What is Alkaline Water?
If you take a moment to peruse the internet for drinking water topics, you will find many health-related websites encouraging the use of alkaline water for drinking. But you may be wondering, what is alkaline water? Unless you have taken a high school or college chemistry class, this term may be foreign to you. Read below to gain a better understanding of the facts behind this particular health craze.
Alkaline Water Defined
Alkaline water is related to pH. The term, pH, refers to the amount of hydrogen in the water. The pH value can range from zero to 14 with a pH of 7 considered to be neutral. Any pH value below 7 is considered to be acidic and becomes increasingly more acidic as the number reaches zero. This is due to more hydrogen ions being present in the water. On the other hand, a pH value that is greater than 7 has less hydrogen in the water and increases in alkalinity as the number reaches 14. Much of the time, alkaline water is due to the presence of a mineral source like calcium carbonate.
Either extreme on the pH scale is unsafe for consumption. For example, it is common knowledge that we do not drink battery acid (pH=0) or liquid drain cleaner (pH=14) but now many health-conscious individuals are promoting alkaline water as the most healthy beverage to consume. In many areas, drinking water naturally tends to be more alkaline anyway, with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 8.5. But should you purposefully drink only alkaline water?
Benefits of Alkaline Water
One proposed benefit of alkaline water is that it can help to neutralize acid in your bloodstream. Blood is strictly maintained at a slightly more alkaline pH ranging from 7.35 to 7.45. Ingesting water or any other food item, whether it is acidic or alkaline, will not determine your blood pH level. This is because your kidneys serve to regulate the pH of your blood. The kidneys maintain the pH level by excreting more acidic or alkaline substances in the urine. Oftentimes, if you consume more acidic substances your urine will be slightly more acidic with a lower pH but this is not an indicator of your blood pH level. Health experts say that if your blood pH is more acidic, it is not due to your diet but actually indicates that your kidneys are not functioning normally, possibly due to a serious health condition.
While alkaline water does not play a large role in helping to neutralize acid in your blood, researchers are investigating other potential benefits. Alkaline water may possibly help decrease bone resorption which is the process where bone is broken down and calcium is released into the blood. This is a natural process but can become excessive in older adults, leading to osteoporosis. In recent years, several scientific studies have suggested that when people regularly drink alkaline mineral water that is rich in bicarbonate, the level of parathyroid hormone (PTH) secreted by the body decreases. Since PTH is a hormone that causes bone resorption, decreased PTH helps the bones retain calcium. The Mayo Clinic ,however, warns that more research is needed since it is unknown if alkaline water influences overall bone mineral density. Furthermore, these studies were only performed on a short-term basis (four weeks). Long-term benefits of drinking alkaline water are largely unknown at this time.
It is very important to drink plenty of water but, as with any health craze, be sure to research the topic of alkaline water carefully before you decide to only consume this particular type of water.