What's the Deal with Alkaline Water? Here's What You Should Know

Talk about a swell of popularity. But does it work?

We know drinking sufficient water is essential for good health. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So what's with the deal with the trendy type of water flooding the wellness world, alkaline water? Everyone from celebrities (hi, Beyoncé) to fitness instructors alike have been singing its praises, practically calling it an elixir of life: it's cleared up their acne, fizzled their brain fog, helped their hangovers, you name it. If you're hoping to gain some clarity on the matter, you're not alone.

What Is Alkaline Water?

Alkalinity in water refers to its pH level. pH level measures how acidic the water is on a scale from 1 to 14, 1 being highly acidic and 14 being highly basic (aka, alkaline). Most drinking water has a neutral pH of 7, whereas most alkaline waters have a pH of 8.5 or higher.

So why drink it? Many proponents of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in your body, which they say helps with hydration, immunity, and fighting inflammation and chronic issues related to it.

Does Alkaline Water Work?

The answer is highly controversial, mostly because there hasn't been enough research on the matter to give it a firm yes or no answer. However, there have been a few studies that suggest drinking alkaline water could be helpful for certain health conditions. For instance, a 2012 study found that drinking water with an above-neutral pH (8.8) may counteract pepsin, which is the main enzyme that causes acid reflux. Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that drinking alkaline water after exercise helped blood flow more efficiently through vessels. However, more research is needed beyond these smaller studies in order to make an accurate call on the health benefits of high-pH water.

The Bottom Line

Though the jury's still out on whether or not drinking alkaline water is better than drinking regular water, drinking water is always a good idea. It helps us feel more energetic, improves digestion, boosts athletic performance, and makes our skin look happy and healthy. "Drinking water also typically decreases the intake of higher caloric beverages, which is of course good for you as well," adds Ralph Holsworth, MD, of Southeast Colorado Hospital. Additionally, he points out that all water "assists the body's ability to combat inflammation."

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  1. Koufman JA, Johnston N. Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2012 Jul;121(7):431-4. doi: 10.1177/000348941212100702.

  2. Weidman, J., Holsworth, R.E., Brossman, B. et al. Effect of electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water on blood viscosity in healthy adultsJ Int Soc Sports Nutr 13, 45 (2016). doi: 10.1186/s12970-016-0153-8.

  3. Akdeniz M, Tomova-Simitchieva T, Dobos G, Blume-Peytavi U, Kottner J. Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic literature review. Skin Res Technol. 2018 Aug;24(3):459-465. doi: 10.1111/srt.12454.

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