One of the most well traveled water myths is that of alkaline water and its supposed health benefits. These claims are based on pseudoscience and are not based on facts or science.
I want to first focus on the facts, then I will answer “why” this myth is so persistent and finally, my recommendations.
FIRST THE FACTS…
I want to encourage you to read Dr. Stephen Lower’s website “The gallery of water-related pseudoscience and quackery”. Dr. Lower (a retired chemistry professor of Simon Frasier University) looks at the countless claims made by people selling water and tries to cut through the huge amount of misinformation that is out there.
Here’s a short snippet of what he has to say about alkaline water (see his full analysis here)…
Here, in a nutshell, are a few basic facts that I believe anyone with a solid background in chemistry or physiology would concur with:
- “Ionized water” is nothing more than sales fiction; the term is meaningless to chemists.
- Pure water (that is, water containing no dissolved ions) is too unconductive to undergo signficant electrolysis by “water ionizer” devices.
- Pure water can never be alkaline or acidic, nor can it be made so by electrolysis. Alkaline water must contain metallic ions of some kind — most commonly, sodium, calcium or magnesium.
- The idea that one must consume alkaline water to neutralize the effects of acidic foods is ridiculous; we get rid of excess acid by exhaling carbon dioxide.
- If you do drink alkaline water, its alkalinity is quickly removed by the highly acidic gastric fluid in the stomach.
- Uptake of water occurs mainly in the intestine, not in the stomach. But when stomach contents enter the intestine, they are neutralized and made alkaline by the pancreatic secretions — so all the water you drink eventually becomes alkaline anyway.
- The claims about the health benefits of drinking alkaline water are not supported by credible scientific evidence.
- “Ionized”/alkaline water is falsely claimed to be an anti-oxidant. It is actually an oxidizing agent, as can be seen by its ability to decolorize iodine (see video)
- There is nothing wrong with drinking slightly acidic waters such as rainwater. “Body pH” is a meaningless concept; different parts of the body (and even of individual cells) can have widely different pH values. The pH of drinking water has zero effect on that of the blood or of the body’s cells.
- If you really want to de-acidify your stomach (at the possible cost of interfering with protein digestion), why spend hundreds of dollars for an electrolysis device when you can take calcium-magnesium pills, Alka-Seltzer or Milk of Magnesia?
- Electrolysis devices are generally worthless for treating water for health enhancement, removal of common impurities, disinfection, and scale control. Claims that “ionized” waters are antioxidants are untrue; hypochlorites (present in most such waters) are in fact oxidizing agents.
Here is another article about the myth that people can change the pH of their blood.
I want to add two more points about alkaline water. Your stomach acidity is part of your immune system. It’s your first defense against biological contaminants, such as bacteria and parasites. If you consume Tums or alkaline water, you will temporarily lower the defenses of your body and make yourself more vulnerable to these biological contaminants. This is not something that you want to do, but it’s especially important that you avoid this in an emergency situation.
Also, it’s important to understand that pure water can not be alkalized. In fact, alkalizing equipment will not work to produce their desired effect unless impurities are in the feed water. It needs inorganic impurities to conduct the electrical current that is necessary to change the pH of the water.
WHY IS THIS MYTH SO PERSISTENT?
I believe that there are a two reasons that this myth is so persistent. First, the fact is, MANY PEOPLE WANT TO BELIEVE IN A SILVER BULLET – something that will undue years of unhealthful habits and give us an extra lease on life. This desire to believe in a silver bullet is simply human nature. I’m not making a judgment, I’m just stating that people’s desires affect their willingness to believe in something, which many people take advantage of. More than any other industry that I’ve seen (except maybe the financial industry), water has been a perfect target for snake-oil salespersons.
The second reason that people believe this myth is that alkaline water can temporarily make people feel better. What is one of the most prescribed drugs in the US? Anti-heart burn medication. Thus, taking Tums or alkaline water may help people for a short period of time, but it’s only affecting the symptom and not the underlying cause. Plus, it takes people’s focus off of what should be their primary focus – purity.
Instead of trying to find the magic bullet, I recommend that you keep your priorities straight and focus on consuming clean water. If you do your research on water contamination, you will come to realize, as I do, that the facts are pretty shocking. We live in an increasingly toxic world, and the government can’t ensure the true safety of your water. It’s up to you to ensure that your family is drinking safe, pure drinking water. The best way to do this is with a well-designed water distiller.
I recommend the AquaNui Brand of water distillers, which are made by my father’s business. Before I launched the Survival Still and started my own company, I worked with my father for over 20 years. I know that they are the best distillers on the market and that they are made in the USA by an ethical, fantastic company. I think you will find them to be quite reasonably priced, and surprisingly, even the larger automatic systems are priced lower than a professionally designed filter system.
I personally use and recommend the larger size systems, and I recommend getting a pump with the system so that you can have the water delivered directly to a separate faucet on your sink. An important thing to understand is that it’s not just about drinking pure water, but rather, everything that you CONSUME should be pure. This means that soups, coffee, tea, pasta, rice, protein drinks, and especially baby formula should be made with pure water, which is why I recommend the larger sizes.
If you want to talk to someone about the AquaNui products, call the company at 402-467-9300, extension 327 and talk to Courtney Meder (my sister) who will be able to explain anything about the products and can help you choose the right option.
Of course, I also recommend the Survival Still water distiller for emergency situations, or any other off-grid situation.