Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Alkaline Water Bad For You?



Short answer

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular water and is touted for health benefits like improved hydration and acid reflux relief. However, scientific evidence is mixed, and the body already regulates pH balance efficiently. Benefits may be more related to mineral content rather than alkalinity, and more research is needed.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Examining the Claims: What Is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water refers to water with a higher pH level than regular drinking water. While the pH of standard water is typically close to neutral, at 7, alkaline water usually has a pH of 8 or 9. The basic premise behind the consumption of alkaline water is related to the body's pH balance, which is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body's fluids and tissues. It's a scale that ranges from 0 to 14, with anything below 7 being acidic and anything above 7 being alkaline.

The foundation of the claims surrounding alkaline water rests on the idea that by consuming water with a higher pH, individuals can help neutralize acid in the bloodstream, increase oxygen levels, and thereby improve metabolism and energy. Proponents believe that drinking alkaline water can lead to various health benefits, such as slowing the aging process, regulating the body's pH level, preventing chronic diseases, and improving hydration and digestion.

However, the human body is remarkably efficient at regulating its pH balance and does this irrespective of the alkalinity of the water consumed. The stomach, for instance, is highly acidic, with a pH of around 2 to 3.5, which is necessary for the digestion of food. When alkaline water is consumed, it's likely to be neutralized by the acidic gastric juice in the stomach. Hence, the belief that drinking alkaline water can significantly affect the body's overall pH is subject to debate among health professionals.

It's also important to distinguish between naturally alkaline water, which acquires its increased pH from passing over rocks like springs and absorbing minerals, and artificially alkaline water that has been ionized by an appliance called an alkaline ionizer. These ionizers use a process known as electrolysis to separate water into acidic and alkaline streams. The alkaline stream is then provided for consumption.

Scientific evidence remains mixed regarding whether there are tangible benefits to drinking alkaline water, with some studies suggesting possible advantages and others indicating minimal effect. For example, research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that drinking alkaline water might improve hydration status and blood viscosity after exercise, possibly offering a slight edge in athletic recovery. On the flip side, a review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association states that "there is little credible evidence to support various health claims of alkaline water."

Thus, when examining the claims about alkaline water, it's essential to approach the topic critically and consider the existing scientific evidence. It's crucial to consider that the body's natural homeostatic mechanisms are well-equipped to maintain pH balance, and any benefits derived from alkaline water may be due to its mineral content rather than its alkalinity.

Alkaline Water and Acid-Base Balance in the Human Body

The acid-base balance in the human body is a vital aspect of our physiology, where proper pH levels are meticulously maintained, predominantly by the kidneys and lungs. It’s crucial for the normal functioning of cells and organs, and deviations from the ideal pH can lead to adverse health effects. Alkaline water, typically defined as having a pH higher than 7, is purported to improve this delicate balance by neutralizing excess acidity in the body. However, the extent to which alkaline water can impact overall pH levels is a subject of discussion amongst health professionals and researchers.

Our body's natural buffering systems are adept at handling a wide range of pH levels. In fact, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid, creating a highly acidic environment with a pH as low as 1.5 to 2, which is fundamental for digestion. When we consume alkaline water, its higher pH is likely neutralized by the acidic gastric juice, which may marginalize its alkalizing effect.

Nonetheless, some studies suggest that consuming alkaline water could have specific health benefits. A research study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that alkaline water at pH 8.8 may help deactivate pepsin, the main enzyme that causes acid reflux, possibly providing therapeutic benefits for individuals with reflux disease. Further, a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that a significant difference in whole blood viscosity (an indicator of dehydration) was observed after consuming high-pH water compared to regular water after a strenuous workout, implying better hydration.

It's important to consider that the scientific community is still investigating these claims, and more robust, long-term studies are needed to confirm any significant benefits of alkaline water on acid-base balance or overall health. Health professionals often debate the necessity and effectiveness of consuming alkaline water, given the body’s own regulatory systems. Additionally, there are concerns about the long-term effects of altering the stomach's pH, as it could potentially interfere with digestion and the natural microbiome.

