According to a recent study, acidic water can have toxic effects on the body.
So if acidic water is so bad, does that mean that alkaline water is good?
As it turns out, it’s not as clear as you might think.
Some scientists say that alkaline water can balance the body’s pH and may even strengthen the bones.
But does alkaline water really live up to all the hype?
In this ultimate guide, we cover (almost) everything there is to know about drinking alkaline water (at least the important stuff).
“pH” is short for “potential of hydrogen.”
It’s a measure of hydrogen ion concentration in a solution like water or blood.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 14 being the most basic (alkaline) and 7 being smack-dab in the middle.
Every liquid solution, from human blood to the Pacific Ocean, can be measured using the pH scale.
Alkaline water has a pH of 8 to 9.
Your average tap water, on the other and, is around 7.5, although some water sources can be much more acidic.
But when it comes to nutrition, pH isn’t the only piece of the puzzle...
Alkaline water should also contain alkalizing minerals like calcium and magnesium.
These minerals help the cells produce energy, fight inflammation, and support nearly every organ in the body.
As good as alkaline water sounds, the jury is still out on whether or not it has any certified health benefits.
Some say it’s God’s gift to health. Others say it’s a bunch of fluff.
Let’s take a closer look at the wettest debate this side of the Mississippi:
Drinking alkaline water may help with:
They also believe that low-grade acidosis has long-term side effects that can silently undermine your health.
Early research supports many of these statements, but it’s still too soon to make any official health claims.
We’ll look into these studies in a sec, but for now, let’s hear what the other side of the tracks has to say:
Alkaline water might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
After all, the research is fairly limited, so it’s easy to see where they’re coming from.
You should be leery of anyone who makes bold, definite statements about the health benefits of alkaline water, because the science isn’t quite there yet.
Alkalizing the body’s organs is a complex process, and there are a lot of challenges around balancing pH.
Drinking alkaline water may not be the end-all-be-all solution to balancing pH, but it can be part of a broader health plan.
Supporters of alkaline water recommend a pH of around 8 or 9.
The best pH for the majority of the body is 7.365, although this fluctuates slightly throughout the day.
Saliva and urine, on the other hand, are slightly acidic, with a pH of 8.4 to 8.6.
Then there’s the stomach --- it prefers a pH of about 2 to break down food.
Alkaline enthusiasts believe that drinking water should be slightly basic (pH 8 to 9) in order to compensate for the overly acidic Western diet.
Here’s a look at the average pH of different types of water:
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pH is considered an “aesthetic” quality and doesn’t fall under their regulations.
However, they do loosely recommend a pH of 6.5 to 8.5.
But depending on where you live, your tap water could fall well below the EPA’s “safe” range.
Oftentimes, acidic water is a sign of pollution from chemicals and heavy metals.
Freshwater pH can be affected by natural events like weather patterns, and human activity like animal farm runoff.
However, a really high pH isn’t necessarily a good sign either --- it can make your water stink, damage your pipes, and harm your long-term health.
Many municipal water suppliers test for pH, but these tests aren’t always accurate.
If you want to take measures into your own hands, an under-the-sink water system, like Cloud Filters, can purify, alkalize, remineralize, and test the pH of your water.
Is processed alkaline water just as good as natural alkaline water?
Naturally alkaline water has a low pH thanks to the minerals it picks up as it passes through the rocks and soil.
However, most bottled alkaline water undergoes a chemical process, called electrolysis, that raises the pH by passing high-voltage current through it.
The electricity separates acidic molecules from alkaline molecules so that the acidic ones can be funneled out.
This isn’t necessarily bad for you, but there is a better way to alkalize your water.
Some scientists advise using reverse-osmosis to purify the water first, then alkalize and remineralize it with electrolytes like magnesium and calcium --- the final product is naturally alkaline water, on demand.
Your body is always hard at work keeping the blood slightly alkaline.
