We all know hydration is important. But have you ever wondered if certain types of hydration are better for you than others? Let’s look at alkaline water specifically, as this option has a lot of advocates – and naysayers.
What Is Alkaline Water?
What is alkaline water? Well, to answer this, we need to back up a step and start with the basics: what is water? Most of us are familiar with the molecular makeup of water – H2O. But water actually has other qualities that can be evaluated, including its acidity level and its mineral composition (things like calcium, magnesium and potassium). As these qualities change, the flavor of water can change, too.
Alkaline water is the classification given to water samples that have a certain level of acidity. Measured in pH on a scale of 0 to 14, things with a higher pH are said to be less acidic and vice versa. Alkaline water usually has a pH of 8 or 9, compared with standard tap water which typically falls at a pH of 7.
Alkaline pH can occur naturally – in artesian wells, for example – or artificially in the lab using the process of electrolysis. In addition to containing alkaline minerals, alkaline water must also have a negative ORP (oxidation-reduction potential), which essentially helps it act as an antioxidant.
Is Alkaline Water Good for You?
Advocates of alkaline water claim that its lower acidity is what enables it to impart all sorts of health benefits. Essentially, the theory behind this is that the high pH level (lower acidity) of alkaline water neutralizes acid in the bloodstream. Research suggests that potential benefits of alkaline water may include slowing bone loss, improving digestion, and preventing diseases like cancer and heart disease.
There are a handful of small studies that seem to support these ideas. A lab study conducted back in 2012 found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help deactivate pepsin and possibly improve digestion. However, that study only relied on water that was naturally carbonated from an artesian well – not artificially modified alkaline water.
Another study in 2016 found that there may be a correlation between alkaline water and blood viscosity – essentially measuring how easily blood can flow through the vessels. That particular study suggested that participants who had consumed alkaline water experienced a 6.3% reduction in viscosity, compared to 3.36% for those who consumed standard purified drinking water.
Is Alkaline Water Better than Regular Water?
This is a tough question! And one that’s still being sorted out. Some doctors don’t think the pH of alkaline water makes a difference in the big picture of your body’s overall health – especially when factoring in more significant elements, like diet, exercise, genetics and lifestyle choices.
Though some research suggests that drinking alkaline water may have real benefits associated with it, it’s important to note that there has not been a significant amount of research conducted. While preliminary studies may be promising, the FDA considers the evidence insufficient.
But it seems like that hasn’t stopped those who feel strongly about the benefits of alkaline water – including marketing teams who use the theoretical benefits to bump up the price of alkaline water. There are plenty of options available for sale, including water that has undergone electrolysis to artificially change its natural pH level in a lab, along with natural alkaline water with unique mineral profiles. All things to keep in mind if you plan on trying alkaline water!