Alkaline Water FAQs
Three-quarters of the human body is made up of water (the brain alone contains 85% water), so it is very important to stay hydrated. Stress, dehydration, poor diet and environmental pollution can all contribute to an acidic body. Alkalizing your body prevents acidosis developing, a condition that prevents sufficient absorption of nutrients and manifests as numerous unpleasant symptoms such as confusion, vomiting and visual disturbance.
Drinking alkaline water perfuses your body with higher levels of oxygen, improving your skin, concentration, sleep quality and athletic performance while reducing the occurrence of stomach upsets and headaches.
Neutralizing the body’s acidity can also strengthen the immune system and protect against a large number of health concerns ranging from acid reflux (heartburn) and hypertension (high blood pressure) to diabetes and cancer.
Alkaline water’s health benefits arise from its ability to neutralize harmful free radicals. The filtering out of chemicals and pollutants from tap water also saves the body from having to deal with and eliminate them. Furthermore, for those who are trying to lose weight, drinking alkaline water can boost metabolism, accelerating fat removal and also keep the stomach feeling full, so not as much food is consumed.
Acidosis occurs when the body’s pH drops to acidic levels. This happens due to abnormal metabolism - either because the body is making too much acid or because the kidneys are not getting rid of enough acid and excreting it in the urine. The body works hard to keep the pH of blood around 7.40. If the pH drops to 7.35 or below, it is classed as acidosis.
Acidic blood occurs due to the accumulation of hydrogen ions or a loss of bicarbonate ions. Diagnosis is by testing the pH of arterial blood via a blood test and assessing other factors to determine the root cause. Symptoms of acidosis include headaches, sleepiness, confusion, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, visual disturbance or shortness of breath.
If left untreated, acidosis can lead to kidney stones, bone disease, loss of consciousness and even a life-threatening coma or organ failure. Although conditions such as obesity, diabetes, sepsis, cancer, dehydration or carbon monoxide poisoning can result in acidosis, it can also be caused by a high fat/low carbohydrate diet or excessive alcohol consumption. Treatment of acidosis depends on the underlying cause and is a condition that needs treating quickly. Even better is preventing the body from becoming too acidic in the first place.
Ion exchange is a common chemical reaction that occurs all the time all around us and in our bodies. The oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) measures the inclination of a chemical substance to lose electrons (oxidation) or gain electrons (reduction).
Oxidation-reduction reactions are known as redox, and ORP reflects the redox state of water. An example of oxidation (gaining oxygen) is when iron goes rusty. ORP is measured in millivolts (mVs); a positive ORP indicates that the substance is an oxidizing agent and a negative ORP indicates the substance is a reducing agent.
The optimum ORP for the human body is between -150 and -400mV. Most types of tap or bottled water have a positive ORP and are therefore oxidizing agents. However, ionized water has a negative ORP (the more negative, the better the quality). A water ionizer is an appliance that uses electrolysis (an electric current) to separate tap water into alkaline and acidic streams.
The alkaline ionized water contains a high proportion of hydroxyl ions, which are antioxidants (act as a reducing agent i.e. stopping oxidation) that can neutralize any oxidative damage to the body, such as that caused by excessive amounts of free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that take electrons from other cells).
Free radicals naturally occur in the body and can also be caused by stress, exposure to carcinogens, eating polyunsaturated fats and alcohol consumption. A healthy balance of free radicals and antioxidants prevents the free radicals damaging cellular DNA, contributing to the development of illnesses and accelerated aging.
The oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) measures the redox state of water, i.e. the ability of a chemical substance to reduce (gain electrons) or oxidize (lose electrons).
ORP is measured in millivolts (mVs) with a positive value meaning indicating an oxidizing agent and a negative ORP indicating a reducing agent. The optimum ORP measurement for the human body is between -150 and -400mV. The pH (‘potential of hydrogen’) of water reflects the ratio of positively charged hydrogen ions [H+] and negatively charged hydroxyl ions [OH-].
Acidic water has a greater concentration of H+ ions (pH less than 7.0), alkaline water has a greater concentration of OH- ions (pH greater than 7.0) and neutral water has an equal concentration of H+ and OH- (pH = 7.0). Unfiltered tap water tends to have a positive ORP.
ORP can be increased by electrolysis; oxidized alkaline water has a negative ORP value, meaning it can donate electrons to neutralize the detrimental effects of free radicals in the body. The ORP value that can be achieved depends on the original water supply; an ideal ORP may not be achieved if the original water has a pH of lower than 7.0.
As with any dietary change, it’s best to start with a small amount then increase gradually over time. Most experts recommend that humans keep hydrated with 2 liters (8 glasses) of water per day.
