Did you know that you can level up your water intake by drinking alkaline water? In this post, we explain what alkaline water is and how drinking it can have a positive effect on your health. Let's dive in!
Understanding Alkalinity, Acidity, and pH Levels
Drinking plenty of water is always beneficial to the body. While it is possible to go a few days without food, one will not survive long without water. An average adult body is composed of about 50 to 60 percent water. Just losing two percent of water content in the body can lead to dehydration and cause reduced performance, impaired concentration, and fatigue. It is widely recommended to drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
However, what kind of water should you drink? As it happens, you can enjoy significant benefits by drinking alkaline water. Alkalinity is the capacity of water to neutralize acids. pH is used to describe how basic or acidic a liquid is. When the two opposites alkali and acidic are present in a solution, they neutralize each other. Alkaline solutions (also known as basic solutions) have a high hydrogen potential and can readily combine with hydrogen molecules. Acids have low hydrogen potential and will not readily merge with hydrogen molecules. When an alkali substance is added to an acidic mixture, it causes a reaction that results in neutralization.
Some naturally occurring alkali include metals such as lithium, sodium, copper, potassium, rubidium, and cesium. Foods that are alkali include almonds, asparagus, avocado, and broccoli. Diets such as the alkaline diet are said to help the body maintain an alkaline state and therefore provide more energy, assist in weight loss, and prevent certain diseases.
On the other hand, naturally acidic substances include hydrochloric acid (the stomach’s digestive compound), nitric acid, and sulfuric acid. Food that can be acidic when processed by the body include sugar, grains, meat, fish, and sodas. Consuming too much acidic food can cause adverse effects on the health and may make your body more susceptible to contracting illnesses.
Substances with 1 to 6.5 pH level are acidic, while solutions that have pH levels above 7 are alkaline. With the red litmus paper test (used for alkaline pH tests), the paper will turn blue when dipped in an alkaline substance. The red paper will remain as is when it comes into contact with an acidic or neutral solution. pH test strips can also be used for a more accurate reading. These strips also change color when they come into contact with acidic or alkaline substances. An indicator numbered with the pH level and a corresponding color scale is used to match the result of the strip after it has been dipped into a solution.
What’s Wrong with Regular Water?
Most tap water has been treated to suit practical uses, such as laundry, washing/cleaning objects or industrial uses. This may not sound very pleasant if you tend to drink tap water. Some types of water, like distilled water, may be stripped of essential minerals during the production process.
One case-controlled study sought to investigate how drinking water source and tap water consumption may be connected with bladder cancer. The researchers profiled the water source and corresponding residential address annually. The researchers discovered that beverages made with tap water increased the risk of bladder cancer. Notably, the risk gradient of the intake was found in persons who had a 40-year exposure to chlorinated surface water and was absent in respect of those who consumed non-chlorinated groundwater.
What is Alkaline Water?
The level of alkalinity in water relates to how effectively it can completely neutralize acids. Water typically has a pH level of seven. Alkaline water has a pH level boosted to around eight or nine.
How is Alkaline Water Produced?
One natural process that elevates the pH level of water occurs when water flows through springs and rocks. As water travels through these areas, it becomes naturally filtered and absorbs minerals from the earth. Manufacturers who sell spring water remove impurities and bacteria to make it safe to drink while retaining the minerals and other naturally occurring components.
One process for producing artificial alkaline water is known as ionization. The result of the process is known as Electrolyzed Reduced Water. The ionization process uses electricity to split apart water molecules and force the water into a greater state of alkalinity. Alkaline water machines often increase the pH of water from 7, or the “neutral” pH level of normal water, to an extreme pH of 12 or even 13, which is just short of the highest possible pH level of 14.
Reverse osmosis is another artificial method to raise the alkaline level of water. It is a process used to demineralize or deionize water by pushing it under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. The pressure used pushes pure water molecules through the membrane and leaves behind any bacteria, contaminates and minerals. The pure water can then be consumed while the contaminated water is discarded.
You can also make your own natural alkaline water at home by simply storing water in a copper vessel like a copper pitcher. Water stored in a copper vessel will become increasingly alkaline the longer it remains in the copper vessel, and the speed and degree of the alkalinization process will depend on various environmental factors, including the temperature of the water and its original pH level. In general, the natural alkalinization process will occur a bit faster if the water is at room temperature or slightly warmer. Very small amounts of copper are then naturally and safely absorbed into the water. This naturally ionizes the water and causes the water to become natural alkaline water.
When Was Alkaline Water First Discovered?
The birth of interest in alkaline water can perhaps be traced to Dr. Henri Coanda (1886-1972), a Romanian scientist, inventor, and Nobel Prize winner. He spent the latter days of his career investigating the longevity and health of the people in Hunza Valley, a mountainous region north of Pakistan. Burushos, the natives of Hunza, lived an average lifespan of 120 to 140 years, which greatly intrigued Dr. Coanda. Interestingly, another researcher named Dr. John Clark later found that the Burushos measured age by both personal estimation and calendars which could have contributed to the notion of longer lifespans.
Dr. Coanda's study was later carried on by other scientists, one of them being Patrick Flanagan who was heralded by Life Magazine as one of the top ten promising scientists in the United States. Flanagan first identified societies around the world who had the most extended lifespans. He settled on five regions and studied their lifestyles. He found that each of the communities had a diversified diet. The only common denominator Flanagan could hypothesize was the quality of water they drank.
He discovered that the source of their water was melted glaciers. The water that came from this source was soon termed “glacial milk” or “Hunza Water.” It was discovered that the surface tension of water was lower, similar to the type of fluid that surrounds the body’s cells. Flanagan attempted to replicate the quality of the Hunza water and carried on further research to improve it. Other researches have also acknowledged Hunza water’s unique qualities and sought to find how water can be put into an optimally ideal state that is beneficial to human health.
Benefits of Drinking Alkaline Water
Some benefits of consuming alkaline water include:
- Strengthens your bones and prevents osteoporosis;
- Improves muscle condition;
- Aids in nerve development;
- Keeps the heart healthy and controls blood pressure;
- Boosts the body’s metabolism and helps in digestion; and
- Functions as an antioxidant and supports the body’s detoxification process.
Below are summaries of some scientific experiments and research that studied the effects of alkaline water on the body.
One research study investigated the effects of drinking alkaline water as a supplementary treatment for reflux diseases. Pepsin, the enzyme in the stomach that breaks down proteins, can cause laryngeal damage in laryngopharyngeal reflux and esophageal damage in gastroesophageal reflux disease. The researchers attempted to determine if water with a higher alkaline pH level of 8.8 could inactivate the acidity of pepsin and serve as an acid buffer. The results of their study showed that the high alkaline water was able to subdue the acidic quality of pepsin. The researchers concluded that the high pH level of alkaline water could provide therapeutic benefits for patients with reflux diseases.
Another study explored how electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water can affect blood viscosity and evaluated biomarkers after drinking electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water as replenishment after exercise-induced dehydration. To easily understand the concept of blood viscosity, the study compares the consistency of blood. When the viscosity level is high, this means the blood is thicker and will make the heart pump harder. High blood viscosity can lead to fatal diseases and heart attack. The test included one hundred adults who were in good health and were asked to exercise in a warm environment until their body weight was slightly reduced due to perspiration. Some of the participants drank electrolyzed, high-pH alkaline water while the others consumed standard water. The results of the test showed that those who consumed the electrolyzed alkaline water had a reduced viscosity of an average of 6.30% compared to the 3.36% result of those who drank regular water.
Another research study was conducted to evaluate the effects of drinking alkaline mineral water in reducing bone resorption. The researchers noted that dietary acids could speed bone loss. The study involved 30 women who were randomly separated into two groups. Each cluster drank two types of water: one was calcium-rich acidic water and the other was bicarbonate-rich alkaline water. Although the results showed that the acid, calcium-rich water did not have any significant effect on bone resorption, the alkaline water remarkably reduced the levels of two hormones in the body commonly used by doctors to measure bone loss: parathyroid hormone (PTH) and serum C-telopeptide (CTX).
One study sought to discover the effects of bicarbonate-alkaline mineral water on digestive motility and gastrointestinal disorders. The researchers used Uliveto, a natural bicarbonate-alkaline mineral water. The study used rats as subjects and induced diarrhea and constipation with the use of loperamide. The subjects then consumed Uliveto water. The experiment found that the Uliveto water enhanced gastric emptying and concluded that it could provide beneficial effects on motility when bowel motor problems were present. However, there has yet to be research conducted to see if the same effects can be found in humans.
Is Drinking Alkaline Water Always Good?
The process of producing artificial alkaline water (using an alkaline water machine or an electrical ionizer) runs the risk of demineralizing the water. The World Health Organization notes several health risks associated with drinking demineralized water including:
- Reduced amount of calcium, magnesium, and other essential elements that could be absorbed by the body;
- Potentially increasing the dietary intake of toxic metals, which can be caused by higher leaching of metals that the water comes into contact with and lower antitoxic capacity caused by the reduced amount of calcium and magnesium; and
- Possible bacterial contamination of low-mineral water.
WHO suggests that drinking water “should contain minimum levels of certain essential minerals.” Some household treatments including electric ionization risk stripping away these vital minerals.
Precautions and Things to Consider when Drinking Alkaline Water
If you are thinking of making the switch to drinking alkaline water, you will need to be careful where you source the water. Alkalized bottled water may have had important elements removed during the production process that can be beneficial to the body. Some unscrupulous vendors can even package normal tap water and market it as alkalized water.
If you are considering buying a machine that can produce ionized alkaline water, be aware that the machine may remove essential elements from the water and demineralize it, causing more harm than good.
Overall, we recommend drinking natural alkaline water that contains essential minerals from a spring. You can also create your own natural alkaline water by using a copper vessel.