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Alkaline Water: Claims and Counterclaims

People have a lot to say about alkaline water, so we take a look at some of the arguments for and against drinking it. Speculation or super drink?

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The the use of alkaline water is being hailed as the latest health and beauty miracle worker. Far from being some new-age concoction, alkaline water is simply water that has been treated via the use of an alkaline water machine. Through a process known as electrolysis, the pH balance of the water is raised. This is achieved when the alkaline water machine separates the water molecules that have a positive charge from those which contain a negative charge. Depending on the setting of the machine, the molecule separation will result in either acidic or alkaline water.

The claim is that by regularly drinking alkaline water, the toxins in the body will be neutralized, thereby improving health. By neutralizing toxins within the body, the immune system is strengthened. Many practitioners of holistic medicine claim that several illnesses and diseases can be treated and even cured by raising the body’s alkaline level. One major claim that is currently being closely researched is the fact that since cancer cells are unable to live in a significantly alkaline environment, this may be an effective means of cancer treatment and possible prevention. Other degenerative health issues such as diabetes and arthritis are also being tested using the body’s alkaline environment.

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Another benefit of drinking alkaline water is that it strengthens bones, making it effective in the prevention of osteoporosis. Since the ionization of water requires that certain minerals be dissolved in it, this infuses the water with the necessary materials to strengthen bone structure. Alkaline water is more easily absorbed into the body’s bloodstream and cells, meaning it improves hydration. This aids in increasing energy and mental alertness as well as improving overall health and boosting the immune system.

Alkaline water is absorbed more quickly and easily by the cells and blood stream due to the fact that its molecule structure is much smaller than that of regular water.

Alkaline water is also purported to be good for the skin and hair. Hard water contains minerals such as magnesium and calcium which can react with the soap you shower or wash your face with, creating a kind of “curdled” substance which leaves a light coating of gooey residue on your skin and hair which remains even after thorough rinsing. Alkaline water dissolve this filmy coating and washes it away, leaving the skin and hair truly fresh and clean.

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The same minerals that cause this very undesirable reaction with soap and shampoo can also do damage to household appliances such as coffeemakers, shower heads and faucets. Over time, these minerals build up deposits in whatever they pass through, and these deposits build up in, clog, and corrode the inner workings of appliances, faucets, etc. Since alkaline water is free of these harmful substances, it is safe and appliance-friendly.

As with anything that seems to be such a miracle worker, there are some negative aspects associated with alkaline water. For example, while some things such as household appliances and pipes may need to be protected from the minerals that are present in non- alkaline, or “hard” water, the human body cannot tell the difference. Most water that is found in nature has a pH level that syncs up perfectly to accommodate the minerals that are present in the water; therefore when you drink water, since the body has no way of differentiating between the two types, it automatically assumes alkaline minerals such as magnesium and calcium are in the water it is ingesting. Because of this, drinking ionized water leads the body to believe it is taking in alkaline minerals which are in fact not present in the water.

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Another important point is that alkaline water that has been created by artificial means is only effective at neutralizing acidity within the body in the areas where it has direct contact, such as the small intestine and the stomach. If alkaline water is ingested on a daily basis, these areas – especially the small intestine – will quickly become overly alkaline. This can lead to serious side effects and health problems such as bladder and urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, anxiety and nervousness, and erratic heartbeat, just to name a few.

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It is possible to drink alkaline water for it’s benefits without causing harm to your body. Moderation is the key. Naturally alkaline water is recommended and even then a maximum of no more than two liters per day. Ionized water or water that is artificially alkaline is only recommended if you take the time to check your body’s pH level daily and then modify your intake of alkaline water accordingly. Ionized water is not recommended for use as drinking water on a daily basis as it can easily cause the body to become too alkaline and result in the aforementioned health issues.

It must be said that there is little actual evidence to support any of these claims in support or against alkaline water. It’s been the most recent in a long line of health “fads” and only time will tell (and more scientific research) whether it is as important to the human body as many would have us believe. Watch this space.


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Sources

Nutrition

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