You may have heard people mention the phrase "artificially alkaline water" and wondered what they meant by that. Isn't water either alkaline or not alkaline? The confusion originates with the market's current infatuation with where water falls on the pH scale - the higher the pH level, the higher the alkalinity, the better it is for you, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In fact, there can be some serious health side effects when artificially alkaline water is consumed as regular drinking water over a long period of time.
Artificial & Naturally Alkaline Water: The Gist of It
When measuring alkalinity, an alkaline pH can be the result of natural or unnatural conditions in the water. Depending on the conditions that make the water alkaline, the healthful properties of it come into question.
Naturally alkaline water has a chemical makeup that is vastly different from artificially alkaline water. Artificially alkaline water has undergone a process they call ionization or electrolysis to "trick" the water into thinking it has a certain pH, but possesses none of the minerals that are responsible for the health benefits of naturally alkaline water.
How is Alkaline Water Made?
Not all alkaline water is equal, but before we get into that, it’s important to know how both naturally occurring alkaline water and artificial alkaline water is made:In nature, water flows down mountain streams and picks up alkaline minerals from the porous rock through which it runs, creating its higher pH level and making it naturally alkaline. Nothing more is done to the water to make it "alkaline" besides good old mother nature doing her thing.
- Different water brands have created machines that make water alkaline through something called ionization or electrolysis. During electrolysis, water ionizers split apart water molecules with electricity to artificially create alkaline water. Regular tap water is run over platinum and titanium plates which causes the exchange of ions that make the water more alkaline in its pH.
- Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, is a way to create a higher pH, or alkalinity, in drinking water. While baking soda water claims various health benefits, it lacks the minerals found in naturally occurring alkaline waters. Learn more about why bottled water brands add baking soda to their water.
All water in nature has a pH that correlates to the minerals in the water. As a quick refresher, anything below 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is considered alkaline (alkaline is a synonym for basic). When you consume alkaline water, the body is under the impression that it is receiving alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium. Thus, when the body encounters alkaline ionized water, it believes it is receiving more alkaline minerals than what is actually present in the water, causing it to deplete its own mineral reserves and potentially resulting in a mineral deficiency.
Essentially, ionized or alkalized water = a "synthetic" pH = missing minerals = depletion of one's own mineral reserves.
The Body and Alkaline Water: Facts
- The body’s ability to maintain its pH balance is critical: Most people’s bodies are, in fact, acidic at the cellular level.1
- The rationale for drinking alkaline water is that it will correct this imbalance: Holes can be poked in this theory. For one, the real cause of excess acidity at the cellular level is a deficiency of actual alkalinizing or alkaline reserve minerals. These minerals are what you are born with and what comes from your diet.
- Despite what seems obvious, drinking artificially alkaline water fails to replace these vital minerals: Consuming it actually depletes them by making the body think that it is alkaline, causing it to release reserve alkaline minerals through the blood and kidneys, and ultimately making the person deficient in the end.
- Alkaline water machines replace the good minerals with small amounts of platinum and titanium found in the plates the water runs over in the ionization process.
- These metals are toxic.
- The carbon filtration systems in place for tap water fail to remove enough of the toxic chemicals in the water.
- When drinking artificially alkaline water, you end up ingesting chlorine, fluorides, aluminum, and even pesticides.
Drink Living, Natural Water - Pass on the Artificial Alkaline Water
At the end of the day, a water with a high pH does not equate to a healthful alkaline water. More likely than not, that pH was achieved through artificial processes and has very few of the minerals your body actually needs. In an article on alkaline water, Dr. Mercola speaks about the less-than-stellar ethics of multi-level marketing companies selling water alkalizers, emphasizing the value of alkaline water "has much more to do than pH alone." Dr. Mercoola, as well as other experts in the field, recommend drinking a "living" water; one from a spring or natural water source that has its organic structure.
Although the health benefits associated with drinking natural alkaline water still require further research, the minerals, hydration, and detoxification effects can be profound. When purchasing alkaline water, check the label and look for either "naturally alkaline" or take a look at the mineral content measured in milligrams.