This article originally appeared in its entirety on healthline.com
You may have heard some of the various health claims about alkaline water. Some say it can help slow the aging process, regulate your body’s pH level, and prevent chronic diseases like cancer. But what exactly is alkaline water, and why all the hype?
The “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level. The pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0-14. For example, something with a pH of 1 would be very acidic, and something with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline.
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Because of this, some advocates of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in your body. Normal drinking water is generally a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water generally has a pH of 8 or 9.
Natural or Artificial?
Water that is naturally alkaline occurs when water passes over rocks – like springs – and picks up minerals, which increase its alkaline level. There are companies that sell products, like ionizers, that claim to make water alkaline through a chemical process called electrolysis. Makers of ionizers say electricity is used to separate molecules in the water that are more acidic or more alkaline. Although some doctors and researchers say these claims are not backed quality research.
A study published by the World Health Organization cautions against drinking low-mineral content water on a regular basis.
Where Do You Get It?
Alkaline water can be bought in many grocery or health food stores. Water ionizers are sold in many large chain stores as well.
You can also make your own at home. Even though lemon and lime juice is acidic, they contain minerals that can change the composition of water. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to a glass of water can make your water more alkaline. Adding pH drops is another way to make water more alkaline. It’s important to use distilled water when making alkaline water because tap water or bottled water may have other additives.
Does It Really Work?
Alkaline water is a somewhat controversial topic. Many health professionals argue against its use, saying there isn’t enough research to support the many health claims made by users and sellers. According to Mayo Clinic, regular water is best for most people as there is no scientific evidence that fully verifies the claims made by alkaline water proponents.
However, there are a few studies that suggest alkaline water might be helpful for certain conditions. For example, a 2012 study found that drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 can help deactivate pepsin, which is the main enzyme that causes acid reflux. This means alkaline water may have some benefits for those who suffer from frequent heartburn.
Is It Safe?
The issue that many health professionals have with alkaline water is not its safety, but rather the health claims that are made about it.
There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of alkaline water as a treatment for any health condition. Medical experts warn against believing all the marketing claims.
Drinking natural alkaline water is generally considered safe, since it contains natural minerals. However, you should use caution with artificial alkaline water, which likely contains fewer minerals necessary for good health than its high pH would have you believe, and overuse may leave you deficient.