By now, you have probably heard about drinking ionized, alkaline water for your health. It can be difficult to sort through the wealth of information out there. Part of our mission at Earth’s Balance is to help you differentiate the true from the false and explain why making it a part of your overall wellness plan is not only smart, but crucial to your health.
1. THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS IN THE BODY ARE NOT DESTROYED BY STOMACH ACID
The most common question we’ve received is, “What happens to alkaline water when it reaches the stomach, which is highly acidic?” Different parts of the body must maintain different pH levels to function properly. The normal pH value of the blood is slightly alkaline, around 7.2-7.4. The body maintains these values through homeostasis, which is the term used to describe the physiological processes the body goes through in order to maintain the internal equilibrium, or balance, that keeps us alive.
Drinking alkaline water and consuming alkaline foods does cause the stomach pH to go up temporarily. The body reacts by producing hydrochloric acid to bring the stomach back to its normal pH, which is around 4. It is the process of bringing the stomach pH back to normal that creates alkalinity in the body. When the body uses carbon dioxide, water, and sodium chloride to produce hydrochloric acid, the by-products that are left are called bicarbonates. Bicarbonates are alkaline buffers that neutralize excess acids in the blood and dissolve solid acidic wastes into a liquid form. Therefore, drinking alkaline water is not negated by stomach acid. In looking at the body as a whole, there is a net gain of alkalinity in the blood and body cells due to the homeostatic processes that are activated when you drink alkaline water. The process is the same whether you are drinking water or eating alkaline foods such as green vegetables, almond, and certain fruits. Think about it, there has been no dispute that alkaline foods cause a net gain of alkalinity in your body. When critics of alkaline water acknowledge that foods can cause alkalinity in the body, but state that the benefits of drinking alkaline water are negated by stomach acid, they are contradicting themselves!
2. IT HELPS YOUR BODY MAINTAIN A HEALTHY pH WITH LESS DAMAGE TO YOUR HEALTH
The other main argument is that because of homeostasis, drinking alkaline water cannot change the pH of your blood. We agree with this fact. No matter what you eat or drink, your body will maintain its normal pH to keep you alive. What you need to understand is that HOW the body does this is what can be so damaging to your health. Let’s use drinking a glass of coke as an example. Coke has an acidic pH, around 1 or 2. It is loaded with phosphoric acid to keep you from immediately vomiting up the 10 teaspoons of sugar (which is also acidic) you’ve just ingested. If your body did not act immediately to counteract this acidity, you would slip into a coma and die. The body will use alkaline minerals to neutralize the acidity. Let’s hope you are taking plenty of mineral supplements and eating a mineral rich diet, otherwise the body has no choice but to pull alkaline minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, straight from your bones, teeth, and muscles. This is why drinking coke and eating the highly acidic diet of the average American, has been linked to osteoporosis, dental problems, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. So, we are not saying alkaline water will change the pH of your blood and body cells by itself. What we are saying is that drinking alkaline water can help your body maintain its normal pH levels without your body having to eat itself alive.
3. IT OCCURS NATURALLY FROM THE PUREST WATER SOURCES IN THE WORLD
Next, many critics of ionized, alkaline water claim it is a man-made and does not occur naturally. This is simply not true. The purest water in the world found in rocky, mountainous, glacier streams is alkaline and is naturally ionized by flowing over the rocks and down into waterfalls. All we are doing is restoring water to its natural state and removing the impurities that have been added by governments and pollution in the environment. It is the same concept as supplementing with vitamins and minerals that are now deficient in our foods due to over use of the soil, pesticide and chemical use, and that the average person does not eat enough of in their diet. Ionized, alkaline water is water as nature intended in the first place. (Maybe that’s why it is so good for you!)
4. IT IS NOT THE ONLY THING YOU NEED TO STAY HEALTHY
Lastly, I would like to address the marketers in our industry that promote alkaline water as a “cure-all” or as the answer to curing and preventing all disease. Yes, many chronic illnesses are caused by acidity in the body. Yes, drinking alkaline water will help neutralize and flush out acidic wastes that contribute to these diseases. It has amazing anti-oxidant properties and can eliminate chronic dehydration. I believe it is crucial to your health and should be the only water you drink, especially if you already suffer from some form of chronic disease. However, the benefits of alkaline water are best obtained with a proper diet and exercise, properly managing stress levels, and supplementing with organic vitamins and minerals. If you only drink alkaline water and continue to eat an unhealthy, acidic diet, do not take any other supplements, and do not exercise, you are not going to be healthy. Balance is key!