(by Jan Roberts) – Contrary to the belief that alkaline water can cure a multitude of diseases, chemical and physiological evidence suggests that excessive consumption of alkaline water leads to excess stomach acid production and causes health problems.
Alkaline water helps with diseases
Can alkaline water really help ward off disease, fight stomach acid, prolong life, and even cure cancer? Can the health benefits claimed by this new “miracle water” stand up to scientific scrutiny?
And more importantly, is there evidence that some types of “alkaline water” are even harmful to health?
There are many claims about the health benefits of alkaline water.
Whether they come from techno-wizards from Korea or China that get the “water ionizer” makers busily promoting plastic-packaged water, or from one of the many self-proclaimed “health experts,” they all share the same idea The basis: that “alkaline water” is not only good for the body but also represents a decisive weapon in the fight against all kinds of diseases and chronic health disorders.
Pros and cons of alkaline water
This article right here will take a close look at all the touted types of water, as well as the claimed pros and cons of alkaline water, and provide you with enough information to make your own decision as to whether or not “alkaline water” is truly essential to health, or not these claims are rather pseudo-scientific in nature. First of all, we will take a closer look at the pH level and alkalinity.
The definition of basicity
The common term “alkaline” used to describe a specific type of water is neither technically exact nor scientifically correct. How so?
Chemists represent acidity and base on a pH scale from 0 to 14.0 (although there are extremely acidic or extremely basic solutions that go off-scale). Acidic solutions have a pH below 7.0. Basicity (base value) or acidity (acid value) describes the ability of a solution to withstand changes in the pH level.
The pH of a basic solution such as B. Household bleach (NaOCl, sodium hypochlorite) is about 11.0. On a pH scale, which has a maximum value of 14, bleach is therefore highly alkaline. If sodium hypochlorite is to be mixed with a highly acidic solution such as hydrochloric acid with a pH of 2.0, approximately the same amount of the second solution is required to neutralize the first.
In other words, it takes about a liter of hydrochloric acid with a pH of 2.0 to neutralize a liter of household bleach with a pH of 11.0, using a new solution with a pH of around 7.0 ( = neutral) arises. The amount of dilution required must be identical because both solutions have highly basic or highly acidic properties. In other words, both solutions are extremely resistant to changes in pH levels. They are heavily buffered.
However, if you were to mix one liter of hydrochloric acid with a pH of 2.0 and one liters of water with a pH of 9.0 (a very high value for water), the pH level of the mixed solution would only drop to around 3 .0 to 4.0 increase. In chemistry, water is considered to be weakly buffered: it cannot withstand changes in its pH level, nor appreciably change the pH level of a heavily buffered solution. That is, water cannot produce a significant change in the pH level of hydrochloric acid or a base such as bleach unless another strong contributor dilutes it.
What does alkaline water mean?
The base value or better the pH value of water is exclusively determined by the following three factors:
Temperature: The temperature at which a water sample is tested is always recorded in laboratory reports and affects the pH value. The pH value of water at 50° C is e.g. at 6.55.
Dissolved Gases: Gases such as oxygen, which are produced during the electrolysis process in a water ionizer, raise the pH level, while carbon dioxide, which is found in dissolved form in rainwater, lowers the pH level by 1.0 to 2.0 units. In the laboratory, water is usually degassed before the pH measurement.
Mineral content: The most important factor in water pH is mineral content. Normally, the higher the mineral content in the water, the higher the pH value. However, this is not an absolute rule; the pH value is rather dependent on the type of minerals and gases. A chemist always measures pH in relation to the “base value of CaCO3” (the chemical name for calcium carbonate or lime). This reference value is necessary for the correct determination of the pH value because it takes into account the most important factor: the mineral content in the water.
Trying to determine the pH of water without taking into account temperature, dissolved gases, and total mineral content would be like reading the headlines in a newspaper without the text: the result is often misleading. Before we look at the role of minerals found in water, it is important to say a few words about low-pH water.
Low pH water
Except in volcanic sulfur springs, water can only have a naturally low pH if it is mineral-free.
Rainwater is mineral-free. In nature, rain falls to the ground, seeps away, and collects minerals on its way to the water table. The water then rises again through natural cracks in the earth and is enriched with other minerals on its way before it reappears on the earth’s surface as spring water. Catching rainwater interrupts the natural water cycle.
When water falls from the sky – a process similar to a distillation process – it often tastes acidic and has a pH below 7.0. How so? Water needs minerals to maintain its balance. If these are missing, it removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. The CO2 reacts to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), a harmless, weakly buffered acid, but this is why rainwater has a pH of 5.5 or 6.0.
Again, the water is not acidic in the literal sense. The pH meter only measures the carbonic acid, and these values can e.g. B. by oxygen, which bubbles through the water for a few minutes, can be easily shifted towards neutral. Due to water’s weak buffering, a low pH reading doesn’t mean the water is truly acidic or unhealthy, just as a high pH doesn’t mean the water alkalizes (i.e., “makes alkaline”) the body.
Other methods of removing minerals from the water in order to maintain low pH values are distillation or reverse osmosis systems. It should be noted that demineralized water, apart from rainwater, does not occur in nature.
