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Alkaline Water: Help, or Hype?

By Krista Elliott

One of the most basic nutrition and health rules drummed into us from an early age is that we all need to drink enough water.  Growing up, eight glasses a day was the gold standard, and in my early adulthood it was not unusual to see people toting enormous sippy bottles at work, downing water all day long. 

I was on Twitter the other day, and one of my followers was touting the benefits of alkaline water, how healthy it was and how any other kind of water was, in her words, "trash." My first instinct was to wish yet again that I could skeptically raise one eyebrow like The Rock. But my second instinct was to delve a little deeper. Is there actually something to this alkaline water trend, or is it all hype?

Water, Water, Everywhere

You might be surprised that water can be alkaline or acidic. As a general rule, pure water does skew pretty closely to a chemically neutral substance (7.0, for those of you who remember Grade 12 chemistry class). The thing is, even though our water might be clean, it might not always be pure. Minerals or other substances can affect the acidity or alkalinity of our water. And even if you drink bottled, there can still be small variances. Just for kicks, I tested some regular old bottled water from a major bottler, and it came out at 7.4: Slightly alkaline. 

But proponents of alkaline water aren't drinking it inadvertently. Instead, they claim that alkaline water slows aging, regulates your pH level, gives you more energy, and can even decrease your risk of certain cancers. 

Helpful? Or Hype?

The theory is that the typical American diet puts our body into a state of high acidity, called acidosis. Now, our human blood does have a pH of 7.4, and it's important for it to stay at that level. Presumably, drinking alkaline water helps to offset the high acidity of our body tissues caused by our diet, bringing them back toward the same alkalinity as our blood. 

So, that's the theory. Does it work? Well, there have been no peer-reviewed studies regarding alkaline water's effect on cancer rates. However, some other studies have been a bit surprising, showing improved hydration, lower incidences of heartburn and reflux, and lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. 

So perhaps there's something to it after all!

How Do I Try It? 

As a general rule, bottled mineral waters tend to be pretty alkaline. So if you're already a Perrier drinker, keep on. There are also other bottled waters out there that are specifically marketed as alkaline water, with a pH of 8 or more. Other bottled waters tend to be more neutral. However, you can buy an ionizer machine to make your own tap or bottled water more alkaline. 

One word of caution: If you're prone to kidney problems, the minerals in alkaline water should be avoided. Stick with regular water instead. Your health will still benefit from the extra hydration, even if it isn't trendy. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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