Why would alkaline water be better than plain water? Alkalizing food and supplements are popular because they are marketed as lowering acidic levels in the body. There is some concern that having an acidic environment in the body can increase risk for certain diseases and promoting inflammation throughout the body.
However, there is not clear evidence that drinking alkaline water would have advantages over plain water for health benefits.
The regulation of pH level in the body is tightly regulated; any small change in blood pH can be lethal. The body regulates pH level from respiration, urine and metabolic processes.
The complexity of regulating body pH and how diet affects the body’s acid level is still being researched.
Some claims suggest eating acidic foods may increase risk for cancer, and drinking alkaline water may help lower cancer risk.
However, the American Institute for Cancer Research (1) does not promote drinking alkaline water to lower cancer risk.
Be wary of claims from alkaline water or other alkalizing supplements that promote health benefits, as these claims are not validated from research.
If you have any health issues or take medication, speak with your doctor before taking any alkalizing supplements.
Can alkaline water help with acid reflux?
One benefit that alkaline water may have over plain water is helping with acid reflux. A 2012 study (2) found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 was able to inactivate the enzyme pepsin.
Pepsin is an enzyme in the stomach that breaks down protein, and excess levels of pepsin could increase acid reflux.
Researchers concluded that people suffering from acid reflux may see benefit from taking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8.
Can alkaline water help improve metabolism?
Some claims of alkaline water of other alkalizing supplements promote that they can help improve metabolism. Drinking alkaline water over plain water will not offer any metabolic advantage.
There is no research to suggest drinking alkaline water will make you burn more calories or increase your metabolism.
Can alkaline water help neutralize acid in the body?
Drinking alkaline water over plain water has not been shown to significantly affect body pH levels. The body’s pH level is tightly regulated by many processes, and the pH level throughout the body varies greatly.
For example, the stomach is extremely acidic, but the small intestine is much more alkaline. The blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45.
Can it hydrate better than plain water?
There is no evidence so far to support claims that alkaline water can hydrate the body better than plain water. Regular water does a wonderful job hydrating the body.
The pH scale is used to determine how acidic or alkaline something is. The lower the number on the pH scale, the more acidic something is.
A pH around 7 would be considered neutral, anything above this is generally considered basic or alkaline. Anything under 7 on the pH scale is considered acidic.
Tap water usually has a pH of 7.5, and bottled water can have a pH between 6.9 and 7.5 (3). Alkaline water that is commercially sourced of artificially made from tap water can have a pH ranging from 7 to around 9 on the pH scale.
There is no evidence to suggest the difference in pH between plain water and alkaline water would affect the ability of hydrating the body.
Is there any benefit for drinking alkaline water?
Some alkaline waters that are considered from a natural spring source can be higher in minerals like potassium, calcium or magnesium.
Water passing over rocks can pick up higher mineral amounts that other water sources. In this instance, drinking alkaline water may provide a small source of minerals.
A down side for drinking bottled alkaline water is that they can be expensive.
In most Western countries, we are blessed to be able to drink plain water for free or get bottled water for a low price.
Also, if you have any kidney problems, drinking alkaline water may be harmful to your health.
You should consult your doctor before trying alkaline water if you have any kidney health issues.
If you don’t have any kidney issues, drinking alkaline water does not appear harmful. If you want to drink alkaline water, do it. However, there is not clear evidence that there are significant health benefits over drinking plain water.
Diet and pH levels
The way food is broken down and digested could affect body pH indirectly. Although blood pH is tightly regulated, the way the body buffers acid in the body can be at the expense of bone minerals.
However, the impact of diet and bone health has many factors beside the acidity of the foods you eat, and more research is needed for the effects on diet affecting pH levels.
A 2008 study (4) did conclude that drinking alkaline mineral water that also was a source of calcium may help lower bone breakdown.
Alkaline water that is a source of bicarbonate, which is alkaline, along with being a source of calcium could offer benefit for bone health.
Fruits and vegetables are considered alkalizing foods while some grains, meats and some dairy products are considered acidic.
In short, eating adequate protein with a high intake of fruits and vegetables may offer benefit for bone health, and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with many health benefits (5).
The body has tight regulation on blood pH levels. Drinking alkaline water over plain water does not appear to offer significant health benefit, although not many research studies have been done on the effects of alkaline water.
One research study did show drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help protect against acid reflux.
However, other claims from alkaline water that suggest it increases metabolism, fights cancer or offers metabolic advantages have not been substantiated from research.
Some alkaline water sources can be higher in minerals than other water sources, but purchasing alkaline water can be expensive.