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We all know the importance of drinking water. But what if water had other benefits than just keeping you hydrated?

Ionized water, also known as alkaline water, claims to do just that. As they taught us in chemistry class, pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a substance or solution. Pure water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral. Ionized water, however, has a higher pH between 7 and 9.5, which contains alkalizing compounds such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate that add to its alkalinity.

Many people believe that alkaline water can make our bodies less acidic and prevent chronic low-grade acidosis, which is a result of increased acidity in the blood. Claims that it can help regulate your body’s pH level and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer are also frequently made, but how accurate are they?

Studies indicate that drinking alkaline water may provide benefits for those with hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Drinking water with a pH of 8.8 has also recommended for people who suffer from acid reflux. The study (link below), however only tested the alkaline water on pepsin, the protein produced in the stomach and one of the main digestive enzymes, and not on actual subjects. The study concluded, “Unlike conventional drinking water, pH 8.8 alkaline water instantly denatures pepsin, rendering it permanently inactive. In addition, it has good acid-buffering capacity. Thus, the consumption of alkaline water may have therapeutic benefits for patients with reflux disease.”

Athletes may also benefit from alkaline water. Intense exercise encourages muscles to produce more hydrogen ions than one can remove, which results in increased acidity and fatigue. Alkaline water may enhance the body’s buffering capacity, thus improving performance and function. The study provided below, although it was a small sample size of 24 competitive skiers, showed lower cardiorespiratory stress, lower blood lactate responses, and higher UBP measures

Like alkaline water, an alkaline diet may also have additional benefits; the type of soil that fruits and vegetables are grown in influences the mineral content and alkalinity of the diet. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed may benefit bone health, memory and cognition, reduce muscle wasting, and minimize other chronic diseases such as hypertension and stroke.

Although studies have suggested some benefits, sufficient evidence for most health claims have not yet been determined. For those interested in trying alkaline water, you can purchase bottled mineral waters, an ionizer machine, or by adding pH drops or even a squeeze of lemon to increase your waters alkalinity, or you could just increase your fruits and vegetable intake which is overall a healthier alternative and a whole foods approach!

Sahar Kosari, Dietetics Student

References

Goldman, Rena, and Peggy Pletcher. “Alkaline Water: Benefits and Risks.” Healthline. 20 May 2015.

Heil, Daniel P., Erik A. Jacobson, and Stephanie M. Howe. “Influence of an Alkalizing Supplement on Markers of Endurance Performance Using a Double-blind Placebo-controlled Design.” JISSN. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012. Web. http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-8

Koufman, J. A., and N. Johnston. “Potential Benefits of PH 8.8 Alkaline Drinking Water as an Adjunct in the Treatment of Reflux Disease.” Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 121.7 (2012): 431-34. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22844861

Schwalfenberg, Gerry K. “The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline PH Diet Benefits Health?” Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/

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