Some advocates argue that a diet consisting of alkaline foods and water aids in resisting the effects of an acidic lifestyle, which includes consumption of processed foods and exposure to environmental pollutants. However, the body's mechanisms for maintaining pH balance are complex and not solely influenced by diet; therefore, the influence of alkaline water on this balance may be limited.

In conclusion, while alkaline water is generally considered safe for consumption, its impact on the body's acid-base balance requires further scientific scrutiny. Individuals interested in trying alkaline water should consult with a healthcare professional, especially if they have kidney-related or other health issues that affect acid-base balance. Personal experiences and benefits reported by some users of alkaline water may not be universal due to differences in individual health status and lifestyle.

Potential Benefits of Alkaline Water: Fact vs. Fiction

The dialogue surrounding alkaline water is a blend of evidential claims and anecdotal experiences. To get a clearer picture, let's demystify some of the purported benefits and see where the science currently stands:

Hydration: Alkaline water is said to hydrate better due to its smaller molecular content that allows for quicker absorption. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that drinking alkaline water after exercise may help blood viscosity, which is a measurement of hydration. However, other experts argue that the body's natural mechanisms are highly efficient in regulating pH levels, and therefore, any superior hydration benefits of alkaline water may be overstated.

Acid Reflux: A 2012 study in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology indicated that water with a pH of 8.8 might help to neutralize stomach acid, potentially helping individuals with acid reflux. However, these findings are preliminary and more research is necessary to fully endorse alkaline water as a treatment for gastrointestinal conditions.

Antioxidant Properties: Alkaline water is often marketed as an antioxidant that can counteract the aging process. It's believed to contain negative oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), which means it may offer extra electrons that can neutralize harmful free radicals. Nevertheless, there is limited research available to conclusively support this claim, and many scientists recommend obtaining antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables instead.

Bone Health: Some proponents believe that because alkaline water can help reduce acid in the bloodstream, it may prevent calcium from being leached from bones, thus improving bone health. However, a review in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that there was no substantial evidence to suggest that an alkaline diet or alkaline water could prevent osteoporosis or maintain skeletal muscle mass.

Detoxification: Claims of alkaline water's ability to detoxify the body are widespread, yet there is little evidence to support this. Detoxification is primarily the liver's role and the benefits of alkaline water in this aspect lack substantial scientific validation.

Weight Loss: There is a theory that alkaline water can help with weight loss by increasing metabolic rate or reducing appetite, but research has not shown a direct correlation between water pH level and significant weight loss. Lifestyle factors such as diet quality and physical activity play a much more critical role in weight management.

Cancer Resistance: Some assert that an alkaline environment can slow or stop the spread of cancer cells. This is based on the idea that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. However, this is a hypothesis that has not been proven in human studies, and the body's intricate system for regulating pH levels makes it questionable whether drinking alkaline water has any impact on the body’s overall pH or on cancer cells.

In summary, while there are individual studies that hint at the potential benefits of alkaline water, they often provide weak or preliminary evidence. Much of what's posited about alkaline water falls into the realm of fiction, or at best, is yet to be substantiated by rigorous, large-scale research. As such, more extensive and comprehensive studies are needed to clarify alkaline water's role in human health and to confirm whether it offers any advantages over conventional tap or filtered water.

The Debate on Alkaline Water and Gastrointestinal Health

The discussion around alkaline water and its effects on gastrointestinal (GI) health is ongoing and can often be polarizing among health professionals and researchers. Below, we explore various facets of this debate, breaking down what is known, what is hypothesized, and what requires further investigation.

Alkaline Water: A Basic Overview
Alkaline water refers to its pH level – a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. Regular drinking water generally possesses a neutral pH of 7, while alkaline water typically has a pH above 7, which means it is less acidic, and, in theory, may neutralize acid in your bloodstream.

Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD)
One area where alkaline water has gained attention is in the potential benefit to those suffering from GERD. A 2012 study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that water with a higher pH than typical tap water can reduce the enzyme activity that contributes to GERD. This suggests that alkaline water might help soothe the burning sensation associated with acid reflux.

