A couple months ago, I planned to go to the gym after class. However, I forgot my water bottle. So rather than go all the way back home to go to a gym down the street from the college, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a couple of the cheapest bottles of water they had. I didn’t realize at the time that I had purchased “alkalized water” that was “infused with negative ions.”
Yeah, my chemistry professor — the one that studied with the Nobel laureate — had a good laugh about that.
I only used one bottle and the other ended up in the fridge, forgotten until I overheard someone say that alkaline water was so much better for you than regular water, would change the entire pH of your body, and improve your health.
Time for science. To the refrigerator!
So the first thing I wanted to do is see how stable this stuff is. Was it actually alkaline? After spending a couple months on the shelf, was it in fact still alkaline? Thankfully I own a pool test kit, so this was easy to check:
Yup, pH of roughly 8.0, or close enough to it to not matter. At least this stuff is what the label says. This was a pleasant surprise.
But what about the health benefits? Or rather, are health benefits even possible? To answer that question, let’s look at what happens after you swallow this stuff.
First stop is your stomach, which is full of gastric acid: a blend of hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and salt. If you’ve ever been responsible for swimming pool maintenance, you know it doesn’t take a whole lot of acid to neutralize a whole bunch of somewhat alkaline water. In other words, odds are very good that this stuff is just-plain-water by the time it gets to the intestines. In fact, one of the few research studies I was able to find about alkaline water suggests that a pH of 8.8 would be needed to get any kind of results. Since pH is a logarithmic scale, you’d need water 8 times more alkaline than the stuff in this bottle according to the study. Oh, and before I forget, this study was done in test tubes, not people.
But let’s say for the sake of argument that some of this water makes it past the stomach, past the intestines, and into the blood. Your body has over 5 liters of blood, and this little bottle contains a half a liter. Human blood has a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. It can be hard to maintain a swimming pool pH between 7.2 and 7.6, yet your body maintains a range a quarter that size all day, all night, without you even thinking about it. And it’s bad news if the pH gets out of the normal range! Your body can regulate this with your kidneys, your lungs, and even with normal reversible chemical reactions within your blood. You’re alive, which is evidence that your body is very, very good at this.
So in conclusion: there is little evidence and no logic whatsoever to support alkaline water having any health benefits. And remember that like all bottled water, the stuff that comes out of your tap is better regulated.
In Closing: Moi aussi, je suis Charlie; point of view; more prisons than colleges.