Alkaline water has been marketed with bold health claims. It is marketed to detoxify the body, reduce bone loss, and even slow aging. In this article, we'll look into the science behind alkaline water and learn if it's any different than regular water.
Alkaline water typically has a pH between 8 to 10, claimed to offer health benefits.
Alkaline water's impact on body pH is minimal as the body maintains pH balance at around 7.4.
The health benefits of alkaline water are still debatable, and scientific evidence is limited.
Limited evidence supports the idea that alkaline water may improve bone health and hydration post-exercise.
What is alkaline water?
Alkaline water typically has a pH between 8 to 10, claimed to offer health benefits. pH indicates the acidity or basicity of liquids. pH ranges between 0 to 14.
|pH <7||pH 7||pH >7|
Since pH determines water quality, it is very important. Ions found in water determine the pH. If the water contains more hydrogen ions, it becomes acidic, while water containing more hydroxyl ions becomes basic. Other chemicals in water are also determinants of pH. Too low or too high pH water can contain heavy metals.
Alkaline water production methods
Alkaline water is made with various methods which are discussed in greater detail below.
One of the most common methods to produce alkaline water is through a process called ionization or electrolysis.
In this process, tap water passes through an ionizer machine containing electrodes, usually platinum and titanium. The ionizer applies an electric current to the water, separating it into alkaline and acidic streams.
Regular water can be turned into alkaline water by adding mineral compounds. Common mineral additives used include bicarbonate, calcium, and magnesium.
These minerals increase the water's pH level and make it more alkaline. Some water filtration systems or bottled water companies use this method to create alkaline water for commercial purposes.
Alkaline water filters
Some water filters are designed to improve water taste, and some to remove chemicals.
There are water filters that increase the pH of water. These filters may use a mix of mineral stones or cartridges containing alkaline substances to raise the water's pH and make it more alkaline.
Alkaline water drops or powders
Another way to alkalize water is by using alkaline water drops or powders that can be added to regular water. These drops or powders often contain alkaline mineral compounds that increase the pH level when mixed with water.
Can drinking alkaline water change the body's pH?
Alkaline diets and water are promoted to prevent diseases, even cancer. Research has shown that an alkaline diet can only change blood pH by 0.014 units and increase urine pH by 1.02. The results showed that although an alkaline diet can not change the blood pH, it can alkalize the urine.
Also, the American Institute of Cancer Research and the Canadian Cancer Society have stated that our bodies maintain systemic pH, and diet can only affect urine pH. Your body maintains a pH of 7.4. Acid-base homeostasis is achieved with the help of buffer, respiratory, and renal systems (kidneys). Therefore even if you drink alkaline water, your body works to keep its pH at 7.4.
Marketing claims need to be backed by science. Whether through diet, supplements, or water alkalizer machines, alkaline water hype is not supported by science.
Alkaline water and bone health
The claim that alkaline water can prevent bone loss is a topic of debate, and there is limited scientific evidence to support the claim.
The theory behind the potential bone health benefits of alkaline water is based on the idea that acidic foods and beverages can lead to increased acidity in the body. To neutralize this acidity, the body may draw on calcium from the bones, potentially contributing to bone mineral loss over time.
A study investigated how drinking alkaline water affects the bone density of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Researchers divided 100 participants into two groups. Both groups were given calcium and vitamin D supplements and Osteofos tablets. Only the intervention group received 1.5 liters of alkaline drinking water for 12 weeks, while the control group drank a placebo instead of alkaline water.
The results showed that both groups' spine and femur bone density scores significantly increased. The increase in spine bone density score was significantly higher in the intervention group. Therefore, the study concluded that alkaline water can improve spine bone density scores in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
Keep in mind that bone health is influenced by numerous factors, including age, genetics, physical activity, hormonal balance (particularly estrogen in women), and calcium and vitamin D intake.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and ensuring sufficient calcium and vitamin D intake are more established methods for supporting bone health.
It's best to consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about bone health or osteoporosis. They can provide you with screening and treatment if needed.
Alkaline water and hydration
It has been claimed that alkaline water provides faster hydration than regular water after an intense exercise session.
A study examined the effects of alkaline water on hydration status in cyclists after a dehydrating, intense cycling exercise. Ten male cyclists cycled until they were dehydrated to -2.5% of pre-exercise body weight. Following the exercise, cyclists were given either alkaline or bottled water in the amounts that the cyclist lost.
The results showed that drinking alkaline water resulted in significantly higher water retention at the end of the 3-hour recovery period. The study concluded that drinking alkaline water following intense exercise can provide faster rehydration.
No evidence supports that alkaline water increases energy, slows aging, detoxifies your body, or prevents cancer. Whether through diet, supplements, or water alkalizer machines, alkaline water hype does not match the science.
Moreover, the health benefits of drinking alkaline water are debatable, with very limited scientific evidence supporting health advantages over regular water. As with any dietary or health-related changes, it's highly recommended to consult your doctor before adjusting your water consumption or diet.
Is alkaline water superior to regular water?
Very limited evidence (only a few studies) supports that alkaline water can improve health by preventing bone loss and providing better hydration after sport.
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Influence of bottled water on rehydration following a dehydrating bout of cycling exercise.
- BMJ Open. Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer.
- International Journal of Experimental Pathology. Systemic and local effects of long-term exposure to alkaline drinking water in rats.
- United States Coast Guard. pH and Water.
- Cleveland Clinic. Here’s Why Alkaline Water Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype.