Published: August 21, 2017

    Alkaline Water: The Real Deal or a Rip Off?

    Many water trends come and go, but ever since alkaline water was introduced a few years ago it’s maintained a relatively consistent profile. The manufacturers of alkaline water claim that the slightly less acidic water carries a host of health benefits, but the verdict on the water’s effectiveness is far from clear.

    First, you’re probably asking: what is alkaline water? Alkaline water has a pH level that is higher, or less acidic, than tap water. Your filtered water at home will have a pH level of 7.0, which is considered “neutral.”

    The idea of alkaline water evolved from the theory that selling water with a pH level more consistent with our body’s natural pH (which remains around 7.4 at all times) would be the healthier option. Alkaline water, including the once-popular brand blk water (which is black in hue) is rich in alkalizing compounds including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and silica.

    Websites that extol the many health benefits of alkaline water are websites of companies that sell or manufacture alkaline water themselves. Many third-party reviews take a more measured approach, and point out that, for all the perceived benefits of alkaline water, little research exists to back up these claims.

    It seems like we’ll fall somewhere in the middle, so let’s examine the claims of alkaline water from a scientific standpoint.

    The first claim that we should dismiss is the claim that alkaline water can fight cancer. While other benefits are within the realm of possibility, this is a particular dangerous claim to make without definitive proof.

    The idea that alkaline water can prevent cancer derives from the fact that cancer cells can’t thrive in an alkaline environment. However, drinking alkaline water is not proven to adjust the pH in your entire body, and it shouldn’t. As Forbes points out, no cells whatsoever can survive in your body in a high alkaline environment, so the logic behind this claim does not bear out.

    However, one claim of alkaline water is that the alkalinity is beneficial to athletes. The science behind this adds up: alkaline water can help athletes retain more water in their cardiovascular system, allowing them to stay hydrated for longer periods of time.

    Mineral supplements like magnesium and calcium are utilized by athletes to lower the stress on their cardiovascular system. Thus, it makes sense why alkaline water may be able to reduce fatigue given its chemical makeup.

    This comes with a caveat: if you have a kidney disorder the minerals present in alkaline water can accumulate in your system, posing major problems that can lead to unwanted side effects.

    Many websites, like the Huffington Post, reach a middling conclusion that alkaline might be helpful to certain people in certain circumstances, but the multitude of benefits listed by manufacturers of alkaline water cannot be verified until more studies are conducted.