There are many websites and people that claim drinking alkaline water is good for your health. Some of the claims state that it will prevent cancer, slow aging, provide luxurious hair, boost metabolism, and more. The hypothesis is that drinking water with a high pH will lead to a balancing of your body’s pH. According to the hypothesis, your body’s pH can become unbalanced due to the adverse effects of diets high in acid. When the body is more acidic, according to the opinion, it can succumb to a variety of health problems. With so many websites extolling the virtues of alkaline water, it can be hard to sort facts from snake oil marketing BS.
The body does a good job regulating the pH of different parts of the body for proper functioning. For example, the acid in your stomach breaks down and begins the digestion process of protein. Other areas of the body are acidic to help prevent microbial growth and infections. The body can maintain a steady pH level of the bloodstream (Schwalfenberg, 2012). For many, this was information that we learned in high school biology class.
No known scientific research supports the health claims of drinking alkaline water (Fenton & Huang, 2016). Research does not support the claims that drinking alkaline water will help to reverse osteoporosis (Day et al., 2010; Schwalfenberg, 2012). There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims of cancer prevention and the role of diet pH (Fenton & Huang, 2016). You may want to think twice about drinking alkaline water to improve the shine and strength of your hair. Research has shown that mice have experienced dull and patchy fur as a result of long-term exposure (3 years) of drinking alkaline water (Merne, Syrjänen, & Syrjänen, 2001). According to the research, the dull and patchy fur seems to be either a systemic toxic or metabolic response to the alkaline water.
So, is alkaline water healthy or a hoax? The claims are more aligned with being a hoax than healthy for you.
While alkaline water may not be the cure-all, there is something that has evidential scientific support that may help with cancer prevention (Fu & Morishita, 2017; Smith, Gordon, Scruton, & Yang, 2016; Owen, Daly, Livingston, & Fraser, 2017), slowing the effects of aging (Best, Chiu, Liang Hsu, Nagamatsu, & Liu-Ambrose, 2015; Cao Dinh et al., 2016), helping to prevent or manage osteoporosis (Oksuz & Unal, 2017; Song, 2014), and boosting metabolism (Al Obaidi & Mahmoud, 2014; Zigmond et al., 2009). That something is exercise.
- Al Obaidi, S., & Mahmoud, F. (2014). Immune responses following McKenzie lumbar spine exercise in individuals with acute low back pain: A preliminary study. Acta Medica Academica, 43(1).
- Best, J. R., Chiu, B. K., Liang Hsu, C., Nagamatsu, L. S., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2015). Long-term effects of resistance exercise training on cognition and brain volume in older women: Results from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 21(10), 745–756.
- Cao Dinh, H., et al. (2016). Effects of physical exercise on markers of cellular immunosenescence: A systematic review. Calcified Tissue International, 1–23.
- Day, R. O., Liauw, W., Tozer, L. M., McElduff, P., Beckett, R. J., & Williams, K. M. (2010). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the short term effects of a spring water supplemented with magnesium bicarbonate on acid/base balance, bone metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women. BMC Research Notes, 3, 180.
- Fenton, T. R., & Huang, T. (2016). Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer. BMJ Open, 6(6), e010438.
- Fu, J. B., & Morishita, S. (2017). The future of rehabilitation in oncology. Future Oncology.
- Merne, M. E., Syrjänen, K. J., & Syrjänen, S. M. (2001). Systemic and local effects of long-term exposure to alkaline drinking water in rats. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 82(4), 213–219.
- Oksuz, S., & Unal, E. (2017). The effect of the clinical pilates exercises on kinesiophobia and other symptoms related to osteoporosis: Randomised controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 26, 68–72.
- Owen, P. J., Daly, R. M., Livingston, P. M., & Fraser, S. F. (2017). Lifestyle guidelines for managing adverse effects on bone health and body composition in men treated with androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer: an update. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis.
- Schwalfenberg, G. K. (2012). The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, 727630.
- Smith, L., Gordon, D., Scruton, A., & Yang, L. (2016). The potential yield of Tai Chi in cancer survivorship. Future Science OA, 2(4), FSO152.
- Song, Q.-H., et al. (2014). Effect of Tai-chi exercise on lower limb muscle strength, bone mineral density and balance function of elderly women. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 7(6), 1569–1576.
- Zigmond, M. J., Cameron, J. L., Leak, R. K., Mirnics, K., Russell, V. A., Smeyne, R. J., & Smith, A. D. (2009). Triggering endogenous neuroprotective processes through exercise in models of dopamine deficiency. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 15, S42–S45.