Few days ago Dobre emailed me asking about alkaline water.
I recently started doing a little research on the effect of alkaline/acidic water on acne and health in general, and to be honest, I`m really amazed at what I found.
The reason I`m writing this email now, is because I want to know your opinion on the subject, and maybe you could do a blog-post-response something like that, to let people know if this is a scam or it may help.
As you may guess from the title I don’t share her enthusiasm.
This looks just like the other health fantasies and miracle cures that plaque the natural health field.
According to promoters alkaline water is supposed to:
- Bring the body back to healthy alkaline state
- Detoxify the body
- Hydrate you better than normal water
- Act as an antioxidant
- And pretty much cure every ill that has plagued humanity aside from global warming – but hold on that one will probably be added to the list also.
And it’s as simple as drinking water treated with their special machine or drops.
So excuse me if I’m little skeptical.
I couldn’t find any independent verification to these claims. Most positive comments come from people selling these machines and drops. And many of their claims would pass as science fiction. Most credible scientists laugh at them.
I know scientists aren’t always the best source when it comes to new developments in the health field. Energy healing and mind over matter are just few examples. Still the evidence against these claims is staggering.
Let’s look at alkalizing the body first.
Most of this acid/alkaline theory is complete nonsense. The body controls the pH of blood very carefully. It has to because even minor variations would be dangerous or even lethal. It has very good mechanisms for doing this.
Breathing is the primary mechanism for this. As a result of cellular metabolism you develop acidic wastes. Breathing out removes this waste through the lungs. The body also has buffers of alkaline and acids minerals that it uses to maintain proper pH. Any excess acid or alkalinity will be removed via kidneys.
This system works very well and you do not want to mess it up by trying to over-alkalize your body.
Decades of eating acidic and unhealthy foods do degrade the body, and it’s forced to store these acids or toxins into your tissues. Simply because it cannot eliminate them quickly enough. The only thing you have to do is to stop eating these. Instead eat healthier foods.
I don’t believe alkaline water does anything to remove these acidic wastes. Simply because alkaline water stops being alkaline the moment it hits your stomach. Stomach acids are highly acidic and mildly alkaline water does nothing to neutralize them.
And you wouldn’t even want that. Because your stomach needs to be acidic for digesting foods.
When you drink alkaline water the stomach responds by producing more stomach acid to maintain acidity. Due to nutritional deficiencies most people have far too little stomach acid to begin with. Further depleting it simply causes more digestive problems.
Another detox miracle
It seems that almost every week we discover a new miracle substance or process and easily, gently and thoroughly detoxes or flushes toxins out of your body.
They are all based on delusional fantasies about detoxing and how it works. They are always based on the idea that something external is capable of removing poisons from the body. Somehow these inert substances spring into life when they come in contact with toxins and shovel them out of the body when you just kick back and relax.
Last time I checked I had to use the power within my body to put them into my mouth. I have yet to discover a substance that would on its own spring into my mouth. They are no more capable of detoxing your body as they are getting into your mouth on their own.
It’s always the body that detoxes and nothing external can affect the process.
Yes the body uses water to dilute toxins and then eliminate them. But you don’t need alkaline water for that. Simple, pure water works the best.
Alkaline water is also claimed to act as an antioxidant.
The ‘proof’ of this is that oxygen reduction potential (ORP) of alkaline water is much better than normal water. They have nice looking meters to show you this is the case. ORP means the potential to reduce oxygenation (for example rusting or the process that turns cut apple brown).
I just haven’t seen any evidence that this ORP would have an antioxidant effect in the body. Further when you consider that real antioxidants (such as oranges) sometimes have positive and sometimes negative ORP values (alkaline water has negative ORP that that is claimed to be the key to antioxidant power). So if real antioxidants sometimes contradict this ORP claim I wouldn’t put much weight on it.
The hydration claim seems equally bogus.
The claim goes that alkaline water is restructured. They say normal water has clusters with 10 to 12 molecules. Restructuring reduces the cluster size down to 5 or 6 molecules. These smaller clusters are said to be able to penetrate cell walls better and thus hydrate you better.
Of course they forget the fact that water enters cells one molecule at time. So the cluster size is irrelevant to the hydrating power. There’s more to this story, and at the end of the post I’ll provide few references for you to check out if you are interested.
What about all the people alkaline water healed
The most impressing thing in the sites selling machines that alkalize water are the testimonials from normal people and doctors. So many people seem to have been cured from various illnesses by drinking alkaline water.
So it must be the real deal – right?
Well, the human mind is an interesting system. Once you’ve bought into something you’ll do everything to prove you are right. That’s simply how the human mind and our beliefs work.
So any potential health benefit is immediately attributed to alkaline water. Even though there could be many explanations to it.
Most people are dehydrated anyway and that leads to many illnesses. Simply drinking more water can ‘cure’ people. They could have also become more health conscious and change their diet and lifestyles.
Then there’s the placebo effect.
As humans we are quite capable of imagining all the evidence we require to convince us that we and our beliefs are correct.
I’m not saying this is necessarily the case. I’m just saying that the testimonials are not really credible proof that something works. Neither, or I should say especially so, is not discussion at curezone.com. Curezone is perhaps the best source of health fantasies on this planet.
So in conclusion I’m highly skeptical that alkaline water would have any healing power over normal, pure water. It may, but given that the promoters make such ridiculous claims and have no credible proof to back it up, I remain highly skeptical, and would rather use the $1000+ those machines cost to something else.
Until proven wrong, use this as a rule of thumb.
Anytime you see anything that promises to fix or heal you without you having to change your diet or lifestyle, it’s probably not worth your time or money.
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Here are few resource to check out regarding alkaline water:
“Ionized” and alkaline water – snake oil on tap: http://www.chem1.com/CQ/ionbunk.html
Does Alkaline Water Promote Health? by Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA98873
Ask Alice: Alkaline water – Is it better for your body?: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/4067.html
ACID OR ALKALINE? by Dr. Gabe Mirkin: http://www.drmirkin.com/nutrition/1603.html
After looking into the matter a bit more it seems that ‘alkaline’ water might have antioxidant properties.
I found few studies from Asia that indicates that alkaline water could protect against oxidative stress.
Still, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions from abstracts of few studies. It’s too easy to rig the studies to show what you want. Plus from the abstracts it wasn’t clear whether the studies were human or in vitro (in the test tube or petri dish).
So it’s possible alkaline water has antioxidant properties.
If you are interested of looking at the papers here are few links:
- The mechanism of the enhanced antioxidant effects against superoxide anion radicals of reduced water produced by electrolysis.
- Electrolyzed-reduced water scavenges active oxygen species and protects DNA from oxidative damage.
- Reduced hemodialysis-induced oxidative stress in end-stage renal disease patients by electrolyzed reduced water.
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