What is alkaline water? Is it any healthier than spring or tap water? Are there any caveats consumers should be aware of before consuming alkaline water?
Alkaline water is defined by its pH level, says Dana Ellis Hunnes, senior dietitian at RR-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. She’s also the author of the upcoming book “Recipe for Survival,” which is about how to be a healthier and more sustainable consumer. In short, pH is a measure of how acidic or basic — that is, alkaline — a liquid is.
Regular tap and spring water typically has a neutral pH of 7, Hunnes says. Most alkaline waters have a pH of 8 or 9.
Alkaline waters also contain minerals such as:
Is Alkaline Water a Healthier Choice?
Recent research suggests that alkaline water could provide some specific health benefits.
Research published in the journal Biology of Sport in 2017 suggests that drinking alkaline water “shows a positive effect on hydration status” after intense exercise. Consuming alkaline water was also associated with “a positive effect on urine pH during the anaerobic test protocol,” researchers concluded.
An earlier study in SAGE Journals suggests that consuming alkaline water “may have therapeutic benefits for patients with reflux disease.”
Minerals in Alkaline Water
Because alkaline water contains minerals, it’s important to tell your primary health care provider if you plan on consuming it, says Sandra Arevalo, a registered dietitian who is the director of community and patient education at Montefiore Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York. Ask your health care provider whether some of the minerals in alkaline water can interfere with medications you’re taking, she says.
Potential Dangers of Alkaline Water
Consuming modest amounts of alkaline water — say, a bottle every other day — won’t significantly affect your health, according to Henry Ford Health System. “However, if you drink a gallon of alkaline water daily, your body has to work hard to maintain its pH, and that means that over time, your body will produce more gastric juices and digestive enzymes,” according to the organization. For people who have a kidney condition or are taking medication that alters their kidney function, the minerals in alkaline water could start to accumulate in their bodies.
Drinking enough alkaline water to alter your pH could potentially alter your gastrointestinal pH, which could affect your blood pH and increase the risk for metabolic alkalosis. Metabolic alkalosis is a condition that occurs when your blood becomes overly alkaline.
Symptoms of this condition include:
— Lower leg swelling.
Severe cases of metabolic alkalosis could lead to agitation, seizures and coma.
Should You Drink Alkaline Water?
So, is alkaline water healthier than other types of water? There isn’t enough research to definitively say alkaline water is decisively healthier than other water choices, some diet and nutrition experts say.
“Overall data do not seem to indicate that alkaline water is significantly healthier than regular water,” Hunnes says.
Regardless, it’s important to drink plenty of water and to stay away from beverages that are high in sugar, says Tambra Ray Stevenson, a nutritionist based in Washington, D.C. She’s the founder of Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, a nonprofit in D.C.
“Though the research is thin regarding the health benefits of alkaline water, the science is clear that drinking clean water is valuable for our overall health compared to sugar-sweetened beverages,” Stevenson says. “So any opportunity to encourage people to drink more water, whether alkaline or not, is important overall.
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