All About Alkaline Water and Its Effects

If you've heard about the miraculous virtues of alkaline water, you may have wondered how true they are. Read on and you'll learn the answers science has to offer.
All About Alkaline Water and Its Effects
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 08 December, 2022

The consumption of alkaline water is currently in vogue. Various properties and great health benefits are attributed to it. It’s said that it’s an antioxidant, that it can reduce premature aging, prevent infections, help to lose weight, and even fight cancer.

But what is true in all this? Below, we’ll learn a little more about what alkaline water is, how it’s made and, above all, the scientific basis for all these supposed virtues.

What is alkaline water?

Depending on the pH (potential of hydrogen) level, a substance or a solution will be considered more acidic or more alkaline. The scale used in this respect goes from 0 to 14, where 0 would be the highest degree of acidity and 14 the highest alkalinity.

However, the pH level of the water we normally consume is usually around 7. Water is, therefore, considered to have a neutral pH. This measure may vary somewhat, depending on the presence of minerals and other substances used or applied for its treatment, according to different purposes.

Alkaline water is defined as water with a higher pH. It may come from springs or may have been intentionally modified to raise the pH level.

Depending on the manufacturer and the substances used in processing, this level can range from 7.1 to 8 or even higher. In some brands, as well as in natural ones, it reaches up to 9.5.

How to make alkaline water

Alkaline water.
Researchers have pointed out that Niagara Falls water is alkaline.

It should be clarified that natural alkaline water can also be found. This occurs when springs pass over rocks, picking up minerals, which changes the pH.

There are many places in the world where this occurs. For example, samples from Niagara Falls and the Fiji Islands have been analyzed in research. Also, those from the Grotte de Massabielle, in the Sanctuary of Lourdes (Hautes-Pyrénées, France) are well known.

However, most people consume alkaline water that they have either bought already bottled or have processed at home using a device. In both cases, it has undergone a process known as electrolysis.

For this purpose, an ionizer is used, which raises the pH of the water. This is said to separate the alkaline and acidic molecules. The latter are then channeled and discarded.

In addition, since pH alone isn’t considered sufficient, alkaline minerals are added and the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), which is related to the pro- or antioxidant capacity of the water, is raised.

Homemade alkaline water

It’s also possible to make alkaline water at home. Several methods are mentioned in this regard. Among them, the following stand out:

  • Boil the water for at least 5 minutes, which will cause it to rise to a pH of 8.4. The alkalinity is retained even when cooled.
  • Transfer from one container to another, letting it fall from a certain height, making bubbles. If this is repeated several times (up to 8 or more), the alkalinity may increase a few tenths.
  • Add baking soda (half a teaspoon per liter); this will bring the pH to between 7.5 and 7.9.

Possible benefits of alkaline water

Although there are questions, discrepancies, and controversies in this regard, there are believe there are many benefits of alkaline water for the human body. Among these, we’d like to mention the following:

Goodbye fatigue with alkaline water

Of course, water hydrates, but we must remember that hydration also has to do with the replenishment of electrolytes. By containing more minerals, some alkaline waters could help to fulfill this function better, also reducing fatigue.

Antioxidant properties

Although there’s no scientific evidence to back it up, it’s thought that, because of its antioxidant properties, it could help to reduce the effect of free radicals, fighting premature aging.

Skincare with alkaline water

Another of the benefits attributed to alkaline water is that it contributes to skin care, keeping it hydrated and with good elasticity, and improving its overall appearance.

Depurative

Also, it’s claimed that it allows you to eliminate toxins and various waste substances through urine in a more efficient way, which would help maintain organ health.

Losing weight by drinking alkaline water

It’s considered that moderate consumption of alkaline water can help to lose weight healthily, contributing to the improvement of problems such as fluid retention.

Fighting cancer

Commonly, body acidity is related to the appearance of various diseases, including the development of neoplasms. Therefore, it’s thought that cancer could be prevented with alkaline water. However, the data on this subject are not conclusive.

Reducing infections

An acidic pH is associated with a tendency to contract vaginal and urinary infections, among others. However, if this acidity were reduced or if alkalinity were raised, the propensity or susceptibility to attack by pathogenic microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria, should decrease.

Does alkaline water really work?

A woman with a flat stomach.
While there are indications of some benefits of drinking alkaline water, there’s no scientific support for most of them.

As noted at the outset, the health benefits of alkaline water use have been called into question. Let’s take a look at what the studies on the subject say.

  • Gastric reflux: An in vitro study found that naturally carbonated alkaline water from an artesian well, with a pH of 8.8, could deactivate pepsin, which is the main cause of reflux.
  • Constipation: the results of research conducted in Japan in 2018 suggest that electrolyzed alkaline water could improve the flow and frequency of stool evacuation.
  • Blood viscosity: in another study, a significant difference in blood viscosity was found when consuming water with a higher pH, after a strenuous training session.
  • Obesity: in a laboratory study, carried out on rats with induced obesity, a positive effect was observed, improving adiposity, weight gain, and fat accumulation in the epididymis and liver.
  • Postmenopausal disorders: lastly, a recent study found a lower metabolic risk, as well as an improvement in sleep quality and muscle strength, in postmenopausal women.

However, despite these results, it’s considered that, in order to reach a generalized conclusion, more research is needed, since this data belong to small studies, some conducted in vitro or even with animals.

Side effects and contraindications

Currently, there are no case reports or evidence showing any undesirable side effects. Therefore, as long as it’s properly treated, alkaline water is safe for health. Nor are there any limitations regarding the amount that can be consumed.

However, precautions should be taken with respect to the quality of the original source, in terms of contaminants (especially chemicals), and the addition of minerals. In this regard, studies mention possible risks of consuming water poor in minerals, especially calcium and magnesium.

Quality of life and quality of water

The questioning of alkaline water is not related to its safety, but the claims about its health benefits may often seem exaggerated.

In this sense, we should warn about the risks that could be incurred if medical treatments are ignored, thinking that this water alone can perform the miracle of curing diseases.

Therefore, it should be emphasized that its consumption should be carried out within the framework of a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, and avoiding cigarette consumption, as well as excessive alcohol, among other measures.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.