Regardless of the debate around the health benefits of alkaline water, one thing is for sure: the minerals in properly purified alkaline water are essential to nearly every function in the human body.
The four main alkaline compounds --- calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium --- buffer acids in the blood, strengthen the bones and support the heart.
Here’s a closer look at the health benefits of alkaline compounds:
Due to a lack of research, it’s hard to say if the potential health benefits of alkaline water are due to its pH level, its mineral content, or both.
However, it is true that pH plays a major role in overall health, and a handful of studies suggest that alkaline water may help with certain conditions.
Let’s take a closer look…
Here’s what the latest studies have to to say about the possible health benefits of drinking alkaline water, including:
What a surprise...alkaline water can quench your thirst!
The kicker, though, is that alkaline water may hydrate even better than regular water, especially after a workout.
One 2010 study found that drinking alkaline water for two weeks improved hydration better than regular water.
Then in 2016, researchers studied the effects of alkaline water on post-exercise hydration --- they found that high-pH water can help you recover from exercise-induced dehydration better than water.
Research suggests that drinking alkaline water may improve blood flow by reducing the thickness of the blood.
A recent study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition made an interesting discovery --- they found that drinking alkaline water reduced the thickness of the blood by 6.3%, compared to just 3.36% with regular water.
Blood thickness, or “viscosity,” is a direct measure of how easily blood flows through the veins and arteries.
By thinning the blood, alkaline water can boost oxygen delivery throughout the body.
Alkaline water may help strengthen the bones by supporting calcium function.
It’s well known that an acidic diet can cause the body to excrete more calcium and contribute to bone loss.
In other words, you end up peeing out all of your precious calcium!
However, some studies suggest that alkaline water can help control the hormones that affect bone metabolism.
In a recent study conducted by the Centre of Bone Disease at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, researchers found that drinking alkaline water decreased parathyroid hormone, a hormone that causes calcium to leach from the bones and enter the blood.
Patients in this study also displayed lower levels of bone turnover.
Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid gets backed up in the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, nausea and bloating.
Fortunately, early research shows that drinking alkaline water may neutralize pepsin: the main enzyme that triggers acid reflux.
One recent in vitro study found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 can deactivate pepsin.
Keep in mind that blocking pepsin is just a temporary fix, and it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of acid reflux.
High blood sugar and cholesterol can have devastating effects on your health, including diabetes and heart conditions.
Fortunately, some research shows that drinking alkaline water may normalize blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
One six-month study found that alkaline water reduced blood sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure in people with diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
A separate animal study found that alkaline water reduced blood sugar and displayed anti-diabetic effects.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too alkaline.
In general, though, most Americans are already too acidic, so drinking alkaline water shouldn’t be a problem.
However, if you already have a balanced pH, then drinking tons of alkaline water, and no regular water, could eventually make your body too basic (alkaline).
Ultimately, if you become too alkaline, you can develop side effects like indigestion and stomach ulcers.
Remember, the ideal pH of the stomach is 2, and anything higher than that can disrupt stomach acid production.
This can lead to bacterial overgrowth, infections in the small intestines, and make it difficult to absorb nutrients.
Severe alkalinity can lead to a condition called alkalosis, along with symptoms like:
With that said, most health professionals agree that alkaline water is safe as can be.
Acidosis is the overproduction of acid and the excessive loss of bicarbonate in the blood.
For the most part, though, the body does an excellent job of balancing pH.
The problem comes with unhealthy lifestyle and environmental factors that shift the body into an acidic state.
Some of the biggest factors that contribute to acidity include:
Before long, an acidic environment can overwhelm the body’s acid-base regulation systems.
Under healthy conditions, the kidneys balance electrolytes and pH levels, but when you’re exposed to acidic substances, you can start to lose minerals...fast.
When it’s all said and done, your organs are robbed of the nutrients they need to thrive, the cells can’t properly oxygenate or eliminate waste, and toxins start to build up.
