Alkaline Water: Health Benefits, Side-Effects & Risks

Janis

By Janis | Updated December 4, 2023

Alkaline water has gained popularity recently, with some claiming it offers various health benefits. This type of water has a higher pH level than regular tap or spring water, making it less acidic and more alkaline.

Proponents of alkaline water believe it can help regulate your body’s pH levels, slow aging, and even prevent chronic diseases like cancer. However, it’s essential to note that most experts maintain that alkaline water is not significantly better than plain water for the average person.

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water has a pH level higher than regular or neutral water. Neutral water has a pH level of 7, while alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or higher. 

On the pH scale, a lower pH indicates acidic substances, and a higher pH indicates basic or alkaline substances.

Water becomes alkaline when it contains minerals like potassium, magnesium, bicarbonate, and sodium. These minerals can be naturally present in some water sources, such as when water passes over rocks and streams. 

However, commercially available alkaline water usually undergoes an electrolysis process, where an ionizer separates water into acidic and alkaline components, raising its pH level.

The electrolysis process also generates hydrogen molecules, which some proponents believe can provide antioxidant benefits. It is important to note that your body maintains its pH levels through homeostasis, ensuring it remains neither too acidic nor too alkaline.

You can make alkaline water at home by adding baking soda to neutral water. However, be aware that overconsumption of alkaline water can lead to alkalosis.

Available Types of Drinking Water

Each type of water, whether tap, mineral, spring, sparkling, or distilled, has different characteristics shaped by its origin, treatment processes, and mineral composition.

Processed or Treated

Alkaline water, with a pH level of 8 or 9, claims health benefits, suggesting it neutralizes acid in the body and boosts hydration. 

Various brands are available, and the benefits are still under research.

Tap water is the most frequently used. It undergoes processing to remove harmful contaminants and is convenient for households. However, mineral composition and pH can vary region by region.

Purified water is processed to remove all impurities. Depending on the purification method, it might still contain some minerals.

Distilled water undergoes distillation to remove impurities, which strips minerals and results in a neutral pH.

Naturally Sourced

Mineral water, sourced from underground reservoirs and springs, contains minerals like magnesium and calcium. It’s usually more alkaline than tap water.

Spring or glacier water is sourced directly from springs or glaciers and contains natural minerals. Their quality varies based on the source.

With Added Components

Carbonated by adding carbon dioxide, Sparkling water has a mildly acidic pH due to the bubbles, making it less alkaline than regular water.

Flavored or infused water has added flavoring agents or is infused with fruits, which may alter the pH and nutritional value.

Is Alkaline Water Good for You?

Alkaline water is slightly less acidic than regular drinking water, with a higher pH level and alkaline minerals. Some research suggests it can offer health benefits, but not all are proven.

Hydration

Drinking alkaline water may improve your hydration status thanks to its mineral content. 

However, studies are limited, and you should drink water regularly for optimal hydration.

Digestion

Some proponents claim better digestion with alkaline water due to its impact on stomach acid. 

However, scientific evidence is lacking to confirm this benefit.

Weight Loss

There’s no solid proof that alkaline water directly promotes weight loss. 

Focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise instead.

Fitness

Athletes might find alkaline water beneficial for hydration and preventing muscle fatigue. 

This is due to a potential buffering effect of the higher pH level. However, research is still limited.

Immune System

The claim that alkaline water can help support a robust immune system is speculative. 

A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and exercise, is critical for immune function.

Decreased Bone Resorption

Alkaline water is believed to support bone health by decreasing bone resorption, the process by which bone cells break down bone and release minerals into the bloodstream. This could potentially increase bone strength and ward off osteoporosis.

However, while small-scale studies have shown promising results, comprehensive research is needed to confirm these benefits and understand the long-term effects of consuming alkaline water.

Remember, alkaline water may provide some benefits, but don’t expect it to be dramatically better than regular water. Stick to your nutritional needs and healthy habits for overall wellness.

Where to Get Alkaline Water?

When looking to purchase alkaline water, you have various options. 

Shopping for Alkaline Water

Many grocery stores and supermarkets carry bottled alkaline water. Check the labels to ensure the pH level is 8 or above, indicating its alkaline nature.