The Role of Hydrochloric Acid
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCl) as a necessary component for the digestion of food. A concern arises with the claim that drinking alkaline water can affect the stomach's acidity. The body is adept at regulating pH levels, and thus, it's argued that drinking alkaline water will not significantly alter the stomach's pH. Critics maintain that the potent acidity of stomach acid can neutralize the alkalinity of water before any impact on digestion occurs. However, some practitioners claim that neutralizing even a small amount of stomach acid can facilitate better digestion in some individuals.

Alkaline Water and Enzymatic Activity
Digestive enzymes are crucial for breaking down food, and these enzymes function optimally at specific pH levels. Some argue that drinking alkaline water could potentially interfere with digestive enzyme efficiency. However, the scientific evidence to conclusively support this claim is sparse. Additional research is required to understand the intricate relationship between water pH and enzymatic function within the GI tract.

Potential Changes in Gut Microbiota
The gut microbiota is a complex and delicate ecosystem that can be influenced by several factors, including diet and pH. The question arises whether long-term consumption of alkaline water may lead to an imbalance in these microbiomes, possibly affecting overall GI health. Investigative studies are needed to shed light on the possible implications of altered gut pH due to regular intake of high pH water.

Hydration and Mineral Content
Alkaline water is often touted for its enhanced hydrating properties due to its mineral content. The presence of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium can contribute to the water's alkalinity and potentially offer nutritional benefits. However, excessive consumption of alkaline water may contribute to an imbalance in mineral homeostasis, although the risk is considered to be low for healthy individuals.

In summary, the debate regarding alkaline water and gastrointestinal health encompasses a range of factors from potential GERD relief to concerns over enzymatic and microbiota alterations. While certain preliminary studies suggest benefits, the consensus in the scientific community calls for more robust and long-term research to provide clear answers.

Possible Downsides and Overconsumption Risks

While alkaline water is often touted for its potential health benefits, it's important to be aware of the possible downsides and risks associated with its overconsumption. Keep in mind that balance is key in any diet, and the same applies to the type of water you drink. Here, we delve into the potential risks of drinking too much alkaline water:

  • Imbalance in pH Levels: Our bodies naturally maintain a tight pH range, especially in the blood. Overconsumption of alkaline water may lead to an imbalance, as the body works hard to stabilize pH levels. This could potentially disrupt normal bodily functions.
  • Disruption of Stomach Acidity: The stomach needs a certain level of acidity to digest food properly. Drinking excessive amounts of alkaline water could neutralize some of the stomach's acid and impede digestion, potentially leading to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Metabolic Alkalosis: A condition characterized by an exceedingly high pH level in the body, metabolic alkalosis can occur if one consumes too much alkaline water. Symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, hand tremors, muscle twitching, and tingling in the extremities or around the mouth. In severe cases, it can lead to a decrease in calcium in the body, resulting in compromised bone health.
  • Impact on Kidney Function: Those with kidney issues need to be particularly cautious with alkaline water. Kidneys regulate blood pH levels, and a sudden influx of alkalinity could exacerbate underlying kidney problems or lead to the precipitation of minerals, forming kidney stones.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: Drinking large quantities of alkaline water may upset the body's natural balance of electrolytes, essential for muscle function and other important physiological processes.

It's also worth noting that the evidence supporting the health benefits of alkaline water is not conclusive. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that while there may be some benefits to alkaline water, more comprehensive research is needed to validate these claims.

Therefore, moderation is key, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions should consult with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to their water consumption habits. Drinking water with a balanced pH and ensuring you are well-hydrated with regular, clean water is generally a safe and health-supportive practice for most people.

Alkaline Water vs. Regular Water: Making an Informed Choice

The choice between alkaline water and regular water is not just a matter of taste preference; it involves understanding the potential health impacts and the science behind the pH scale. The pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14, measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. Regular water typically has a neutral pH of 7, while alkaline water has a pH above 7, sometimes as high as 8 or 9. Here, we'll explore the differences between the two, reflect on scientific studies, and consider expert opinions to help you make an informed decision.

