Alkaline Water: Miracle Beverage or Total Scam?


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Alkaline Water: Miracle Beverage or Total Scam?

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Hey there, I'm glad you're here because if you're like me, you probably love deep diving. There is a plethora of gold in the world of health and fitness, and there's also a bunch of BS. And today, we're going to figure out if Alkaline water is worth its weight in gold or if it's just another trendy health scam.

 

Let's start by briefly covering what Alkaline water is and the claims of its health benefits.

 

What is alkaline water?

 

Let's go back to middle school chemistry for a second. If you got past 6th grade and you're even semi-literate, you probably know what pH is. It's the measure of the acidity of a substance. The scale runs from 0-14. The closer the pH is to 0, the more acidic it is. The closer a substance is to 14, the more alkaline it is. 

 

Your standard, good ol' fashion water has a pH of about 7. Which means it's almost perfectly neutral. You can think of 7 as the goldilocks PH. Not too acidic, not too alkaline, just right.

 

Alkaline water, on the other hand, typically has a pH of 8-10. Thus, the term "Alkaline Water." Genius right?

 

So you might be wondering...

 

Does the pH of water even matter?

 

To answer that, we have to answer a more broad question: how does your diet affect your body's acid/alkaline balance?

 

When people talk about your body's pH, they're generally referring to the pH of your blood. But here's the thing: your body regulates your blood pH through the lungs and kidneys. And when I say regulates, I mean it REGULATES. Your body keeps a very tight grip on the pH of your blood, which is why your urine pH can vary so wildly. So can your body's pH change based on your diet? Yes, but only for a very short time before the lungs and kidneys work their magic and restore the proper pH.

 

With that in mind, let's look at the health benefits people claim when it comes to alkaline water and take a closer look to see if it's a fact or a fiction.

 

Claimed Benefits of Alkaline Water

 

1 - Alkaline water is more hydrating than regular water.

In a small study of 38 people, researchers set out to determine whether this claim was valid. They had half the participants drink regular water (control), and they had the other half of the group drink alkaline water (test). The findings were interesting. After two weeks, they retested the participant's blood. They found that the alkaline water group had a higher pH and slightly more viscous blood. This outcome suggested both better hydration and an impact on blood pH. 

 

However, there is a catch. The pH of the test group was only minimally different. The control had a blood pH of 7.58, and the test group had a blood pH of 7.68. Is a 0.1 pH difference clinically significant? I don't think it is. 

 

So, what is the verdict? Does alkaline water hydrate you better? Um... yeah... kinda.... maybe. But the research I found was of relatively small sample size, so it's a bit too shaky to be very confident in any conclusion.

 

2 - Alkaline water helps to maintain bone density

The claim here is that when your body is more acidic, that acidity draws calcium away from your bones and, over time, reduces your bone density. The inference being, alkaline water should then help avoid acidity and reduce your loss of bone density.

 

A small study of women over 75, who are disproportionately prone to osteoporosis, found that the women with more acidic diets were more inclined to osteoporosis than those with a less acidic diet. Saying, "High acid load may be an important additional risk factor that may be particularly relevant in very elderly patients with an already high fracture risk."

 

Although this study looked at the overall diet, not alkaline water, it does seem to suggest that a highly acidic diet can have negative impacts on bone density for women at high risk of osteoporosis. 

 

Another small study had 30 women drink alkaline mineral water or bicarbonate-rich water for four weeks. A control group drank regular tap water. The study found that the women who drank alkaline water showed less bone loss than the control. Once again suggesting that alkaline water can help avoid bone loss.

 

And while these small studies seem to indicate some bone density benefits associated with alkaline water, a much larger study of 6800 people seems to suggest otherwise.

 

In that study, researchers measured urine pH. The idea being that drinking alkaline water should contribute to a higher urine pH. After studying urine pH and bone density for some time, they found "Urine pH and urine acid excretion do not predict osteoporosis risk," which seems to contradict the small studies mentioned earlier.

 

So, what is the verdict? Does alkaline water help to improve bone density? Maybe... there isn't enough research to conclusively say yes or no. The analysis available right now is mixed, which means we can't make a conclusive claim either way.

 

3 - Alkaline water helps with acid reflux.

This one is interesting. Researchers studied the effects of alkaline water with a pH of 8.8. They found, "Unlike conventional drinking water, pH 8.8 alkaline water instantly denatures pepsin, rendering it permanently inactive."

 

Pepsin is the primary enzyme associated with acid reflux. High levels of pepsin are one of the primary drivers of acid reflux. Remember the antacid Pepcid AC? Well, you guessed it... Pepcid AC neutralizes pepsin. And according to this study, it's reasonable to believe that alkaline water does the same thing.

 

So, what's the verdict? Does alkaline water help with acid reflux? Yeah, it looks like it does!

 

4 - Alkaline water helps you lose weight.

The theory behind this claim is that fat cells help your body defend itself against acidity. Therefore, drinking alkaline water reduces your body's need for fat cells, and it becomes easier to lose weight.

 

This claim didn't pass the sniff test for me. It just sounds like total BS, doesn't it? Anytime I hear weight-loss claims that don't refer to diet and exercise, my BS meter comes to life.

 

It turns out there is only one study that comes at all close to addressing this claim. In the study, researchers monitored mice who were given high-fat diets. Half the mice drank tap water with their high-fat diets, and half the mice drank alkaline water. The results were surprising. To me, at least...

 

The mice who drank alkaline water gained "significantly less weight" than the tap water group. However, the findings are pretty exciting and suggest that alkaline water may support weight loss, but it's nowhere near conclusive.

 

So, what's the verdict? Can alkaline water help with weight loss? We don't know. But surprisingly... maybe.

 

To drink or not to drink?

The real point here, the true underpinning, is to be wary of big claims on magic new products. Is alkaline water a miracle beverage? No. Is it a total scam? No. We don't have enough compelling evidence to have a strong opinion either way. And that's the point. Too many people have strong opinions based on minimal proof. When it comes to your health, your confidence needs to be proportional to your evidence. 

 

So don't get sucked into the hype on this or anything else. Look for supporting evidence AND look for disconfirming evidence. You'll be more likely to make good decisions about what you put in your body if you can do that. Drink alkaline water or don't. Either way, just make sure you're drinking water.

 

As always, the choice is yours. 

 

Until next time... Stay consistent.

 

 

Study #1: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20836884/

Study #2: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19954569/

Study #3: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531513106005899

Study #4: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20459740/

Study #5: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22844861/

Study #6: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23811554/


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