Water is the most abundant element here on Earth, and this is probably why our planet is habitable. We humans have done quite some damage to the planet; not only have we changed the climate, it has also made the oceans more acidic. Within the last century, their pH has been significantly reduced from 8.2 to 8.1. That’s sounds awesome if you’re thinking that everything alkaline seems healthy. The catch? Is this so-called “fancy water” safe for your consumption? Let science do the explanation.
Related media: Is Alkaline Water Really Better For You?
What Is Alkaline Water?
Before you understand what alkaline water is, let’s first of all take a crash course about what the pH scale is in general. The pH scale is a widely used measure of acidity, a logarithmic scale that runs from 1 through to 14. Substances that are at the lower end, between 1 and 7, are acidic; whereas substances that are at the upper end, between 7 and 14, are basic — also known as (you guessed it) alkaline. Do you recall “pH” from your high school science class as the “Power of Hydrogen?” That’s not far from right.
Technically, the pH scale is a measure of how much ions a substance releases when dissolved in water. Acids release hydronium ions — positively charged water molecules with an extra hydrogen atom; the lower a substance’s acidity, the more ions it releases. The pH scale is logarithmic, hence an acid with a pH of 2 releases 10 times more hydrogen ions in water than that of an acid with a pH of 3, and 100 times more than an acid with a pH of 4, and so on and on.
On the other end, bases release hydroxide ions — negatively charged water molecules with a missing hydrogen atom when dissolved in water. Here’s the catch: pure water molecules contains both hydronium and hydroxide ions, and as a result, they cancel out each other, in turn given water (you guessed it) a perfect neutral pH of 7.
Whence Cometh Alkaline Water?
That’s not the usual water you drink, though. Most bottled water is slightly acidic, thanks to additives and minerals; and other consumables like soda and fruit juice are even more acidic. Yikes! This is what makes alkaline water that unusual; most alkaline bottled water sold on the market are with pH levels of 8 to 10 — too basic for consumption. Allegedly, this has health benefits: it prevents metabolic conditions like hangovers, osteoporosis, and even cancer by keeping our bodies from getting too acidic.
Beyoncé and Tom Brady are noted for drinking alkaline water; does science even support this idea? Spoiler Alert: No! “It’s all about marketing,” dietitian and epidemiologist Tanis Fenton told the New York Times. In short, alkaline water is a marketing strategy rather than a scientific phenomenon, and its marketing has been quite lucrative, too. Between 2014 and 2017, it’s revenue increased exponentially, becoming a 427-million dollar industry.
Here’s the catch: there’s little evidence that support any health benefits on you. Our bodies keep us a lot more healthier than we think. As a species, we’ve evolved an internal mechanism for regulating our pH levels — if our blood isn’t at a pH of 7.4-0.5, or so, we’ll die. So what happens when you consume acidic substances? Short answer: you’ll pee it out. Your urine is slightly acidic (you taste it and see); this is evidence that your renal system (the kidneys, bladder, etc.) is regulating your pH levels. Don’t worry!
Should I Drink Alkaline Water?
What happens when you drink alkaline water? Good question. Your stomach prevent any basic substance from over alkalinizing your system, too. Your blood is kept at a pH of 7 to 7.4, whereas your stomach is highly acidic — with a pH of 1.5 to 3.5 — which helps neutralizes basic substances you consume (including alkaline water) long before they’re absorbed into your blood stream. So it’s kinda bad than you thought? Not really!
Alkaline water might (slightly) help you throat irritation if you have an acid reflux. Aforementioned, there’s little evidence that supports it. Research found that “rat pups that drank alkaline water struggled with more cardiac issues and grew less readily than rat pups that drank regular water.” Hmmm?! Here’s the takeaway: alkaline water is not really recommendable, and gulping your daily “normal” water seems cheap than buying a potential health risk.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Jul 02, 2019.