Is alkaline water good for you?
History of Alkaline Ionized Water
Research on electrolysed reduced water (ERW) started in the early 1930’s and gained traction in the 1950’s1 when consumers noted positive health consequences. By the 1960’s, then-research attributed that alkalinity in the water was the case.
By the 1970’s, the thesis of alkaline water caught on in much of Asia, with most of the manufacturing happening in Korea by the 1990’s2.
Alkaline water has been a huge phenomena in both the East and the West. There are thousands of sites, blogs and ads claiming that alkaline water is good for the body.
Is it, though? Let’s break it down.
The Truth About Alkaline Water
First, if you google up “alkaline water research”, you will pretty much find no published papers that has indicated the health benefits of alkaline water. The ones that do indicate some potential health benefits with alkaline water are usually older research papers, and oftentimes the alkalinity would come from machines or extra supplementation that generated “Electrolysed Reduced Water”, or ERW. ERW machines more often than not contain hydrogen3.
Second, depending on the type of alkalinity, alkaline waters can have very different buffers. Alkaline waters that come from hydrogen (or ERW) machines have weak buffers. Meaning that an adult drinking alkalinized hydrogen water will be fine, as the alkalinity dissolves in the bloodstream very easily.
However, if you stand by the notion that alkaline is good for you, then ingesting baking soda is good for you… right?
Not actually, because baking soda has a strong buffer. Ingesting too much baking soda will actually make you very sick, and your body may suffer from a symptom called alkalosis.
Robert O’Young, the famed author of “The pH Miracle” – and who more than likely ignited the alkaline culture in society today – believes that our body will thrive in an alkaline environment. He has a centre called “The pH Miracle Ranch”, where he treated cancer patients with baking soda4. There is reason to believe that his “sodium bicarbonate drips” did not actually work on patients with cancer5.
In 2017, he was jailed for treating patients without a medical license.
Alkaline, or Hydrogen?
The reason why machines that generate Electrolysed Reduced Water have therapeutic benefits is because of the hydrogen it produces.
So why is it alkaline?
It’s all basic chemistry. When you put electrode plates in the machine and run water into it, the electricity splits the water molecules into two gaseous states and two molecular states.
On the cathode side, hydrogen is produced, as well as hydroxyl ions (which makes the water alkaline) and they come out from the primary tube where you drink the water from.
On the anode side, oxygen as well as hydrogen cations (which make the water acidic) are produced. They come out from the secondary tube that’s not for drinking.
For those who like nerding out:
H2O (cathode) = H2 + OH (alkaline)
H2O (anode) = O2 + H+ (acidic)
In summary, there is no evidence that alkaline water has therapeutic benefits, while plenty of evidence that hydrogen water has therapeutic benefits. With alkaline ionized water, if you take the alkalinity out and put in hydrogen, there will be therapeutic benefits. Conversely, if you take hydrogen out and leave the alkalinity alone, there will be no therapeutic benefits6
- Source: Molecular Hydrogen Institute
- Source: Water For Health Note: This site and TWI Group Enterprise does not endorse Water for Health claims of alkaline water
- PubMed: Daily ingestion of alkaline…gastrointestinal symptoms
- He may still be treating patients with sodium bicarbonate, however there is currently no evidence if this is still happening.
- BBC: The dying officer treated for cancer with baking soda
- This eye-opening video is linked at 30:25 for proof explanation by hydrogen researcher Tyler Lebaron.
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