Editorial: Is water alkalinity beneficial, or just another healthy buzzword?


by Zach Redwood
Managing Editor

In the recent years, the consciousness of water consumers has shifted from whether or not the water is still or sparkling to worrying about the water’s alkalinity levels and pH balance.

Alkaline water, simply put, is water that is less acidic and has a higher pH balance than normal tap water. People that have a high focus on fitness and nutrition mostly use this type of water. Most people choose to drink alkaline or mineral water in order to help safeguard his or her body’s overall acidity. Which may explain the popular theory that water with a lower pH may affect the body in negative ways.

In August 2016, a mother by the YouTube name Stephanie Lee uploaded a video of her daughter and her conducting a home pH balance test on many common brands of bottled water. The mother and daughter went on to show that many of the brands of water that people buy do not have high pH, but most have closer to neutral and lower pH. The two showed that many of the more expensive brands of water did not redeem any actual health benefits.

Lee’s video was certainly not the first pH test done on bottled water on YouTube. Videos like this have been around for decades. Her video, however, was very relatable to the average consumer. The fact that a mother was conducting the test instead of a scientist or expert, made the video that much more shareable on social media.

Here in lies the problem: the information being shared is not necessarily important to everyone.

People that buy drinking water are already slightly committed to drinking the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) amount of water, so naturally you would expect these people to be worried also about which type of drinking water they are consuming.

The question is, do “regular” people need to be worried about the pH balance and alkalinity of the water that he or she drinks?

“There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the idea that alkaline water has health benefits. The body maintains a stable pH using a buffering system, and even drinking highly alkaline substances like drain cleaner (which would cause chemical burns) would not alter our body’s blood pH. Save your money,” said Tulsa Community College’s Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Valerie O’Brien.

Studies done by the “Journal of Environmental and Public Health” and the “British Medical Journal” suggest that there are no proven benefits for or against alkaline water.

Unless you are a top-tier athlete, pushing your body to the absolute limit on a regular basis, consuming alkaline water is more about the minerals that it contains rather than the pH of the actual water.

“The claims that alkaline water is better for us are not backed by solid science. Our bodies are really good at regulating our pH, and different areas of our bodies function at different pH levels,” says Hayden James, a registered dietician/licensed dietician.

The human body can handle the pH from things like acid from fruits, peppers, and coffee.

The stomach’s pH is normally around 1-2 up to 4-5. When you eat a protein rich meal, your stomach’s pH can drop even lower until the stomach raises the pH to help digest the food. The pH of water is not something that has any effect on the body’s overall pH.