Alkaline water seems to be causing quite a stir in the health field, with those in favor and opposed both passionately arguing their sides – one claiming it provides amazing health benefits, and the other arguing it’s a complete hoax. But to gain a better understanding of what exactly alkaline water is, we did some research and consulted several health professionals to shine better light on this supposed miracle beverage.
What is it? Alklaine water has a higher pH level than regular tap water, which is why proponents say it can help neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism, and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively. But according to Mayo Clinic Nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, RD, none of these health claims have been scientifically proven, and she recommends plains water as the best option for most people.
Proposed benefits: Since alkaline water supposedly contains healthy ionized minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, it’s thought to help reduce risk of suffering from symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, high cholesterol and kidney stones.
It’s also thought to have antioxidant properties and potentially reduce rates of heart disease, promote healthy weight loss, and improve bone density. But there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence to back these arguments up, leaving us to conclude that these are all just claims.
Is it healthy? Dr. Josh Umbehr, a practicing physician in Wichita, KS, says that alkaline water is a classic example of alternative medicine based on bad science. “From a chemical background,” he says, “You can’t change the pH of your body without being very sick. Your body is made of chemicals and proteins and enzymes that only function at a very specific pH level. Anything higher or lower than that and you’re sick, because the enzymes of the body can’t work. If your pH is anything other than 7.34-7.44 (average is 7.4), you’re probably dying.”
According to Dr. Umbehr, the reason you can change the acidity of your urine and not your blood is because your kidneys are responsible for regulating your pH, and they do so by kicking out extra acid or bicarbonate into the urine.
But alkaline water claims to protect the bones and provide other health benefits for that very reason: By reducing the acidity level of the blood. But according to DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, research has yet to verify those claims for the low-acid diet, let alone alkaline water ionizer. Alkaline water could be healthy and will not hurt, she says, but those ionizing-water filters added to the tap are expensive.
Mary also says excessive blood acidity is related to certain medications and diets full of animal products and refined starch and sugar, that raise blood acidity levels to trigger the bones to release calcium – an alkaline, into the system to restore balance. A proven way to prevent excess blood acidity is to eat foods that are high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains and low in animal products. Of course, it’s important to drink water, too, she recommends.
Where can I find it? In Asia, alkaline water is much more common and has been used as a health supplement for years. But you can make your own alkaline water rather inexpensively at home.
According to acidaklalinediet.com, all you need is a glass jug with a tight, screw-on lid and ordinary baking soda. Simply fill the jug with tap, distilled or bottled water, leaving enough space that it can be easily shaken. Then add half a teaspoon of baking soda and shake vigorously to mix. Lastly, test the water with a PH strip, which you can typically find at water testing supply outlets, such as pool stores. They recommend a pH level between 8.5 and 9. Besides the baking soda method, you can also use alkaline drops and tablets, which can be purchased online or at health food stores, or made with special alkaline water machines and filters.
Whatever side of the argument you may fall on, always be cautious before moving forward with any any health products and programs that are not scientifically founded. Be wise and consult a physician before making any such decisions to ensure sure you aren’t potentially harming your health.
May 9th, 2012