Do you remember the pH scale from high school chemistry class? The pH measurement indicates a concentration of hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution; the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acid solution and 14 being the most alkaline solution. 7 is considered neutral.
When you get to either end of the spectrum, you run into some pretty potent, toxic chemicals – battery acid on one end and the super alkaline bleach on the other.
There is a lot of information available on the internet centering around the idea of alkalinity vs. acidity in regards to health. The general consensus in health circles is that as far as bodily pH is concerned, alkalinity is good and acidity is bad, because disease thrives in our tissues when the environment therein is shifted towards the acidic end of the pH spectrum. The thinking goes this way: We create a toxic, acidic environment inside our bodies that is conducive to disease by eating a diet rich in sugar and processed foods. On the other hand, if we alkalinize our body, it creates an environment less conducive to disease, one more conducive to health.
Diet certainly plays a role in the overall pH of the body. Many health proponents will posit that eating in a way that produces alkalinity in the body is a good goal for those trying to be healthy and avoid disease. For this reason, many purveyors of alkaline water have appeared more recently, claiming the drinking water that is more alkaline can help shift the body’s pH away from acidity, making it less hospitable to disease. Alkaline water has often been touted as a cure-all, a panacea for everything from lethargy to cancer.
But before you go chugging gallons of alkaline water, there are a few things you should consider.
First, your body runs best on pure water that is close to neutral on the pH scale. Alkaline water is much higher than neutral on the pH scale; this isn’t the kind of water your body is designed to operate on most effectively, and it isn’t something you would necessarily drink without the aid of a machine that alkalinizes the water beforehand. Drinking alkaline water regularly actually comes with its share of risks; remember, too, from high school chemistry that when an alkaline substance meets an acidic substance, the mixing of the two results in water and salt. Knowing this, alkaline water can actually neutralize your stomach acid, subsequently putting you at risk for stomach ulcers and the introduction of pathogens (read: fungus). It can also disrupt the bacterial flora in your gut, similar to the way antibiotics can (also, read: fungal proliferation risk).
Like anything else, balance is key. It is true that diseases can thrive in acidic environments. The diet most Americans eat – a diet rich in grains and sugar – puts most of us at risk of living in a low level state of acidosis. This sort of long-term, slightly acidic environment in our tissues may put us at risk for developing disease, which is why the idea of alkalinizing our bodies has gained so much traction. However, that risk is likely reversed when we remove sugar and grains from our diet in favor of green, chlorophyl-rich foods, which work to shift our body’s pH back towards the alkaline end of the spectrum. Ultimately, many studies have shown that moving towards a more balanced state is likely more healthy than moving towards a more alkaline state.
So, is alkaline water something you should include in your diet? In the short run, it has been shown to help aid in detoxification. In the long run though, I do believe that you are better off sticking to a Kaufmann 1 Diet, eating lots of green vegetables, and drinking pure water instead. Alkaline water may actually increase the risk of fungal introduction to the gut. Simply going on the Kaufmann 1 Diet will likely fix any low-level acidosis problems you are experiencing without the aid of alkalinized water.