This is a place where we smash diet culture. Meaning, there is no room for fad diets, eliminating food groups, juice cleanses or glorifying "clean eating." This blog is meant to bring truth and shed light on the fact that ALL foods provide us with energy no matter what. Food is meant to be enjoyed and my goal is to ultimately remove the guilt and shame that diet culture may have taught you & nurture a positive relationship with food.

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September 9, 2019

Debunking the Alkaline Water Hype

“According to data from Zenith global, a food and beverage consultancy, the alkaline water market has grown from being a $47m business in 2014 to a $427m business in 2017. It’s projected to be worth well past $1 Billion by the end of 2019.” (1)

Alkaline water has been around for a couple of years now obviously but just within the last two years or so the market has gotten out of control due to “health boosting” claims these alkaline water companies are making.

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water refers to the pH level, meaning it is either acidic, neutral, or alkaline. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with zero being the most acidic, 14 being completely alkaline, and 7 being neutral. To put things into perspective for you lemon juice has a pH of 2, baking soda has a pH of 9, and water has a pH of 7ish.

Alkaline water has a pH around 8 or 9 which is caused by ionizing the water and is the process utilized for bottled alkaline water typically. Alkaline water does exist naturally, typically spring water has minerals in it which causes it to be more alkaline.

alkaline water bottles

Why People Think They Need Alkaline Water

The claim is that when the body becomes too acidic this causes a host of health problems and you can fix them by simply balancing the acidity with alkaline water. This is what we call pseudoscience, in other words extremely misleading information. Your body is an intricately developed system that does a phenomenal job of keeping its pH levels within a narrow range, also called acid-base balance. The range is very narrow regulating the pH to sit between 7-7.4 which allows for optimal performance of the chemical reactions that keep us alive.

Looking at bodily pH regulation our lungs and kidneys keep the pH of the blood tightly regulated between 7.35 & 7.45. So, in this case it doesn’t matter if your water is more alkaline or not because it will end up neutralized once you ingest it. You also wouldn’t want your blood to change pH because it would indicate an underlying health problem in your liver, kidneys, or lungs.

Sorry to break it to you but you can’t simply change the pH of your body by drinking alkaline water. Your body’s capability to regulate its blood pH in the narrow range stated above is all due to our enzymes being designed to work at a pH of 7.4. Which is why a highly varying pH would cause us not to survive.

Alkaline Water pouring

What are the So-Called “Health” Benefits?

Alleged Health claims include:

  • Can boost your energy
  • Aids in digestion
  • Strengthens bones
  • May help with acid reflux
  • Protective effect against cancer
  • Neutralizes acid in the body

These supposed “health benefits” are pretty far fetched when you start looking at the lack of science behind the claims. Almost all of the science that has been performed on alkaline water is being backed by the companies themselves. Along with the systematic reviews explaining that there is not sufficient evidence to state that alkaline water has any health benefits in humans. This is due to the fact that the research around this topic has thus far only been performed on animals. This always make it difficult to deduce that the same effects will occur in humans. (2)

Does Alkaline Water Affect the Body’s pH Level?

The only place in the body that alkaline water affects pH levels is in your urine. Most people have a pH of 6 in the urine which is acidic, this proves that our kidney’s are actually working. Studies have shown that drinking alkaline water may make your urine less acidic. However, this doesn’t really make a difference in your health rather you’re literally flushing your money down the drain. (3)

Citations:

1. Brissette, Christy. “Is Alkaline Water Really Better for You?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/is-alkaline-water-really-better-for-you/2019/08/27/8c646d26-c462-11e9-b72f-b31dfaa77212_story.html?noredirect=on&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief.

2. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Health Claims Letter of Denial – Alkaline Citrates.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/health-claims-letter-denial-alkaline-and-earth-alkaline-citrates-minimizing-risk-osteoporosis.

3. Heil1, Daniel P. “Acid-Base Balance and Hydration Status Following Consumption of Mineral-Based Alkaline Bottled Water.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 13 Sept. 2010, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-29.

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