The pH in Alkaline water is higher than tap water. Many people who are into natural wellness believe it’s better for you than regular H20. It’s believed by some to prevent or even cure cancer. But is there enough research to support drinking it for health?
Tap water gets a bum rap in the U.S. Deservedly so if you live in places like Flint, Michigan. Or these other 25 cities (most of which are in Texas or California.)
But on the whole, tap water in the U.S. is relatively safe to drink. At least in comparison to the rest of the world.
Without doubt, though, there are contaminants in nearly every municipal water source. One of the alternatives to drinking tap water is alkaline water.
What is it?
The liquid has a higher pH than regular tap water. And it’s this reason that many natural health proponents believe it’s good for you.
Blame it on the Standard American Diet (SAD; an appropriate acronym). A high-carb, low nutrient-density SAD is thought to lead to the condition, acidosis.
According to Healthline, acidosis is when your body fluids such as blood contain too much acid.
Acid in itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, almost everything your body does produces acid, including metabolism.
But in healthy individuals, the body knows how to regulate itself.
Someone with acidosis, though, has difficulty regulating the body’s pH. Specifically, the kidneys and lungs can’t balance the internal pH.
The pH of your blood should be around 7.4. Those with acidosis have blood pH of 7.35 or lower.
Although the difference might seem miniscule, the difference between, say 6.0 and 7.0 is huge.
Where does it come from?
There are three main ways to get higher pH H20.
The first way is through a home appliance called a water ionizer. It takes regular tap water and via electrolysis (a current of energy creating a chemical reaction) separates acidic and alkaline particles.
Anything over a pH of 7.0 is alkaline.
These machines that turn tap water into higher pH drinking water can run a few thousand dollars. A more affordable choice is buying bottled water that has a higher pH.
The problem with drinking alkaline water from a bottle is the environmental cost. Consider that across the globe, $100 billion is spent each year on bottled water.
That’s a tremendous amount of plastic going into landfills or the ocean.
The third option is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly: make it at home.
Does It Improve Health?
That question is a hotly debated topic. Natural health proponents claim higher pH water offers many benefits, including curing cancer.
But is there enough research to support the benefits of alkaline water?
In short, there simply isn’t enough research studies involving humans to support its claims. However, there is promising research involving animal populations.
Let’s take a look at some of these studies.
Longer Life with Higher pH Water?
A 3-year study of 150 mice suggests that the experiment group given alkaline water lived longer.
The researchers suggest that higher than neutral (7.0) pH water slows down the aging process.
How? Perhaps the researchers aren’t too sure.
The mice given alkaline H2O had longer life spans. However, their organs revealed no tell-tale signs of better health when compared to the control group given tap H2O.
Good For Babies?
Early studies (like this one from 1995) show that alkaline water (AKW) supplementation may exert positive effects on body weight improvement and development in offspring.
But there are two obvious problems with this study.
Firstly, results in rats don’t necessarily mean the same will happen in humans. Secondly, it might be too risky to give pregnant human females AKW to test the health of developing babies.
That’s because each of the body’s organs has a different pH. Some organs run more acidic while others might be more alkaline.
The blood’s acid-base balance is delicately controlled.
Thus, it might be too risky to test sensitive groups such as expecting or breastfeeding mothers.
High alkaline water effects
It seems that the research on alkaline is inconclusive at best. At least when it comes to people.
What is known, however, is that in some people, AKW can cause problems.
For instance, people with kidney conditions might want to avoid drinking it.
The reason why is AKW contains minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It’s these minerals that raise the pH.
But in people with poor kidney function, the minerals can accumulate in the body. This puts further stress on the kidneys, which is the body’s main filtering organ.
It’s possible AKW can elevate potassium levels in blood, says this study in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences (JTS).
Although many people are deficient in the mineral, potassium, having too much of it in your blood can be dangerous.
In addition, the rats given alkaline liquid in the JTS study had damage to their heart muscle.
Perhaps this means that if you are somebody who doesn’t have obvious health problems, it’s best to avoid drinking alkaline. Your body is doing just fine regulating itself.
However, there is other research that offers promising evidence to support AKW’s use.
Can Alkaline Water Prevent Cancer?
This study claims it has several anti-cancer effects.
For example, it scavenges reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS creates free radicals. Too many free radicals leads to premature aging.
In addition, the study authors point to other research that suggests AKW lowers blood sugar levels.
Higher blood sugar levels may be a contributing factor in cancer cells.
The scientists wanted to see if their own research proved these claims. For the study, rats were measured for their body weight, fatty deposits and blood sugar.
The group of rats given alkaline water were significantly lower after 12 weeks. Furthermore, their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels were also much lower.
This research explains how AKW scavenges active oxygen species and protects DNA from oxidative damage.
Oxidative damage is also a contributing factor to cancer.
Alkaline water and chemotherapy
For those with cancer, can drinking water with a higher pH help with post-chemotherapy recovery?
Unfortunately, there’s no slap-in-the-face, definitive research on people that it can.
However, this research on dogs and cats suggests it can.
The study says that higher pH H20 increases the quality of life in pets with advanced cancer.
Naysayers will detract from the study because it wasn’t done on humans. Moreover, it only tests 22 dogs and 2 cats.
Alkaline water cancer myth
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, out of several dozen studies, one review of AKW contains no studies about AKW and cancer in humans.
Nonetheless, sales of ionizers continue to rise, despite their steep cost. Same goes for bottled high pH brands in stores.
The researchers quoted in the Medical News Today article conclude:
“Despite the promotion of the alkaline diet and alkaline water by the media and salespeople, there is almost no actual research to either support or disprove these ideas.”
Just Eat Your Veggies!
There’s a popular belief that eating too much red meat leads to acidic blood. But is that true?
Maybe. Maybe not.
When you eat something, it does not immediately raise or lower your internal pH. First, your food dissolves into ash.
And it’s the ash that dictates whether or not a food will raise or lower pH. However, not everybody agrees that certain foods affects everybody equally.
Which brings us to the Alkaline Diet. Celebrities and bloggers who follow this diet claim that eating lots of veggies and other natural non-meat foods will make the blood more alkaline.
However, WedMD says nothing you eat is going to substantially change the pH of your blood. “Your body works to keep that level constant,” says the article.
Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to eat lots of low-starch vegetables. And a moderate amount of low-sugar fruit.
If you have a health condition, seek professional advice. Ask a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor what their opinion is about AKW.
Without doubt, drinking higher-pH mineral water is better than drinking poor-quality tap H20.
However, according to this article, some toxic chemicals may thrive in AKW.
In conclusion, trust your body to do the right thing. Eat a low-sugar diet with plenty of essential fatty acids.
It may not be necessary to drink H20 that has a pH of 8.0 or higher. In fact, doing so may do may harm than good.
Hopefully, time will tell with more thorough studies on people.