Diary / Wellness / Oct 10, 2022
Should You Start Drinking Alkaline Water?
Written by: Michele Ross
There’s no shortage of trends and hacks that gain traction in the wellness world—but as a friendly reminder, it’s essential to take a closer look at all claims to see if the science actually checks out. On this point, you may have heard of (or even tried) alkaline water, which supporters say has the ability to yield some pretty major benefits for your health.
To see if alkaline water is actually beneficial, totally hyped up, or somewhere in between, we reached out to New York–based dietitian Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RD for her expert insights.
What is alkaline water, exactly?
“Alkaline water is water that has gone through a process of electrolysis to give it a higher pH value than standard tap water,” Pasquariello begins. For reference, standard drinking water typically averages out to a neutral pH level of 7, whereas alkaline water will clock in at a pH level at or around 9.
Bottled varieties aside, alkaline water can also be found in nature “where water flows by or through rock formations, allowing it to pick up trace minerals,” she continues.
Is alkaline water proven to be more beneficial for your health?
As Pasquariello explains, purported benefits of drinking alkaline water include:
- Neutralizing acid in your system
- Offering support for cardiovascular and skeletal health
- Boasting anti-cancer properties
“However, much of the research to date doesn't yet fully substantiate this,” she shares. “For the vast majority of the population, there is not going to be a huge nutritional or biochemical benefit to drinking alkaline water compared to filtered or tap water—with the exception being in very specific medical cases.”
With that said, she does mention existing research in which alkaline water showed promise in specific populations. To start, a 2017 study in 36 male soccer players “found that those who drank alkaline, low-mineral water responded to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises with a favorable lactate utilization and a decrease in specific urine gravity, indicating better hydration, as well as increased urine pH, which is also seen with diets high in fruits, vegetables, and non-cheese dairy products,” she explains.
Next, Pasquariello references a 2012 study in which intake of alkaline water at a pH level of 8.8 demonstrated “the potential for therapeutic action for those with acid reflux since alkaline water denatures pepsin, which can help reduce symptoms.”
In short, these studies show promise for alkaline water in certain demographics—though its more impressive claims (such as those shared in the bullets above) have yet to be substantiated.
The final verdict
All things considered, does alkaline water get this dietitian’s stamp of approval?
“To some, alkaline water might taste better—[meaning] more refreshing, slightly smooth, or even vaguely sweet—but this is essentially the only benefit I'd stand by from a health or research perspective,” Pasquariello shares. “There really aren't any specific nutritional benefits that would apply to the population in general.”
With that said, if you’re interested in (pun alert) testing the waters, she doesn’t unequivocally advise against it; just remember that it’s unlikely to improve your health status by a landslide. Moreover, she suggests that consumers be mindful of their intake of bottled alkaline water for the sake of eco-friendliness.
(Personally, I enjoy the taste of Jove alkaline water, which has a pH of 9.5 and is BPA-free; the brand also shares resources that speak to its efficacy for cellular hydration and skin health, plus what they’re doing to reduce their environmental impact. In addition, Berkey filters not only remove 200+ contaminants from tap water to make it safe to drink, but can also make your H2O more alkaline by increasing pH levels by 0.5 to 1.0.)
“If you have the privilege of purchasing an alkalizing water system or filter for your home (note: they are usually fairly pricey), and this is something that's a priority to you, go for it,” she concludes. However, it ultimately comes down to personal preference—yet, of course, the importance of staying hydrated can’t be underestimated.