaline water daily, you’re going to raise the alkalinity in your stomach. That could impede your stomach’s ability to digest food properly. So, if you decide to alkalize your water, make sure to use common sense. As always, balance is key.