In the ever-changing and evolving world of nutrition, it can be tricky to keep up with every trend.
One of the latest is alkaline water, and it apparently comes with numerous positive effects. People believe that it can reduce inflammation, protect against cancer, and improve your immune system. Some companies selling alkaline water have seen their sales increase by eighty percent in the last year. The trend is big enough that Coca-Cola already has an alkaline water product, and Pepsi and Nestle are both getting involved.
However, this health trend is based on some fairly shaky science. The handful of studies that have been performed so far have been quite small. So, take the supposed benefits with a pinch of salt, as with any new dietary fad. That said, let’s take a closer look at both sides of the table, and then learn how to make alkaline water from the comfort of your own home.
What Is Alkaline Water?
A Brief Lesson on pH
Everything sits somewhere on the pH scale, which measures how acidic or alkaline (or basic) something is. The strongest acids, like battery acid, are at 0 on the scale, while the most alkaline substances, such as caustic soda, have a pH of 14. Pure water is entirely neutral, and it sits in the middle at 7 on the pH scale.
There are some health links between certain lifestyle choices and having a more acidic pH in your body. Drinking alcohol or coffee, or consuming sugar might contribute to this, and the increased acidity has been linked by some to a higher likelihood of cancer.
Different parts of your body have a different natural pH. Your stomach acid, for example, is usually between 2 – 3.5 pH. Meanwhile, your blood is always slightly alkaline and fits into a very small range, just 7.36–7.44 pH. This little window is very important to your health, as falling outside of it can lead to metabolic acidosis or alkalemia, both of which can be life-threatening when left untreated.
Most of the possible benefits of alkaline water have yet to be conclusively proven or disproven by science. Even so, with a wide range of glowing reports from alkaline water drinkers, and celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow throwing their weight behind it, perhaps there’s some truth behind it.
Here’s what science has shown so far in terms of the potential benefits of alkaline water:
- Antioxidant effect – There has been some research that showed that alkaline water can act as an antioxidant. This reduces the presence of free radicals in your body and reduces the risks of illness and cancer.
- It might improve your circulation – A study conducted in 2016 focused on subjects who were dehydrated after strenuous exercise and who then drank alkaline water. It showed that they had reduced viscosity in their blood. This means that their blood flow was more efficient, which can also improve oxygen delivery and so improve performance and healing.
- It could make you live longer – If you are a mouse, at least. A 2016 study performed on mice showed that if they drank alkaline water, they lived longer.
- It might help with acid reflux – A 2017 study found that in combination with a Mediterranean diet, drinking acid water was just as effective as the standard medical treatment.
- It could help you poop more regularly – Being hydrated is important to regular bowel movements, so drinking any sort of water can help. A 2008 study suggested that alkaline water had beneficial effects on “digestive motility.”
- It’s hydrating – Hard to argue with this one. You are drinking water, after all. The benefits of proper hydration are too many to list here.
In moderation, there are no health risks associated with drinking alkaline water. But in larger quantities, it can have a number of harmful effects, including:
- Hypochlorhydria – This means that your stomach acid’s pH level falls too low, and this stops your digestive system from working properly.
- Metabolic alkalosis – This is when the body’s tissues have a pH that is more alkaline than it should be. Symptoms include:
- twitching muscles
- hand tremors
- tingling in the extremities/face
- Skin and eye irritation – According to a WHO report, drinking alkaline water with a pH of 10 or more can aggravate pre-existing skin issues, and it also causes irritated eyes.
How to Make Alkaline Water
Doctors suggest that, while drinking naturally alkaline water like real mineral water is safe, you need to be more careful with artificially produced versions. Home-made alkaline water contains fewer natural minerals, and it might have a higher pH than you expect. It’s a good idea to buy a pH testing kit and to check the levels of the water you make.
There are some methods you can use to create it.
Add to water in a ratio of 1/8th of a tablespoon to every 8 fluid ounces of water. Shake or stir the mixture, making sure that the powder has dissolved completely.
Avoid this if you are on a low sodium diet, as baking soda as a high sodium content.
These drops are easily available online or at your local health food shop. Different brands have different strengths, so you’ll need to check the bottle for the right amount to put in your water. They’re highly concentrated though, so it’ll just be a matter of a few drops. Again, a testing kit could be useful here.
Buy an Ionizing Water Filter Jug
It takes a few minutes for the water to filter through this kind of jug, and the filter needs to be regularly replaced. It is available online and in many home stores.
Install a Water Ionizer
If you want to commit to alkalizing your water, you can have a water ionizer directly attached to your home’s plumbing. The water that passes through the ionizer will be electrolyzed by passing it over positive and negative electrodes, and then separated by the ionizer.
Wow, You’re So Basic!
Alkaline water is making a big splash among dieters, celebrities, and lifestyle gurus. Many of the health benefit claims aren’t yet proven. But now that you know how to make alkaline water for yourself and your family, you can try it and make up your own mind.