The Truth About Alkaline Water Health Claims

These days, new nutrition and health claims and trends seem to pop up daily. One such trend is the popularity of alkaline water, which reportedly offers countless health and fitness benefits.

To help you separate fact from fiction, here’s a full breakdown of what we currently know about alkaline water.

What Is Alkaline Water?

A vital function of the human body is to maintain your acid-base balance. Acid-base balance refers to the acidity and alkalinity in your blood, which is measured on a pH scale, ranging from 0 to 14. Imbalanced pH levels in the body can negatively affect your health and wellness, so it’s important to stay within a normal range.
The Truth About Alkaline Water Health Claims - pH Scale
A healthy human’s pH levels typically hover around 7.4 on the pH scale, while pure water is 7.0, which is considered neutral. However, alkaline water can reach 8.0 to 9.0 on the pH scale! Advocates of alkaline water believe it helps counter the high acidity levels found in processed foods, which are commonly consumed in modern diets.

Where Can You Get Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water isn’t sold everywhere just yet, but more and more local markets and grocery chains are selling it due to the rising increase in consumer demand. Online delivery services and organic grocery stores are the most likely places you’ll find alkaline water available to purchase. You can also purchase at-home water filtration systems that make your tap water more alkaline.

How is Alkaline Water Made?

Alkaline water can be found in natural water springs or created through electrolysis, a process that filters out the acidic particles found in water. [1]

The Truth About Alkaline Water Health Claims - Alkaline spring water

What Are The Health Claims Surrounding It, and Are They True?

There are many claims regarding the health benefits of alkaline water. For instance, some people claim alkaline water improves hydration, expedites exercise recovery and protects the body from toxins. But it can be tough to know whether these claims are true, false or somewhere in-between.

To clarify the conversation, here’s a breakdown of the most common claims, and whether or not scientific research supports them.

The Claim

“Alkaline water improves hydration.”

Alkaline Water Hydration

We all know that staying hydrated is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Alkaline water advocates claim that because it contains more hydrogen than tap water, it can boost your hydration levels during and after exercise. Greater hydration means less fatigue and quicker recovery following exercise.

The Truth

A recent study found that alkaline water provided combat sports athletes with greater hydration, which helped enhance their performance during high-intensity aerobic training. However, despite the positive findings, the study was small, with only sixteen total participants. Conversely, a different study did not find a positive correlation between drinking alkaline water and improved hydration. More research on a larger scale is needed to determine if alkaline water does, in fact, boost hydration levels. [2][3]

The Claim

“Alkaline water prevents lactic acid buildup in your muscles.”

Alkalized water lactic acid
Have you ever felt a burning sensation in your muscles during intense exercise? That uncomfortable feeling is caused by the production of lactate in the muscle. Proponents of alkaline water claim that drinking it can neutralize the lactic acid in your muscles, alleviating exercise-induced soreness and fatigue.

The Truth

While the term “lactic acid” may sound intimidating, it’s actually a natural response that helps your body sustain energy during intense physical activity. So, there’s no need to neutralize it in the first place, making this proposed benefit of alkaline water irrelevant.

The Claim

“Alkaline water balances the pH of the body.”

alkaline testing kit
Many believe that the pH balance in modern-day humans is being thrown off by environmental toxins and an increase in the consumption of processed foods with high acidity levels. Alkaline water, as well as other all-natural food and products, is being touted as an active measure to help people counter these effects and maintain a healthy pH balance.

The Truth

The truth is, our body naturally does a great job of balancing out our pH levels! We have buffer systems in place that neutralize our blood if it is too acidic or too alkaline! These buffering systems include breathing, eliminating waste, and internal cellular functions. Also, the acidity of our stomachs neutralizes any alkaline foods or beverages we consume, likely negating the proposed benefits of alkaline water.

The Bottom Line

All in all, not enough conclusive research has been done to support most of the health claims surrounding alkaline water. And, the acidity in our stomach is likely to neutralize the pH of alkaline water before it has a chance to make an impact! For most people, regular tap water is a safe, budget-friendly way to stay properly hydrated. [4]

 

Sources:

[1] www.webmd.com
[2] https://journals.plos.org/plosone
[3] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
[4] www.mayoclinic.org

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written by

Kara Kash

Kara Kash

RD, LDN

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