Composition and Production:
Alkaline water often contains alkaline minerals and has undergone a process known as electrolysis, which uses electric current to separate the water into acidic and alkaline components. Regular tap water, on the other hand, is treated by municipalities to remove contaminants and may include added minerals for taste. While the mineral content of both waters varies depending on the source, alkaline water is characterized by higher levels of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Health Claims and Scientific Evidence:
Proponents of alkaline water suggest it can neutralize the acid in the bloodstream, boost metabolism, and help the body absorb nutrients more effectively. However, these claims are contested. According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, while there is some evidence to suggest that naturally alkaline water may have antioxidant properties, the benefits of artificially alkaline water are less clear. Another study, featured in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, indicates that alkaline water may be beneficial for people with acid reflux by deactivating pepsin, an enzyme related to the condition.

Hydration and Athletic Performance:
Hydration is key for overall health and athletic performance. Some studies suggest that alkaline water might hydrate better than regular water. However, the differences might be negligible for the general population. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a study indicating that alkaline water might improve hydration status for athletes after strenuous exercise, but further research is necessary to fully understand this relationship.

Expert Opinions:
Nutritionists and health experts often emphasize maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to naturally balance the body's pH, rather than focusing solely on water with higher alkalinity. The Mayo Clinic suggests that regular water is best for most people and there is not enough scientific evidence to verify the benefits of alkaline water.

Cost and Accessibility:
When deciding between alkaline and regular water, consider the cost and accessibility. Alkaline water can be more expensive and less available than regular tap or filtered water. Additionally, the need for special appliances to produce alkaline water at home can add to the cost.

While there are claims supporting the benefits of alkaline water, they are often not backed by conclusive scientific evidence. Both alkaline and regular water can contribute to your daily hydration needs. If you are considering making a switch to alkaline water, it's important to weigh the potential benefits against the scientific research and experts' recommendations.

Frequently asked questions

Alkaline water may offer potential benefits for people with acid reflux by deactivating pepsin, which could alleviate symptoms. However, individuals with kidney disease should exercise caution, as the kidneys are primarily responsible for regulating the body's pH, and consuming high-pH substances could exacerbate their condition. Always consult a healthcare provider before making significant changes if you have an underlying health issue.

While alkaline water may contain beneficial minerals, consuming it in excessive amounts could potentially lead to an imbalance, particularly for electrolytes like calcium and magnesium. The kidneys usually maintain mineral balance, but individuals with kidney dysfunction or those drinking large quantities of alkaline water may experience issues. It is generally advisable to maintain a varied diet to ensure adequate mineral intake rather than relying solely on alkaline water for this purpose.

Yes, the source of alkaline water can influence its potential health benefits. Naturally alkaline water derives its pH from minerals absorbed during its passage over rocks, and may also contain various trace elements. In contrast, artificially alkaline water produced through electrolysis might lack these additional nutrients and its benefits are less well-documented. It's important to consider the source of alkaline water when evaluating its potential impact on health.

The body has robust mechanisms to maintain a stable pH balance through the function of the kidneys, lungs, and buffering systems. When you consume alkaline water, these systems work to quickly neutralize any potential impact on the overall pH levels. Therefore, despite the higher pH of alkaline water, the body's internal environment remains relatively unchanged as these regulatory systems adjust accordingly.

Ask a question about Alkaline Water and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible long-term side effects

  • disruption to stomach acidity
  • metabolic alkalosis
  • impact on kidney function
  • electrolyte imbalance


  • possible improved hydration
  • potential relief from acid reflux
  • antioxidant properties (limited evidence)
  • improved athletic recovery

Healthier alternatives

  • water with balanced ph
  • regular, clean water

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Essentia Alkaline Water

  • 99.9% purity level
  • Infused with electrolytes
  • pH 9.5 or higher
  • Ionized hydration
  • Smooth taste profile
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-13-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-13-2023

Random Page

Check These Out!