Is Alkaline water extra healthy?
by Theresa Nwaolai
July 14, 2019
So there is almost no one who has not heard one thing or the other about alkaline water. In this article, we will talk about what it is, and whether or not it is actually beneficial. First let’s talk about what the pH scale, alkalinity, and acidity mean.
What is the pH scale?
In layman term, the pH scale is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution or system is. The values range from 0-14. Low pH values are acidic and high pH values are basic. pH value of 7 which is located in the middle of the scale is neutral (that is neither acidic nor basic). Ideally, water should have a neutral pH.
While our body needs to be alkaline on some levels, there are actually parts of our system that need the acidic environment. A classic example of that is the stomach (pH value: 1.5-3.5). HCl found in the stomach plays a huge role in digestion and fighting off some organisms.
The female vagina is also acidic because of the rich lactic acid content. This lactic acid actually is a metabolic product gotten when the microbes naturally found in the vagina acts on glycogen. Some vaginal infections actually occur more when the acidity of the vagina drops (when the pH rises and becomes more alkaline). This means we do in fact need acidity sometimes. Why then is there so much fuss about making sure our system is alkaline?
Are there really benefits of alkalinity?
First, let me say that exposure to extreme pH values (both strong acidity and strong alkalinity) is detrimental to health. Some negative health effects have been associated with this. This could include eye and skin irritation and sometimes even irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. So this means when we discuss the benefits of alkalinity, we don’t mean pH values on the extreme end of the scale. While a low carbohydrate and high protein diet, does not change our blood pH much, it does affect the urinary system. The uric acid levels increases(amongst other things) and this can actually lead to kidney stones formation if it goes unchecked. This means that it’s very beneficial for the urinary system to be alkaline.
Sometimes, foods are grouped according to their ability to cause renal acid(uric acid) build-up. Most fruits, vegetables and even some red and white wine have a negative acid load while foods like fish, meat, dairy products, etc have a higher acid load. So in summary, acidity which can come from our diet affects our body negatively. A lot of these effects can be counteracted by supplementing with an alkali agent like sodium bicarbonate. Some studies have linked renal acidity to decreased bone density and other health effects.
Benefits of alkalinity
Effect on muscle mass and bone density.
As we age, the mass and integrity of our muscles decrease. An Alkaline diet actually favors lean tissues in such cases. Thus muscle loss associated with old age is reduced or at least in check with an alkaline diet. An alkaline diet also improves bone density.
Effect on growth hormone
Low levels of growth hormone and short statue (in children) is an effect of acidosis. In fact, it’s a popular practice in some countries to supplement premature babies with metabolic acidosis with sodium bicarbonate (an alkalinizing agent) so as allow normal levels of growth hormone and speed up their growth process. So basically an alkaline environment supports an increase in growth hormone.
Quite a number of drugs used to treat cancer are more effective in an alkaline environment while others are more harmful in acidic environments.
In conclusion, there are some health benefits of alkalinity to be enjoyed by eating an alkaline-rich diet which includes lots of fruits and vegetables.
How to alkalize your body
The procedure to alkalize your body basically involves eating foods that leave alkaline metabolites behind after digestion. As discussed above, this includes fruits and vegetables. Here are some specific examples of alkaline-forming foods and some acid-forming foods
Alkaline forming foods
Spinach, cucumber, red and white wine(which is good for the heart in moderation), citrus, apples, apricot, bananas, broccoli, tomato, eggplant, honey, sugar, black currant, margarine, apricots, raisins, green beans, coffee infusion, etc.
Acid forming foods
Cheese, yogurt, whole milk, egg yolk, corned beef, veal, turkey, rolled oats, etc. This doesn’t mean that in order to alkalize your body, you should not eat any acid-forming food at all. Because as you can see from that list, there are lots of healthy foods on it and you want to make sure you are giving your body all the necessary nutrients it needs.
What to do then?
Well, when our diet leaves acidic metabolites behind, our body, in an attempt to attain balance (homeostasis), releases some substances to counteract this. This means we should be fine even after have an egg or two. But this process can become less efficient when the acidic metabolite load is high. So here, the key is to try as much as possible to attain a balance. You should mix things up. It’s not news that a huge portion of our meals should contain fruits and vegetables. To be safe, try to ensure that not more than 20-30% of your meal comprises of acid-forming food and the rest of the meal should be alkaline-forming.
Can alkaline water change body pH?
Drinking alkaline water has been found to improve acid-base balance, improve bone mass, and of course improve hydration status. While this does not directly say that drinking alkaline water changes body pH, it can be inferred that like alkaline-forming foods, alkaline water also has positive health effects.
How to alkalize your drinking water
Like it or not, not everyone can ensure consuming a predominantly alkaline diet all the time. However, no one can do without drinking water. So in order to enjoy the benefits, why not alkalize some of your drinking water? There are several ways to alkalize your drinking water. Here are a few easy ones…
This can easily be added to drinking water. Add about a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to a glass of water (about 0.2L of water). Stir properly before drinking your alkaline water.
This is quite popular. Although lemons are acidic, they actually produce alkaline metabolites during digestion.
Add clean and cut lemons to the water. Do not squeeze. Just drop them in and leave overnight at room temperature.
Buy a pi cup.
This cup contains pi stones that alkalize the water when it comes in contact with it. Shake the water in the bottle for 15-20 minutes before drinking or leave the water in the cup overnight and drink the next day.
Buy a water ionizer.
This home appliance helps to alkalize the water.