It doesn’t seem enough to high five ourselves for getting eight glasses of water down the hatch these days. Now it seems we ought to ensure our water has the appropriate pH so we don’t accidentally tip our body into an acidic state.
Alkaline water, aka ionized water, is getting plenty of attention in the natural health sector. Its proponents claim the fact it has a pH of around 9 could not just increase our but even prevent cancer and diabetes.
(If you forgot high-school chemistry, pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. On the pH scale of 1 to 14, 7 is the pH of pure water; every whole value below that is increasingly acidic, and every whole value above it is more alkaline”. A healthy human body has a pH of a little over 7.)
Alkaline water is created by running water through an “ionising” machine that contains electrodes that are said to re-align your water in a bid to remove toxins and increase the pH.
The idea of drinking alkaline water or following an alkalizing diet is that the Western diet is highly acidic, which makes for a breeding ground for infection and disease.
If we can take steps to make our bodies more alkaline, such as by drinking alkaline water, then they say we’ll be in a much healthier state.
According to Choice, drinking alkaline water won’t harm you — but it probably won’t actually make any difference to your internal pH, given our bodies are experts at keeping our pH between 7.35 and 7.45 no matter what we eat or drink.
“If the blood pH goes above this range (that is, more alkaline) the lungs help regain control by retaining carbon dioxide (you breathe more slowly) and thereby increasing the carbonic acid levels of the blood, while the kidneys increase excretion of bicarbonate in urine, making it more alkaline,” Choice writes on its website.
Kara Landau, the Travelling Dietitian, agrees that our bodies have clever systems in place to support healthy metabolic function.
“On the whole, I would recommend people first and foremost simply try to drink adequate water and fluids, to remain hydrated,” she told Coach.
“This is of vital importance for our bodies to function at their peaks, and ultimately leave us feeling energised and able to take on the day.”
Landau says that different types of water have slight variances in mineral content so some individuals might choose to prioritise alkaline water.
“As an example, alkaline water is often higher in calcium and potassium, which someone who is looking to increase bone mineral density or improve their blood pressure may be looking to obtain,” she says.
“It is worth noting however, that that there will be ample alternative food sources that are denser options of these micronutrients that could easily be incorporated into your diet.”
Naturopath Emma Tippett from Empowered Health believes our bodies function optimally when we’re not too acidic, but she says there are a lot of contributing factors towards such a state.
“I look at things that cause acidity and inflammation in the body, such as processed foods, lots of sugar and lots of refined grain products,” she says.
“That’s why we tell people to eat lots of green veggies because they help to keep the body in a more alkaline state.”
Tippett says alkaline water will never be the be-all and end-all of a healthy body, but having it can’t hurt.
“Stress, drinking and smoking are going to put the body into a more acidic state,” she points out.
Tippett has a water alkalizing machine in her clinic which adds minerals back into the water, but says that filtering water is all most people need to worry about in order to get as clean a source as possible.
“It’s definitely going to be beneficial to have more minerals in our body and it’s just another source that we can take in for [optimal] nutritional status,” she says.
“But if you’re going to alkalize your water and eat lots of sugar and no veggies, you’re probably not going to get the full benefit.”