At this point, your body has to work a lot harder to balance pH, and your immune system suffers.
So how do you balance pH and keep your body in tip-top shape?
Balancing your body’s pH is as simple as eating healthy, drinking smarter, and avoiding harsh chemicals.
Due to over-farming, todays’ agricultural soil is pretty low in nutrients --- combine that with poor eating habits, and you’ve got a recipe for pH-disaster.
That’s why eating an alkaline diet is one of the best ways to stop acidity in its tracks.
Here’s a closer look at the four most important steps to properly balance your body’s pH:
The first step to balance pH is to eat fewer acidic foods.
Here’s a list of all the most acidic foods to avoid:
This last one is the worst, because excess sodium can throw off electrolyte levels throughout the body, and that’s terrible for pH balance!
There are also some secretly-acidic, otherwise healthy foods that you should try to steer clear of, like:
You don’t have to avoid these entirely, but don’t eat too many of them if you think your body might already be too acidic.
Step two is to eat more alkalizing foods, like dense leafy greens and other foods that are high in minerals.
Here’s a list of foods to include in an alkaline diet:
Try to buy organic produce and grass-fed meats whenever possible.
Last but not least…
Although apple cider vinegar tastes acidic, it does not have acidic effects on the body, and may actually help restore pH.
One more quick note:
Some vegetables are better cooked and others are better raw.
Broccoli and cauliflower, for example, should always be lightly cooked.
Cucumbers, celery and wheatgrass, on the other hand, should be eaten raw for maximum nutrient absorption.
And remember...most high-protein foods, like chicken, are acid-forming, so if you eat a lot of them make sure to balance it out with plenty of alkalizing veggies.
Step three to balance your pH is drinking alkaline water.
Although it’s still too early to make any definitive health claims about alkaline water, the early research looks pretty interesting.
Depending on where you live, there’s a lot of variation in the pH of public water systems, and local governments don’t always do the best job of monitoring them.
Not only that, but tap water pollution is a serious issue (California and Texas are especially bad).
Toxic chemicals from manufacturing operations, nuclear waste, and dangerous metals can leach into your family’s tap.
If undealt with, these pollutants can throw your body’s pH out of whack.
The best way to solve this problem is to install an at-home water filtration system to remove contaminants, remineralize the water, and balance pH.
If you can’t afford a fancy under-the-sink system, carbon water filters are pretty cheap --- they don’t remove everything, but they're a good place to start, and you can alkalize your water the DIY-way with pH drops or baking soda.
Bottled alkaline water is another option if you’re in a pinch, but it’s best to stay away from plastic bottles because of the BPAs.
The fourth step to balancing pH is to avoid exposure to toxins and chemicals.
Unfortunately, drinking water isn’t the only place they lurk --- many conventional foods, household cleaners, over-the-counter drugs, and other seemingly harmless products can be acidifying.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like Advil and Tylenol, can also turn the body acidic if you take them too often.
Non-organic produce is another common concern because of the pesticides and herbicides used to grow them.
You should also be careful about the detergent you wash your clothes with and the products you use to clean your home, especially if you have young children.
When it all adds up, life can be acidic, but it doesn’t have to affect your family’s health if you don’t let it.
By now, you’re probably dying to know the pH level of your body!
You can test your saliva or urine with pH tester strips found at any pharmacy.
It’s quick, easy and affordable.
If you test your saliva, you’ll want to see a pH of 6.8 to 7.3 (remember, the optimal pH for the human body is 7.365).
The best time to test is in the morning before your first meal.
You can also perform the same test on your drinking water.
Water quality tester “pens” are a quick and easy solution --- just dip the pen into a water sample and wait a few moments for the results.
But pH pens aren’t the only option…
Cloud Water Filters, for example, regularly tests for pH, and you can check the results through the app on your phone 24/7.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to wait until your faucets rust and your water stinks before you take action.
Instead, stay ahead of the game and purify, remineralize, and test the pH of your water with Cloud!