You might have heard about this thing called alkaline water. You might even be someone who swears by it, pays a premium for it, and drinks it daily.
For those who don't know what alkaline water is, it is water that has a higher pH than tap or regular bottled water, which generally has a neutral pH. (For your reference, a pH of 0-7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 7-14 is alkaline.)
Alkaline water has gained popularity over the recent years because people have claimed that an alkaline diet and alkaline water help to prevent disease, such as cancer, by making the pH of the body more alkaline.
So is all the hype worth it? Let’s find out.
First thing’s first…
Different parts of the body function at different pH levels. For example, the stomach needs to be acidic to properly digest your food, while the blood needs to be slightly alkaline to work the way it needs to.
The body has an awesome thing called homeostasis, which essentially keeps everything in check. Think of it as your body's thermostat. In a properly working body, when things verge outside the normal range, the homeostasis will find a way to compensate and put it back into equilibrium.
Still with me? K, good.
If the blood is too acidic it deals with this in several ways:
One way is to excrete the excess acid in the urine. (FYI - Urine, and all excrement for that matter essentially consist of things that your body is trying to get rid of – in this case, it would be the acid.)
Another way the body deals with the low blood pH is by balancing it with something that is alkaline. To do this, calcium and other minerals are taken from the bone, which is obviously not great for bone strength.
Now here’s the thing…
A diet that is totally overloaded with acidic foods (protein and soft drinks) and majorly lacks alkaline foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes) is one way that the blood would get too acidic. But please please please note the italics and bold in that statement. It would take a very extreme diet to make the blood so acidic that your bones would start leaching minerals to compensate. And if you’re someone who has a diet that essentially lacks any fruits, vegetables, and legumes, a bottle of alkaline water a day probably won't help much. (At that point I would suggest a complete diet overhaul!) On the other hand, if you're already someone who has a balanced diet, (which you probably are if you're someone who is buying alkaline water to begin with) then your blood pH is probably just fine and you don't even have to worry.
Doesn't seem worth paying a premium for alkaline water, does it? Instead opt for normal bottled water, or better yet, free tap water. (That is, if your tap water is safe to drink.) Not only will your body not miss the alkalinity, but your bank account will happily welcome the extra money you save :)
One last note before I go...
Don't get me wrong – alkaline foods (ie. fruits, vegetables, legumes) do in fact help prevent disease such as cancer, but not particularly because they are alkaline. It’s because they are full of awesome antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber -- things that have been scientifically shown to help prevent disease and promote health!