Drinking enough water every day is key to healthy living. Water helps your body regulate your temperature and keep your joints lubricated, amongst other benefits. Brands market water in different forms ranging from alkaline to electrolyte-infused water.
One of the forms of water increasingly becoming more popular is hydrogen water. Researchers suggest that it provides certain health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and better cancer treatment.
However, these claims are backed up by insufficient research, and more examination and research are necessary to evaluate the advantages of hydrogen-rich water.
Does drinking hydrogen-infused water have an impact on your health and wellness? Is it safe or associated with risks? Is it worth giving it a shot? Read on as we cover the possible benefits of molecular hydrogen in this article.
What is Hydrogen water?
Hydrogen water is regular drinking water infused with additional hydrogen molecules. A water molecule comprises two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.
The idea behind introducing hydrogen water is that adding more hydrogen atoms to water can cause effective absorption of hydrogen by the body. Hydrogenated water is thought to produce more beneficial effects like antioxidant properties because of the free hydrogen atoms. This is in contrast to regular water, where the hydrogen molecules are all bound to the oxygen atom and are not freely available for use in the body.
Manufacturing companies sell hydrogen water in bottles or cans. You can also get hydrogen tablets that can be placed in drinking water to provide an extra hydrogen boost. Alternatively, some machines can produce hydrogen water at home.
What is molecular hydrogen?
Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a non-toxic, colorless, tasteless, odorless, and inert gas. It is the oldest and most abundant molecule in the universe that has shown different biological and therapeutic effects, such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Molecular hydrogen can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and this has a unique importance in clinical applications. It plays a beneficial role in diseases including metabolic syndrome, cancer, organ injury, and Parkinson's disease.
Hydrogen-infused water is an easy way to make hydrogen available for consumption.
Drinking hydrogen water – are there any benefits?
Hydrogen has some interesting properties. Its ability to scavenge for free radicals or reactive oxygen species gives it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Owning to its low molecular weight, it readily diffuses across cell membranes in the human body.
Here are some potential benefits associated with drinking hydrogen-infused water.
The antioxidant effect of hydrogen water is due to its ability to serve as a reducing agent. Some strong oxidants called reactive oxygen species (ROS) interact with molecules in our body (such as proteins and nucleic acids) and cause oxidative stress. Hydrogen selectively binds with these damaging oxidants to prevent their accumulation and, as a result, prevents excessive oxidative stress.
Atsunori Nakao and other researchers examined the effectiveness of hydrogen-rich water on the antioxidant status of 20 subjects with potential metabolic syndrome. From this study, the consumption of hydrogen-rich water for eight weeks resulted in increased antioxidant activity and reduced oxidative stress in the subjects.
Hydrogen water can serve as an antioxidant that helps in various diseases, like in the example above, it was concluded that hydrogen-rich water could be a preventive and therapeutic agent for metabolic syndrome.
Reactive oxygen species are implicated in inflammation response. Hydrogen in hydrogenated water can help mop out the reactive oxygen species and reduce the inflammatory response in tissue injuries.
Researchers conducted a randomized study in 2020 to investigate the effect of hydrogen water consumption on oxidative stress and immune functions in 38 healthy adults. Their findings suggest that hydrogen water reduces inflammatory responses in healthy adults.
Hydrogen water has the potential to reduce inflammatory responses.
Reduces oxidative stress
Pollution, drugs, and even our body's normal biological processes are all examples of what causes oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress can cause damage to cell and tissue components like DNA and protein. This damage is known to contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer and plays a role in the aging process.
Researchers suggested that hydrogen water reduces oxidative stress markers in a study conducted in 2013 on patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Oxidative stress is linked to many chronic diseases, and hydrogen water can be essential in treatment therapy.
Has anti-cancer properties
Hydrogen gas has been found to have anti-tumor properties in several cancers, like lung cancer. Researchers suggest that it can either reduce the side effects caused by conventional cancer therapy (chemotherapy and radiotherapy) or suppress the growth of cancer cells.
A 2020 study revealed that hydrogen gas inhibits the progression of lung cancer and might be an effective method for lung cancer treatment.
Another 2017 study showed that the consumption of hydrogen water by colorectal cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy helped protect their liver from chemotherapy-induced damage compared to chemotherapy patients who did not consume hydrogen water.
Hydrogen water may be helpful in cancer treatment and therapy.
Are there any side effects of hydrogen water?
There is limited data on the side effect of hydrogen water. Still, the little research data available has shown that hydrogen is well tolerated in the body and generally does not have side effects.
It does not react with essential body structures or affect important body processes. It also selectively binds to damaging free radicals or reactive oxygen species and leaves the beneficial free radicals that serve valuable purposes in the body.
Is hydrogenated water safe to drink?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes hydrogen water as safe, the (GRAS) status, meaning that it is safe to drink and does not pose any health risk.
However, manufacturing companies do not have a standardized concentration because there is no scientific study to determine the amount or the frequency of hydrogen required to reap its potential health benefits. Hence the concentration of hydrogen in hydrogen water differs from brand to brand.
Alkaline water vs. hydrogen water
Alkaline water is water with a high pH value, while hydrogen water is regular water with additional hydrogen gas dissolved in it. Just like hydrogen water, alkaline water also has some claimed health benefits that need to be supported by more research studies. These include detoxification and anti-aging.
Both are not known to cause severe or intolerable adverse effects. However, compared to hydrogen water, prolonged or excessive intake of artificial alkaline water is said to affect stomach acidity; as a result, it can disturb food digestion and cause stomach upsets.
Although hydrogen water won't harm your body, there is little research on the potential health benefits it is thought to provide. There is a need for more extensive trials to confirm these potential benefits. While it is okay to try it as a supplement, researchers are still determining if it has a significant advantage over regular pure water.
Limited studies have demonstrated hydrogen water to have potential antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties.
Due to these properties, it may be used as a supplement to help inflammation and reduce oxidative stress.
Hydrogen water can reduce the side effects associated with cancer therapy and may play a role in disease prevention.
It is not associated with dangerous side effects and is considered safe.
More extensive studies are necessary to give more science-backed information on the effect of hydrogen water on health and wellness.
- Oncotarget. Molecular hydrogen: a preventive and therapeutic medical gas for various diseases.
- National Library of Medicine. Reactive oxygen species - sources, functions, oxidative damage.
- J-STAGE. Effectiveness of Hydrogen Rich Water on Antioxidant Status of Subjects with Potential Metabolic Syndrome—An Open Label Pilot Study.
- ScienceDirect. Oxidative Stress - an overview.
- Nature journal. Hydrogen-rich water reduces inflammatory responses and prevents apoptosis of peripheral blood cells in healthy adults: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.
- Frontiers in Oncology. Hydrogen Gas in Cancer Treatment.
- Bioscience Report. Hydrogen gas represses the progression of lung cancer via down-regulating CD47.
- ScienceDirect. Alleviation of the chronic stress response attributed to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of electrolyzed hydrogen water.