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Benefits of Ionized Alkaline Water: Is It a Scam?

Benefits of Alkaline WaterAlkaline water has seen some recent trends for its potential health benefits, which include everything from slowing down aging to contributing to weight loss. However, almost all of these benefits of using alkaline water are scientifically unfounded. Learn more about alkaline water below.

The Known Benefit of Alkaline Water

Thus far, the only researched benefit of alkaline water comes from a study that compared the acid-buffering abilities of alkaline water with two popular brands of bottled water. Alkaline water had greater buffering capacities on hydrochloric acid compared to bottled water with neutral pH levels. This suggests that alkaline water could be used as a potential antacid to neutralize excess stomach acid and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.1

What is Alkaline Water?

Water is generally neutral, hovering around a pH of 7.0. It can be made more acidic by adding a positive hydrogen ion (H+) or removing negatively charged hydroxide (-OH) ions. This lowers the pH to below neutral 7.0.

However, at the other end, water can be made more basic, or alkaline, by removing hydrogen ions or adding hydroxide ions. Alkaline water is more negatively charged and has a higher pH than neutral water. Usually, alkaline water has a pH level between 8 or 9.2

Proponents of alkaline water say that the basic pH levels can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, which can thereby help to prevent disease. Others say that alkaline water may help to slow down bone loss. No current research supports any of these claims.3

What Happens When Your Drink Alkaline Water?

The stomach naturally produces stomach acid designed to break down food and support the absorption of nutrients. This stomach acid has a high concentration of hydrogen ions. By contrast, alkaline water is slightly richer in hydroxide ions.

When you drink alkaline water, the positively charged hydrogen ions from your stomach acids and the negatively charged hydroxide ions from the alkaline water react to form (neutral) water. The amount of stomach acid produced will generally overwhelm the alkaline water. This means that once alkaline water reaches your stomach and reacts with stomach acid, it is chemically neutralized and then overpowered by the amount of acid your stomach produces.

What Happens When You Overdose on Antacids or Alkaline Water?

If taken in excessive amounts, alkaline substances like antacids or alkaline water could actually be harmful to your health by contributing to metabolic alkalosis. This is a common disturbance that increases your blood’s pH levels, making it more basic.

How does the body deal with increased blood pH? Increased pH levels in arterial blood depresses respiratory centers, resulting in slower breathing. In other words, if you consumed enough of a basic or alkaline substance to alter your blood’s pH levels, your breathing would actually slow down. This is your body’s natural means of increasing the hydrogen ions in your blood and lowering the blood pH back to normal levels (usually about 7.35 to 7.45), a process known as respiratory compensation.4

Simply put, there just isn’t enough research that provides any evidence to support claims about alkaline water’s potential health benefits, and most experts say that regular water is perfectly fine. To date, the only documented benefit of alkaline water is as a potential adjunct for acid reflux.

However, even when it comes to its potential as an antacid, alkaline water is not nearly as effective as more commercially available antacids. Calcium carbonate tablets, like Tums or Alka-Seltzer, are significantly more powerful than alkaline water. For even more effective care for acid reflux and general support for health digestion, consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement.