Alkaline water has been a topic of much discussion among health professionals over the last couple of decades, which is primarily a result of the varied, and occasionally exaggerated, health claims made around it.
From curing chronic illnesses, such as cancer, to reversing the effects of ageing, alkaline water has a reputation for making miracles a reality. However, miracles are rarely supported by strong science, which in turn leads to sceptics taking a stance against them and whatever is believed to have caused them.
Yet, the reality of alkaline water undoubtedly lies within the borders of science, and while not every miraculous claim about it is true, it has been proven by a plethora of genuine studies to offer a variety of health benefits.
So, to clear the air, let’s take a hard look at alkaline water, focusing on the facts to separate them clearly from the fiction that so often clouds the subject.
Understanding Alkaline Water
To understand the science behind alkaline water, it’s first necessary to understand what it actually is. So, let’s start by answering that key point.
|What is Alkaline Water?|
Alkaline water is defined as being any form of water with a measurable pH greater than 7. This quality can be generated in many different ways, but it is typically caused by the presence of various mineral ions. It can be found naturally in some specific remote locations, but typically the required mineral ions are produced artificially through electrolysis.
This definition describes alkaline water and the basics of its production at a very raw level. Yet, despite this, it still throws in some important scientific terms such as “pH” and “electrolysis”.
The latter of these is a moderately complex topic and is best explained in our detailed article on how an ionizer functions. However, pH is a simpler topic that we’ll explore right now (If you already understand pH, click here to skip ahead).
At a basic level, pH is simply a scale of measurement for alkalinity and acidity ranging from 0 to 14. A pH reading of 7 is neutral, a reading lower than 7 indicates acidity, and a reading greater than 7 indicates alkalinity. Therefore, a solution with a pH of 1 would be highly acidic where a solution with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline.
For those interested in a more advanced explanation, pH stands for “potential Hydrogen” and it is a measure of the concentration of Hydrogen ions in a solution. The greater the concentration of Hydrogen ions in a solution, the lower it’s pH will be.
However, while interesting, a complete understanding of the advanced definition isn’t necessary to grasp the theory behind alkaline water. For the moment, you just need to understand the basics of the pH scale and how alkaline water relates to it.
What Makes Alkaline Water Special?
Now, at this point, you should have a stronger idea of what alkaline water actually is, but instead, you may well be wondering why that matters? What makes alkaline water better than regular water, and why would you bother drinking it?
Well, quite simply, alkaline water is superior to regular water because it’s alkaline. That property alone has been shown to provide a wide range of benefits, and while regular water is a great drink of choice, alkaline water matches it each step of the way while throwing in a whole load of additional bonuses.
Yet, while that is the case, you probably want to understand why. Unfortunately, that’s a difficult task to accomplish, as the science behind all of the associated health benefits varies case by case.
However, as a generalisation, imagine alkaline water as a tool to balance the body’s internal environment. Drinking it allows the body to provide ideal conditions for certain processes while limiting unwanted detrimental functions.
Is Ionized Water Different to Alkaline Water?
Beyond simply understanding alkaline water it’s also worth knowing the different types and names it is associated with. The most common name used in tandem with alkaline water is ionized water (or ionised for those of us in the UK). However, this alternative name frequently causes a lot of confusion.
Such confusion is understandable, as ionized water isn’t necessarily alkaline water and alkaline water isn’t always ionized. Yet, they have become somewhat synonymous due to their close relationship.
However, while their individual names aren’t necessarily the same, they pair together to form the most commonly discussed type of alkaline water. Specifically, alkaline ionized water.
Now, alkaline ionized water is a slightly different entity altogether. It has all the properties of regular alkaline water, but on top of that, it is ionized. In basic terms this means that it has a charge, or, in slightly more scientific terms, it has a reduction potential (sometimes referred to as an antioxidant potential).
This additional property unlocks the door to a plethora of extra benefits that can’t be achieved by regular alkaline water. As a result, it has been researched in many different studies and has shown a lot of very positive results.
Additionally, alkaline ionized water is often referred to by a few different names, including electrolyzed reduced water, Kangen water and Enagic water.
Electrolyzed reduced water is the most scientifically accurate title. Therefore, it is most commonly used when alkaline ionized water is being examined as part of a scientific study.
Kangen water and Enagic water, on the other hand, are simply terms coined by each brand. Kangen and Enagic are two of the better-known manufacturers of water ionizers, but the water produced by their machines isn’t different from the water produced by competitor products such as those from AlkaViva or Tyent.
The Benefits of Alkaline Ionized Water
So, we’ve talked a lot about alkaline ionized water offering a variety of health benefits, but we’ve yet to actually discuss what they are. Honestly, going through all the benefits in the detail they deserve is no easy or short task.
However, if you’re happy with just a summary for the time being, here are some of the most interesting benefits backed by studies.
- Trigger telomere shortening in cancer cells
- Reduction in neurodegeneration
- Prevent free radical-induced tissue and DNA damage
- Reduction in blood viscosity, increasing Oxygen supply
- Suppress the growth of cancerous cells and microorganisms
- Reduction of bone resorption
- Reduction in acid reflux through pepsin deactivation
You may well notice that some of these benefits sound similar to certain claims made around alkaline ionized water. Not all of the miraculous claims you hear are 100% true, but, like many myths and legends, their roots lie in fact.
A good example is an ever-popular notion that alkaline ionized water can cure cancer. Unfortunately, at this time there is no conclusive proof of such an effect. However, there is proof that it can help to limit the growth of certain cancerous tumours.
This type of correlation can be found with many of the more outrageous claims made around alkaline ionized water. In fact, most false claims are a simple result of an extreme abbreviation of the actual benefits that have been proven from research.
Is Alkaline Ionized Water Safe to Consume?
Oddly enough, despite its many scientifically-backed benefits and positive reputation, some rumours indicate that alkaline ionized water isn’t safe to drink. So, is alkaline ionized water safe for regular human consumption?
|Is it Safe to Drink Alkaline Ionized Water?|
Yes, alkaline ionized water is perfectly safe to drink when it is consumed as per the recommended guidelines. However, when misused it can cause minor short-term side effects. Additionally, if you have any notable health issues we recommend asking the opinion of a medical professional before getting started, to ensure it will not have any unforeseen negative repercussions.
To re-iterate that point, yes, alkaline ionized water is safe to drink. However, as we mentioned above, it’s important to use it in the right way. Luckily, misuse is unlikely to lead to any severe symptoms, but short-term side effects are possible.
Some side-effects caused by ignoring the recommended guidelines include:
- Dry Skin
- Slower Digestion
So, how do you avoid these symptoms? Well, for starters it’s important to give time for the body to acclimatise to a change in pH. Any sharp change to the body’s internal environment will typically always cause disruption. However, gradual change is easily accommodated.
Therefore, it’s best to start small by drinking weaker alkaline ionized water with a pH closer to 7. Then, every few days the strength can be increased bit by bit up to a recommended maximum of around 9.
Beyond allowing for acclimatisation, it’s also a good idea to not vastly exceed that recommended maximum limit. Small differences of around 0.5 aren’t of any concern, but regularly consuming alkaline ionized water with a pH greater than 10 can lead to worse side-effects over time.
In particular, frequently drinking overly strong alkaline ionized water can cause gastrointestinal issues or even metabolic alkalosis. Symptoms of such conditions can include vomiting, confusion, nausea and tremors.
All in all, it’s best to not push that far. It certainly won’t speed up the benefits that can be gained by drinking alkaline ionized water and sometimes it will negate them entirely. In this case, it is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.
How to Get Alkaline Ionized Water at Home
Now, it’s wonderful knowing all about alkaline ionized water, but you may well be wondering how you can get your hands on it. Well, for actual alkaline ionized water, there is only one real option, a water ionizer.
A water ionizer is a unique machine that is designed to take ordinary tap water and convert it into filtered alkaline ionized water on demand. They come in all shapes and sizes, and, as always, some are better than others.
As you can probably imagine, they use some reasonably complex scientific principle to achieve the desired result. If you’re interested in buying one, you can see our full collection here. Additionally, we’ve put together a clear comparison of many of the best ionizers currently on the market to help you find the best option for your needs.
Should You Start Drinking Alkaline Ionized Water?
Hopefully, by this point, you should have a reasonable understanding of the proven benefits of alkaline ionized water and how to get it in your home. However, you may still be on the fence about investing in an ionizer.
It’s a tough decision, as a quality ionizer that is proven to work doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s also tough to put a price on your health. We can’t tell you which way to go, but we strongly advise weighing the potential positives against the potential negatives.
Just remember, that if you want to get started with actual alkaline ionized water, you can’t buy it in bottles. Bottled alkaline water is available and offers some benefits, but don’t be fooled by savvy marketing into believing that it’s just as good as the ionized variant.