When you are introducing alkaline water to your diet you may want to start off with 1-2 glasses of pH 8.5 water for the first week then increase the volume and alkalinity over time. People with delicate health or those of advancing years should introduce alkaline water very gradually, such as introducing a small amount for two weeks to allow the body to adapt and ensure there are no adverse effects before increasing consumption further.
It’s important to remember that people take different amounts of time to feel the benefits; some people notice an improvement after only a few days, whereas others take a few weeks to feel the benefits. The best time of day to drink alkaline water is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It’s advisable not to drink alkaline water for about 30 minutes before and up to 2 hours after meals and medication. Alkaline water should be freshly poured and consumed as it can degrade if stored.
Healthy babies aged 6 months or older can drink 8−6 ounces of mildly alkaline water (pH 8.0 to 8.5) every day. However, it should not be used as a replacement for breast milk and should not be used to make formula or baby food.
Alkaline water should be avoided for 30 minutes before and after meals as it can disrupt digestion by preventing the breakdown of food by the stomach acids meaning nutrients aren’t absorbed. Any babies that are on medication should not be given alkaline water as it can interfere with the absorption of the medication, making it less effective.
It can be of particular benefit to babies who suffer from dry itchy skin. It’s best to consult your midwife or doctor before you make any changes to a baby’s diet. You can also drink alkaline water yourself while breastfeeding.
Toddlers can safely drink alkaline water (pH 8.5 to 9.0) – it is highly beneficial for their rapidly changing and growing body. Introduce small volumes at first until they are drinking 2 liters (8 glasses) each day.
Consumption of alkaline water is especially beneficial when children are transitioning off breast milk as the pH of alkaline water is nearer to that of breast milk than tap water. An additional benefit of alkaline water is that the ionization process purifies tap water removing other impurities such as chlorine, industrial chemicals such as herbicides, microplastics, and parasites.
Children are much more sensitive to toxins than adults, so it is far healthier for them to drink filtered ionized alkaline water. Toddlers will also benefit from the minerals in ionized water such as magnesium and calcium.
Alkaline water also provides a strengthened immune system. To make sure your toddler gets the best benefits from alkaline water, make sure you don’t give it to them 30 minutes before or after meals as it can disrupt their digestion. It’s also wise to avoid giving it to them with any medicine, as it can stop it working properly.
Alkaline water contains an abundance of minerals as well as antioxidants and can settle digestive upsets and reduce scratching and allergies in your pets. It is also thought to reduce the risk of pets developing diabetes or liver and kidney problems.
Dogs with hair loss or itchy skin, and elderly dogs with arthritis and mobility issues will especially benefit from drinking alkaline water. However, pets should never be given alkaline water to drink with meals as it will neutralize stomach acids that are vital for digestion.
When considering starting your pet on alkaline water it is advisable to consult a vet and to obtain pH testing strips, so you can make sure their urine doesn’t become too alkaline (ideally it should be around a pH of 6.4) as this can result in kidney stones. Many advise giving your pet's water with medium alkalinity (a pH of 8.5-9.0).
Sufficient hydration is very important for athletes as dehydration can impair their performance. During intense exercise, the body generates heat and produces sweat to cool down. You may have noticed athletes are often sipping water throughout breaks in a match/event to replace this lost fluid and prevent dehydration.
Research has shown that even very mild dehydration can have a detrimental effect on an athlete’s performance, particularly in sports that require stamina and endurance, rather than short bursts of intense activity. Drinking alkaline water with a pH of 10.0 may benefit athletes in several ways.
Ionized water is rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium, minerals that help eliminate toxins from the body. Furthermore, alkaline water is absorbed more quickly than pH-neutral water, so rehydration occurs faster when it is consumed. In addition, regular consumption of alkaline water increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which improves performance and stamina.
There is also evidence that athletic recovery time is quicker, as alkaline water helps neutralize lactic acid build-up. Alkaline water consumption can help prevent cramp in those susceptible to developing it. In general, consumption reduces inflammation and promotes a healthier immune system. Drinking alkaline water during training is also beneficial to athletes.
Many doctors agree that alkaline water possesses antioxidant properties. It’s common knowledge that diet plays a key role in good health and that the colon plays an important role in overall health. It is also widely reported that many health problems can develop when the colon is too acidic. A number of medical professionals agree that the only parts of the body that are meant to be acidic are the stomach, skin, sweat, and urine.
Acidity is thought to be the root cause of diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes. Scientists have even shown that cancerous tissue is acidic whereas the majority of healthy tissue is alkaline. Several doctors endorse the consumption of ionized alkaline water in counteracting the over-acidification of the body.
As with any health trend, there are some experts that believe that any health benefits from drinking alkaline water are purely the placebo effect. However, large numbers of people extol the virtues of alkaline water including several respected celebrities.
Furthermore, no studies have shown any harmful effects of drinking alkaline water. Most people that experiment with drinking alkaline water remain convinced they feel better for it.