If you have seen advertisements regarding the health benefits of alkaline water, you may be wondering if alkaline water is better than regular water. Alkaline water is claimed to have a range of health benefits, from supporting detoxification to protecting or curing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Currently, there is some evidence to support the opposite, suggesting alkaline water may have a negative effect upon physical health and well-being, if any effect at all.
Effect on pH Levels
Alkaline water has no effect upon the pH levels of the physical body. After ingestion, alkaline water is almost immediately neutralized by hydrochloric acid present in the stomach. After leaving the stomach, water is combined with pancreatic enzymes, transforming the final product into an alkaline agent once again. Regardless of whether water is alkaline or acidic to begin with, the digestive processes of the body are able to transform the pH balance of all liquids in the digestive tract into what the body requires.
Drinking alkaline water causes chemical changes within the body that affect the health and function of your heart. In a study published in the Journal of Toxicology Science in 1998, researchers found that rats given alkaline water to drink suffered from hardening and cell damage of the heart muscles. Drinking alkaline water lead to increased enzymes, potassium levels and weight gain and resulted in damage to the rats' hearts. When rats were given regular tap water, none of the rats experienced any of these changes.
Proper digestion relies on the presence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to chemically break down food and prepare food matter for absorption. Low levels of stomach acid result in flatulence, bloating and poor assimilation of nutrients. Alkaline water in large doses acts to neutralize stomach acid and may have a detrimental effect on digestion in humans. If you suffer from poor digestion, low stomach acid or flatulence, you should avoid drinking alkaline water.
Despite claims by companies that alkaline water neutralizes free radicals, alkaline water is actually an oxidative agent and increases free radicals within the body. The process of alkalizing water via electrolysis increases hypochlorites in water and gives alkaline water its oxidative action.
Drinking large amounts of alkaline water may result in a medical condition known as metabolic alkalosis. In normal situations the kidneys manage the acid/alkaline balance of the body and are able to excrete excess alkaline substances from the body. In cases where the ability of the organs to maintain balance is overpowered by significant amounts of alkaline sources such as bicarbonate soda or alkaline water, people experience edema, hypertension, mental confusion or seizures.