- Proponents of alkaline water say it helps keep your body from getting too acidic, which prevents oxidative stress and staves off disease. But research shows that alkaline water doesn’t actually do much.
- Your biology doesn’t work that simply. You want certain parts of your body (like your digestion) to be very acidic, while other parts must be more balanced. Drinking alkaline water doesn’t affect your overall body acidity, nor would you want it to.
- Don’t spend money on alkaline water. Instead, invest in a water filter and drink normal, high-quality filtered water.
You may have heard that alkaline water is good for you. Proponents of alkaline water (and an overall “alkaline diet”) say that your body can get too acidic, which creates oxidative stress and leads to disease over time. Their solution is to drink alkaline water and eat alkaline food to bring your system back into balance and keep you healthy.
There’s no good research supporting alkaline water (or an alkaline diet). Drinking alkaline water doesn’t affect your overall body acidity, nor would you want it to. This article will cover why alkaline water doesn’t work, as well as what you really should drink to live better.
Alkaline water doesn’t change your blood pH
Proponents of alkaline water argue that your diet and lifestyle can change the pH (acid/base balance) of your blood. They argue that the food you eat leaves behind ash, and that the ash can either be acidic or alkaline, depending on your diet and the water you eat. The theory is that you want more alkaline ash, because too much acid is the root cause of most modern diseases, from osteoporosis to cancer. You can test your body’s pH by peeing on pH strips to see how acid or alkaline you are.
There are a lot of flaws to this theory. However, there are a couple things about it that are true. The first is that the foods you eat do leave behind acidic or alkaline “ash” in the form of minerals like sulfur (acidic) and magnesium (alkaline).
The second true bit of this theory (and the part that often convinces people that alkaline diets are scientific) is that foods do change the pH of your urine. That means if you eat an acidic food, you’ll see a change in color when you pee on a pH strip.
However, urinary pH doesn’t have any meaningful impact on the rest of your body. It’s just an indication of the type of waste products your body is eliminating. To really have an impact on your organs or major tissues, you’d have to change the pH of your blood.
Alkaline water and food do not change your blood pH. It’s a good thing they don’t, too — your blood pH has to stay in a very narrow range. pH exists on a scale of 0-14, with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline, and 7 being neutral. Your blood has to stay right around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. If it deviates just a little bit — 0.05 points in either direction — your organs will begin to shut down and, if you don’t get to a hospital quickly, you’ll die.
Does alkaline water prevent osteoporosis?
There’s a follow-up argument from people who push alkaline water. They say that your blood stays in that range, but it’s really too acidic, and your body is compensating by leaching calcium (which is alkaline) from your bones. The result, according to theory, is that eating too much acid-forming food will cause osteoporosis and make your bones brittle.
Again, there’s no evidence that foods leach calcium from your bones. Your kidneys maintain a steady balance of calcium levels in your blood and bones, and control your acid-base balance throughout many of your tissues. Unless you have severe kidney disease, you don’t have to worry about a pH imbalance in your body.
Drink filtered water, not alkaline water
Alkaline diets are a hoax, and alkaline water doesn’t have any meaningful effect on your body.
You’re better off investing in a high-quality water filter. It’s worthwhile to filter your water — especially if you live in the U.S., where a large portion of water infrastructure uses old and rapidly aging lead pipes. Recent research also shows that fluoride impairs your thyroid function, even at a dose that’s half the minimum amount in U.S. drinking water.
Save your money when it comes to alkaline water. Instead, buy a quality water filter — you have several good water filter options starting at as little as $30.