Aside from possible environmental contaminants, the low pH of rainwater does not pose a health hazard and does not affect the body’s pH levels in any way. On the other hand, let’s take a closer look at the health effects of mineral-free water.
No minerals = dead water?
There was a time when all the leading health experts recommended absolutely pure water as the healthiest. However, over time and with new knowledge, opinions change. Or as a doctor once said:
“One of (by far) the wittiest men of recent times, Dr. Hans Nieper, opposed the long-term use of distilled water because it contained no minerals to give it a ‘charge’ and was thus purest H2O (which does not occur in nature).
There is (a whole series of) research papers showing that the need for minerals, which arises from the consumption of large quantities of mineral-free water, can no longer be met even by eating mineral-rich food.”
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) formed a committee of inquiry, the International Symposium on Health Aspects of Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water, which says it is working to:
“Composed of about 200 medical researchers, the symposium will review research studies showing possible links between insufficient magnesium intake and increased susceptibility to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and even type 2 diabetes, which appears to exist in regions with mineral-rich or hard drinking water lower likelihood of heart attacks and high blood pressure […]”
What the WHO is saying is that long-term consumption of distilled water can lead to mineral deficiencies and health problems.
If demineralized water isn’t healthy, what about alkaline water that contains minerals?
Minerals and alkalization
Spring water that contains dissolved minerals usually has a pH of around 7.0. This neutral pH reading is solely due to the presence of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. In the body, minerals act as natural acid buffers and support the neutralization of acidic waste products.
Does this mean that the assumption that mineralized water can alkalize the body is correct? Not quite…The mineral content of municipal water is negligible. The alkalinization effect would be too small to be measurable. Even the mineral content of spring water, which is higher than tap water, is insufficient to significantly affect the body’s natural acid-forming waste processes.
However, you can alkalize your body by consuming larger amounts of fruits and raw vegetables. These contain many important acid-buffering minerals and have a high water content, which supports the flushing of acid residues from the body.
Another option is to take “colloidal” or “ionic” mineral supplements. Again, minerals act as natural acid buffers and can supplement foods that have been deprived of minerals by modern farming practices. So what makes the body acidic?
There is robust research showing that eating too many processed foods, sugars and starches increases toxin levels in the body and leads to general hyperacidity. It is well known that certain diseases thrive in a body overloaded with toxins. These toxins are just the natural metabolic by-products of living and breathing.
So, if you don’t eat enough cleansing, alkaline foods like raw fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and don’t drink enough water to flush toxins out of your body, you can create an overly acidic cellular environment. Ultimately, hyperacidity is nothing more than the result of years of poor nutrition and dehydration.
And now comes the trap: If water promotes the flushing of toxins from the body and prevents new accumulation of toxins, isn’t alkaline water then even better at neutralizing the acids? Something alkaline neutralizes something acidic. That not only sounds good, but it also sounds logical, doesn’t it?
But as logical as it may sound: The assumption that the body can also be “made alkaline” (alkaline) with alkaline water is simply wrong. However, it is human nature to think that a lot helps a lot, and the possibility of a quick fix always sounds appealing. After all, what better solution to fix years of poor diet, lack of exercise, and chronic dehydration by simply drinking “alkalizing” water? Unfortunately, the idea has no basis and no substance.
Conjectures about alkaline water
If you enter the search terms “health” and “alkaline water” in the Google Internet search, you will get over 1,600 hits. The vast majority of links will direct you to manufacturers of so-called “alkaline water ionizers”. On their websites you will find i.a. Claims that alkaline water consumption may either prevent, reverse, or cure the following health disorders:
- high blood pressure
- bad blood circulation
- common colds
- Muscle aches
- urinary stones
- slow wound healing
- chronic fatigue
- gout and osteoarthritis
- morning sickness
- water retention
- Male cat
- body odor
The websites tell you that alkaline water could also cure a whole host of other health disorders (so many that it’s impossible to list them all). Doesn’t that sound too good to be true? Yes! To get closer to the truth, we must first take a closer look at these electronic water ionizers.
Basic water ionizers
Water ionizers work on a fairly simple principle called electrolysis, discovered in 1832, creating a chemically altered solution. Electrolysis uses a pair of oppositely charged platinum electrodes. As water passes the electrodes, a direct current reacts with the dissolved minerals, creating a chemically altered synthetic solution.
The positive ions naturally occurring in water are attracted to the electrical current at the electrode (cathode) connected to the negative pole. There they absorb negatively charged electrons (hydroxyl ions). Oxygen is also released during this process. The negative ions are attracted to the electrode (anode) connected to the positive pole and lose electrons, causing the pH level to drop. About 50 percent of the solution is what is known as “acid water” and normally ends up as waste water down the sink.
Alkaline water can undoubtedly have positive health effects if consumed in small amounts every day and used as a cure. For people who do not want to buy an expensive device for this purpose, we recommend alkaline activated water concentrates, which are taken in heavily diluted form for the duration of a cure (e.g. over 30 days). However, we advise against the long-term consumption of undiluted alkaline water with high pH values as the sole water source.