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Alkaline water systems are fashionable – along with juicing and quinoa. Are they just part of a media hyped fad destined to fade into obscurity? Or can they give us real health advantages?
What, if any, are the benefits of drinking alkaline water? We’ve taken a look at the evidence, and consider various alkaline water systems below…
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Most tap and bottled waters have a pH of around 7, where a figure lower than this is more acidic, and above this more alkaline.
Artesian well water containing natural bicarbonate has a pH of over 8, and in some cases this can go as high as 9.5. But, is this good for you? And does it help with the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn? We look at some benefits of drinking alkaline water.
Night time reflux? Read how to avoid it here
Alkalising Health Industry
There’s a huge industry centred around health claims which maintain that alkalising the body is a good thing.
Indeed, there are proponents of the belief that an acidic bodily environment causes a host of chronic diseases, including cancer.
For example, the Budwig centre in Spain is an alternative cancer treatment clinic in Spain which promotes alkaline approaches to managing the disease.
However, be careful – there is much controversy surrounding the efficacy of alkaline treatments.
Alkaline water systems, from alkaline bottled water to concentrated water drops, have sprung (excuse the pun) up to meet the demand, and we’ll take a look at these below.
Water IS Good For You!
In any event, let’s not forget it’s good to drink more water of any type; apart from the generalisation that it’s beneficial to stay hydrated for a variety of reasons including alertness, reduction in stress and to avoid kidney stones, there is some evidence that measurable health benefits can be detected.
For example, 20,000 men and women in the Adventist Health Study were studied and those drinking five or more glasses of water a day had about half the risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who drank two or fewer glasses a day.
A Harvard study of 48,000 men found that the risk of bladder cancer decreased by 7% for every extra daily cup of fluid one drinks. So a high intake of water—like eight cups a day – may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by about 50 percent.
Authorities from Europe, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization recommend for women to drink 4 to 7 cups of water a day, and men 6 to 11 cups²
For acid reflux control in particular, the simple, mechanical action of diluting the refluxing acid in the esophagus brings some relief, though excessive dilution of the stomach acid itself at mealtimes could have a negative effect on heartburn.
The lesson here is to drink in between meals, not at mealtimes.
Alkaline Water Systems – The Evidence
So, water, in general and in moderation is good for reflux sufferers (avoiding mealtimes), but what about alkaline water.? A number of studies suggest it has distinct benefits:
- A 2001 study in the “Shanghai Journal of Protective Medicine” found drinking alkaline water for 3 to 6 months lowered cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure levels.
- A 2010 study published in “The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine,” concluded that participants who drank alkaline water showed an improved acid-base balance and hydration status compared to tap water.
- Dr Greger in NutritionFacts.org references a 2011 study which demonstrates that, compared to a control group drinking regular water, young adults drinking about a quart of alkalinized water a day dropped their bad cholesterol 10% within two months. And older women may achieve a drop of nearly 15%. It even helped their blood sugars³
- In a small study in 2012 alkaline water with pH of 8.8 has been shown to inactivate pepsin (the enzyme associated with the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach), thus neutralising reflux, and acting as an effective acid buffer:
“Unlike conventional drinking water, pH 8.8 alkaline water instantly denatures pepsin, rendering it permanently inactive. In addition, it has good acid-buffering capacity. Thus, the consumption of alkaline water may have therapeutic benefits for patients with reflux disease.”¹
So, The Benefits of Alkaline Water Systems
It would seem there is a good body of evidence supporting the contention that drinking alkaline water may be good for you. Here are 5 benefits of alkaline water systems:
- Drinking more of any type of water may help with one’s general health due to the hydrating effects in the blood and organs, countering heart and bladder disease.
- Alkaline Water in particular may bring particular health benefits, including lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
- Alkaline Water may help especially with hydration and acid based balance.
- For reflux sufferers in particular, alkaline water has been shown to effectively inactivate pepsin, thereby protecting the body’s cells which could be damaged by the stomach’s acid – eg in the esophagus. There seems to be a lot of empirical and anecdotal evidence that some reflux sufferers do benefit from alkaline water.
- It tastes better! This is purely a subjective but widely held, point of view.
Alkaline Water Systems
Alkaline water systems come in various forms, including bottled mineral water, drops and sticks which are added to tap water, and filter jugs.
We have looked at systems which seem to be popular with reflux sufferers, and are recommended by users.
This review excludes any systems which require plumbing into the kitchen.
The popular brands of alkaline bottled water are imported from Iceland. The brand ICEIS is an Amazon Choice with over 4 stars out of 5. More details here (Amazon link)
Alkaline Water Drops
An alternative alkaline water system to bottled water, and certainly a cheaper and convenient way, is to alkalise tap water. One method of doing this is to use drops.
Alkalife Alkalising pH Drops is available in the UK. More details here (Amazon link)
Alternatively, alkaline water can be generated using a purifying stick. The best of these appears to be HailiCare Alkaline Water Stick. More details here (Amazon link)
An even cheaper alternative alkaline water system is to use a water jug and filter. We’ve listed 2 below which are popular with their users, both with over 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon:
First, the Amazon Choice filter jug, the OXA Smart Cool Water Pitcher, More details here (Amazon link).
Night time reflux? Read how to avoid it here
Read more about how antacids work to relieve reflux here
Second, the pH Restore Alkaline Water Jug with 2 Long-Life Filters. More details here (Amazon link).
We decided to test the Phox jug (Amazon link) for ourselves to see what the benefits of drinking alkaline water may be. (Disclosure: we received a complimentary example of this product from the supplier for testing as part of this review).
First impressions were very good. The jug has a solid, quality feel, and is an attractive addition to any kitchen worktop. Our only initial grouse was its size; it is too big to fit into a standard sized refrigerator door. However, its large size and capacity – 3.5 litres – means it doesn’t need filling too often.
It is easy to fill, having a flip up type lid which avoids having to take off the top, and facilitates one handed filling.
It also has an easy to read usage counter, which indicates when the filter needs to be changed.
I have to admit to be being sceptical about the benefits of drinking filtered water – we’ve tried it in the past, and for a variety of reasons (mainly we didn’t notice a great deal of difference in taste!) the jug has ended up in the cupboard, unused.
However, in this case we immediately tasted an improvement in the taste of the water; it tasted silky smooth compared to our tap water.
Admittedly this taste difference has diminished over the nearly 2 months we’ve been using the jug, but that’s to be anticipated as the filter loses its effectiveness.
We still use it in preference to the tap, and consider it has distinct advantages over other alkaline water systems.
Here’s a summary of the key messages on Alkaline water: