It seems like alkaline water is the newest health trend to hit us this decade, claiming to be a “better” type of water, one that can help to improve our health significantly.
Water typically has a neutral pH, coming in at about seven, while alkaline water has a pH that is more alkaline, coming in at eight or nine. It is believed that this higher alkaline pH is beneficial for the neutralization of excess acidity, or correcting acidic pH which more people tend to have, and is attributed for a host of ills we face today.
Alkaline water also contains well known alkaline minerals, and must possess what is known as negative oxidation reduction potential, or the ability of to cause oxidation. A negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP) means that the water possesses antioxidant properties, which we know impart numerous benefits to our health.
Alkaline water is believed to help a number of conditions, and was developed following principles of artesian well water, which naturally has a pH of approximately 8.8. While some experts are not sold to the effects of alkaline water, there is a fair amount of evidence support its consumption.
Wondering how alkaline water can benefit you? Let’s check out what the most common benefits are:
Health Benefits of Alkaline Water
1. Management Of Acid Reflux
One of the most popular uses for alkaline water is to reduce symptoms of acid reflux disease. Even though this condition is characterized by enhanced production of gastric acid, alkaline water helps to neutralize this and deactivates an enzyme by the name of pepsin which is implicated in reflux pathophysiology.
Consumption of alkaline water can help to reduce the pH of stomach acid, which even though serves a purpose, can cause excruciating pain if ulceration develops. Long-term studies need to be carried out to investigate if adverse effects from chronic consumption of alkaline water would upset digestion or cause other untoward effects.
2. Cancer Therapy Or Prevention
It is extremely controversial to claim that alkaline water is a cure for cancer, with this ethical argument being at the core of some people’s dislike for alkaline water. In fact, many sleazy salesmen take advantage of this claim, and posit it as a miracle cure for cancer. This is highly irresponsible, and should not be encouraged.
On the other hand, it is very likely to assist with cancer prevention, as acidic pH is more commonly associated with the development of cancer. By helping the body to re-achieve a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, many oxidative processes come to a halt, and the risk of adverse cellular mutations occurring diminishes.
Interestingly, alkaline water may actually increase the efficacy of certain chemotherapeutic medications too, though by itself it will not cure cancer.
3. Helps manage Metabolic Disease
Metabolic disease including diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and even high blood pressure usually occur together, complicating health and wellness.
It was found that consistent consumption of alkaline water – over the course of three to six months, resulted in all parameters being improved. It was also found that viscosity of blood was thinner in persons that consume alkaline water, which means that an increase in heart rate and the risk of hemorrhagic shock is reduced in the event that dehydration occurs. This translates to less working pressure on the heart.
3. Anti-aging Properties
Antioxidant compounds can indeed work to slow down the aging process, which may be accelerated under the influence of damaging free radicals.
Alkaline minerals contained within the water help to buffer oxidative stress, and coupled with their negative ORP value, means that not a lot of excess damage can be caused. As you may have guessed, this potential benefit has caught on to the anti-aging crowds, being literally regarded as “the water of eternal youth”.
4. Strengthens The Immune System
It is well known that stress and excessive oxidative processes compromise the integrity of the immune system, making you prone to picking up infections.
Alkaline water supports healthy immune function by decreasing the oxidative load it has to bear. The higher the number of oxidative processes the body undergoes, more often immune cells may be recruited in order to neutralize potential threats. This of course, can lead to suppressed immunity if cellular turnover is faster than regeneration.
5. Supports Bone Health
Not surprisingly, alkaline water, which is fortified with alkaline minerals such as calcium, and ions such as bicarbonate, benefit your bones, decreasing the likelihood of mineral resorption occurring and leaving the bone matrix fragile and likely to develop disorders such as osteoporosis.
While this is a good thing, the difference between the decreased resorption of minerals by consuming alkaline beverages, as opposed to acidic ones is small at best.
It is more believed that alkaline water benefits your bones as less calcium is excreted in urine, since under normal circumstances it may be forced to accompany acidic ions.
6. May Help With Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disorders are characterized by the immune system abnormally detecting cells of the body as foreign, and attempting to destroy them in the process. Autoimmune disorders are partly believed to develop as a result of an over stimulated immune system; such as is the case in persons with chronic allergies or asthma.
By helping to support normal immune function alkaline water can also positively benefit management of autoimmune conditions.
Alkaline Water Side Effects
Alkaline water can also cause several undesirable side effects, which may interfere normal functioning of various body processes. The most commonly observed side effects include;
Reducing the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid could affect digestion, or worse, cause the body to lose one of its defense mechanisms, since many bacteria that come into contact with acid are destroyed before they can cause illness.
Decreased Blood Calcium
Even though alkaline water boasts a great deal of benefit on bone health, other body processes that rely on calcium may be impaired. Under alkaline pH, a great deal of calcium is removed from blood and stored in bone.
This can be troublesome since the body will be unable to get sufficient free calcium, making it important to strike a balance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from metabolic acidosis, this condition is associated with severe side effects such as uncontrolled muscle twitching and spasms, numbness or tingling nerves of the limbs or face, vomiting, confusion and delirium.
Just as how consumption of a primarily acidic diet can be harmful, so too can making your diet too alkaline. Though studies on humans that have consumed it for a number of years are not currently available, those done on rats showed growth stagnation, poor quality skin and hair, along with disruptions to oral mucosa, which may affect oral health.
Is it worth the time consuming alkaline water? From preliminary findings, the answer would be yes. However, it needs to be made very clear that you will not be attempting to shift your body’s pH to a degree that could end up causing metabolic alkalosis.
In moderation is the best plan of action – you should consume it to remedy the condition of acidosis, and allow your body to regain its neutral pH for optimal health.