Are there health benefits of drinking alkaline water?

Anonymous asked 4 months ago

Are there health benefits of drinking alkaline water?

1 Answers

Ramal Lakshan Staff answered 4 months ago

Alkaline water, in and of itself, isn’t NOT good. But the challenge with alkaline water is that it is selling you something at a premium whose value is far exceeded by its price, and as such, it’s a ripoff and a fraud.
Whenever you consume anything, the instant it hits your stomach the pH drops well below 5 into the acidic range. There are lots of ways you can buffer some of that acid- you can eat chalk, or antacid tablets, or other substances or foods that have a pH higher than 7, but in almost all cases, the body will naturally respond to this by excreting larger quantities of acid. This said if you’re hoping to raise your “body pH”, consuming alkaline substances isn’t going to work. It’s a nonsense claim.
Alkaline water can have its pH adjusted upward by any number of chemical means. In some cases, water is naturally alkaline, typically because the water is near to an excess source of minerals that naturally raise the pH. For example, in the area of California that I live, the water is naturally alkaline when it comes up out of the ground. Now, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
Water that is high in divalent cations such as calcium or magnesium, for example, if left to sit in (for example) a toilet bowl, or when it dries on the surface of a shower, tends to mineralize and form a hard, rock-like residue that can be very difficult to remove. So even though both calcium and magnesium are essential parts of the diet, it’s not always a good thing to have them present in your water when used in non-drinking-water applications. Also, if you attempt to brew tea in alkaline water, you will notice that the tea brews a much more dull, brownish color rather than a brighter red that appears in weakly acidic water (pH 6), and sometimes forms a scum, both of which aren’t things that people tend to prefer when drinking tea.
Also, with natural spring water coming up out of the ground, it might contain other natural minerals (and often does) that are NOT good for your health or are dangerous when consumed in too great a quantity. Waters in California, for instance, can have selenium naturally present, and selenium is an important trace mineral for the diet. But, if you get too much, you will very quickly develop selenium poisoning, and that’s not the only potentially harmful mineral that can be present in alkaline (or any) water. pH is clearly not the only important factor in determining whether or not water is safe and appropriate to drink. Simply knowing the pH of water doesn’t tell you anything about its relative healthfulness. The mix, and quantity of minerals and other substances present in the water matters.
In some cases, water is alkalinized by increasing the content of sodium carbonate salts. Irrespective of the “how” listed on the label, you can’t get water to be (or stay) alkaline without having the balancing buffering effect of a strong base combined with a weak acid, and the most soluble way to do this would be to add sodium carbonate to the water. The label might claim that this is done by “electrolysis”, or some other hocus pocus explanation, but simple chemical tests can confirm the actual mineral content, and if it doesn’t list those, it’s not likely to have any benefit: most of the studies that are shown to have a benefit have used water that has added some type of mineral to the water to make and keep it alkaline.
For example, if you shake distilled, deionized water (the “purest” water you can get) with air, you will dissolve a trace amount of carbon dioxide in the water, and the water will register as slightly acidic. I’d likely be suspicious of any claim that a bottle of water stays “alkaline” if there isn’t mineral content to buffer and keep the water alkaline, and the moment you breathe in the water and pour it, I’d expect the water to lose its alkalinity. To say nothing of what happens when it hits your stomach…
CAN alkaline water be good for your health? It’s entirely possible, depending on whether or not you drink enough water. There are dozens of potential health detriments if you aren’t getting sufficient calcium or magnesium, and even more, if you aren’t getting enough water. There may be some slight benefit if your body is out of balance for any number of possible reasons, but there’s no intervention trial evidence that alkaline water improves overall health outcomes nor proves that there is an adjustment in disease incidence or an increase in overall lifespan. It is very difficult to observe an effect due to the dozens of other health interventions that (rich first-world) people do, and we may never know the actual magnitude of the effect. At best, I wouldn’t expect the overall effect on people’s lifespan or health to be much more than an additional day or two of life, and there are lots of low-cost ways that are SO much greater in magnitude, such as reducing caloric intake, cutting out or reducing smoking or drug and alcohol usage, increasing exercise, and so on, that are actually DEMONSTRATED to have a statistically significant overall positive effect on incidence of disease and overall lifespan. If you do one of those interventions, you will not only live longer but in many cases, you will spend less money and have a larger amount of money available for other pleasantries of life. That’s why alkaline water is a false choice- you spend more money, and you get at most a vanishingly small benefit (that might disappear when you control for everything).
If you like the taste and don’t mind the premium price, there’s no reason to NOT buy “alkaline” water- just don’t expect it to have any premium benefits, and don’t expect it to be safer or more healthy than any other clean source of water (irrespective of pH) that you might drink.