Online shopping is another convenient method to obtain alkaline water. Numerous websites offer bottled alkaline water or home filtration systems designed to increase water alkalinity. Make sure to read reviews for quality assurance.

You may also find alkaline water in specialty stores or health food shops. Alkaline water brands often target these venues due to higher demand for health-oriented products.

Home Alkaline Systems

For home use, consider purchasing a water ionizer or a filtration system that increases water pH. These systems can attach to your faucet or be countertop devices, providing a consistent supply of alkaline water for hydration. 

These devices filter and alter the pH of tap water, producing alkaline water on demand. It’s worth noting that not all ionizing machines are equally effective, so do your due diligence when purchasing one.

If you prefer natural sources, some freshwater springs have naturally alkaline water. Research local springs and test their pH levels to verify whether the water meets your alkalinity preference.

Be aware that alkaline water is not suitable as a replacement for soda or high-acid beverages. Drinking alkaline water helps with hydration, while those beverages may counteract its benefits.

Alkaline Water Side Effects

Though alkaline water is often promoted for its potential health benefits, it may have side effects and risks to consider. 

Metabolic Alkalosis

One such side effect is the possibility of developing metabolic alkalosis, a condition in which the body’s pH levels become too high. 

This can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and muscle twitching.

Gastric Reflux

Drinking too much alkaline water might also exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in some individuals, as it may lessen the acidity levels in the stomach, disrupting its normal function and potentially worsening GERD symptoms.

As results vary between individuals, those with chronic acid reflux or other digestive disorders should consult a healthcare provider before substantially changing their hydration habits.

Hyponatremia

Lastly, it is essential to balance the intake of alkaline water with regular water, as overhydration can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. This happens when sodium levels in the body become watered down, which can cause symptoms like headaches and nausea and, in extreme circumstances, can result in seizures and a coma.

Is Alkaline Water Safe?

Alkaline water is generally considered safe to drink, but it’s important to be aware of potential health risks. When consumed in moderation, alkaline water can even improve digestion and alleviate acid reflux symptoms.

Individuals with Kidney Disease

For individuals with kidney disease or those taking medications to manage reflux disease, alkaline water may pose some risks. 

Be cautious; it could interfere with your treatments or exacerbate your health condition.

Chronic Diseases and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and other chronic diseases are sometimes linked to the acidity in your body. 

Although alkaline water claims to help balance this, research has not fully supported these claims. There is limited evidence to suggest any significant impact on bone density or other health conditions.

Aging

As you age, pain and other symptoms might be associated with increased blood viscosity, a condition alkaline water is said to help reduce. 

But bear in mind that these claims lack substantial scientific backing.

Relief of Stomach Acids

If you have an upset stomach, alkaline water might provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acidity. 

However, there’s no guarantee that it will substantially alleviate this discomfort.

Importance of Moderation

While alkaline water can increase urine pH and may help improve digestion, it’s essential to remember that drinking it in excess has the potential to disrupt the natural balance of your body’s pH levels. 

So, to reap any potential benefits while staying safe, consuming alkaline water in moderation is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does alkaline water provide health benefits?

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than plain tap water, which some proponents claim can neutralize acid in your bloodstream. 

However, more research is needed to verify these claims and prove potential health benefits.

What are the potential side effects of drinking alkaline water?

While alkaline water is generally considered safe to drink, excessive consumption may lead to an imbalance in the body’s pH levels. 

This can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle twitches. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.

How can one make alkaline water at home?

Making alkaline water at home can be achieved in several ways. One method is to add baking soda to a jug of water. Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda with two liters of water to slightly increase its alkalinity.

Another way involves using lemons. Although lemons are naturally acidic, they have an alkalizing effect on the body. Add one lemon (sliced) to two liters of water and let it sit for eight (8) to twelve (12) hours to create natural alkaline water at home.

Can alkaline water improve skin health?

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that alkaline water improves skin health. However, staying hydrated, including drinking alkaline water in moderation, can contribute to improved skin condition.

What are the pros and cons of consuming alkaline water?

Pros of drinking alkaline water may include a neutralizing effect on acidic waste in the body, improved hydration, and better taste compared to tap water. 

However, there are cons like potential electrolyte imbalances, high costs of specialty filters or bottled water, and limited evidence supporting health claims. Always consult your healthcare provider to determine the best water choice for your needs.