Ask a Maui Doctor: What are the Benefits of Alkaline Water?
Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.
Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask a Maui Doctor” column.
Q: Is there a difference between regular water and alkaline water? Are there benefits of drinking alkaline water?
A: There are quite a few astonishing health claims being made about alkaline water, but most of them are not true.
Ideally, the pH of your water should be somewhere between 6 and 8. And some of the most healthful waters in the world, that which emerge from mountain springs, are slightly acidic in the range of 6.5.
Because alkaline water has a higher pH level than plain tap water, proponents say that it can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively. Some even say that alkaline water can help prevent disease and slow the aging process. However, researchers haven’t verified these claims. For most people, plain water is best.
Some people experience an initial “high” when they start drinking alkaline water. This can easily be attributed to detoxification, and the fact that they are likely just becoming better hydrated. Detoxification is the only benefit of this type of water, and this benefit is limited to very SHORT TERM USE (no more than a week or two).
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, and a pH of 7 is neutral. Anything with a pH below 7 is considered acidic, with battery acid being the most extreme example, around 1. Anything with a pH above 7 is alkaline (or basic), with lye at the top of the scale.
Around 13.3% of natural water on our planet ranges in pH from 6.5 to 9.0, depending on surrounding soil and vegetation, seasonal variations and weather, and even time of day responses to sunlight.
As is true with many things, in the end it’s a matter of balance. Water that is too acidic or too alkaline can be detrimental to human health and lead to nutritional disequilibrium. It’s best to be VERY careful when it comes to something as foundational as the water you drink on a daily basis. If you get it wrong, you could really cause yourself some major damage.
If you drink alkaline water all the time, you’re going to raise the alkalinity of your stomach, which will buffer your stomach’s acidity and impair your ability to digest food, as low stomach acid is one of the most common causes of ulcers. This can open the door for parasites in your small intestine, and your protein digestion may suffer. It also means you’ll get less minerals and nutrients over time – in fact, some of these health effects can already be seen in hardcore alkaline water drinkers.
Alkalinity is also potentially a problem because it is antibacterial, so it could potentially disrupt the balance of your body’s beneficial bacteria.
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