In the 1990’s, alkaline water was new wave thinking.
In the 2000’s, the concept gained popularity and momentum.
By the 2010’s, it was so entrenched that only the most backward thinkers hadn’t heard of its benefits.
The Myth is that it’s good for you. Only now are true facts coming to light: drinking Alkaline Water is one of the worst things you could do to your body. To find out the science of why, let’s examine the myths and then the facts in that order.
First, let’s clarify what Alkaline water is:
Alkaline. Alkaline refers to the pH scale, a measure of acidity and alkalinity from 0 to 14 where acidic is 0, water is neutral at 7.0 and basic is 14. Alkaline is another word for basic – the more alkaline a substance, the more basic and the closer it is to 14.0. Refer to the chart below to place commonly known substances in order of pH.
Alkaline Water. Water that has been run through or soaked in rocks, calcite minerals or alkaline minerals such as calcium carbonate pebbles so as to move the overall pH from a natural 7.0 to as high as 8.8 (the pH of baking soda). Numerous health benefits are claimed to be achieved by using alkaline water as a daily drinking source and each of these is a myth as we will see.
Let’s examine the top 10 myths about Alkaline Water and then explore the underlying science that makes these myths impossible.
Part 1: Top 10 Myths about Alkaline Water
Myth #1: Alkaline water is good for you.
Fact: Its not, its terrible for you. It is in fact poisonous for you over an extended period. We’ll get into why later on but I wanted to lead with that one.
Myth #2: Alkaline water can lower blood acidity. Specifically, since pure water has a pH of 7.0 and blood has a pH of 7.4, therefore we should endeavour to drink alkaline water with a pH of 7.4 or higher (up to 8.5) to support the alkalinity of the blood.
Fact: It doesn’t happen that way. The blood doesn’t draw its alkalinity from our water intake. Our bodies have a complex system of internal buffers and other chemical agents that alkalize or acidify different areas as needed. Far from helping, alkalized water can interfere with this process.
Myth #3: Alkaline water supports the immune system. The specific claim is that drinking alkaline water will prevent you from getting sick because viruses and bacteria can’t live in an alkaline environment (7.4 or higher), only an acidic environment (6.9 or lower).
Fact: Because alkaline water doesn’t influence blood alkalinity, the basis for its action on blood-borne bacteria and viruses is undone. Even so, that blood alkalinity should be used as a segway into a discussion of the immune system illustrates a lack of understanding of true immune system functioning. The actual immune system is driven by the dual action of vitamin D in the blood stream (most kids born in the 20th century were mistakenly taught that it was vitamin C but that’s completely inaccurate) and the immunological tags that B-lymphocytes (nicknamed memory B cells) record against present and past invaders and that the T-lymphocytes (killer T-cells) destroy on contact. Of these two, vitamin D is the easiest to monitor and you get it from the sun, not from alkaline water.
Myth #4: Alkaline water prevents osteoporosis. The claim is that since acidity leaches calcium and other minerals out of the bones, therefore promoting an alkaline environment will neutralize the so-called osteoporosis-causing acidity and halt bone mineral loss.
Fact: Acidity doesn’t cause osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, which can be treated, is caused by toxicity in elemental forms of minerals (lead, tin, arsenic, aluminum, strontium, silicon and even elemental calcium, which is different from nutritional calcium) that get absorbed by the bones and clog the receptors from absorbing necessary bone minerals. Technically, although the bones look porous on a bone scan, they are in fact clogged with non-bioavailable forms of elements that shut down proper bone functioning. This is a complex issue and deserves its own article.
But more importantly, it is not sufficient to merely contradict that putting alkaline water in the stomach can influence this process, as alkaline minerals may in fact contribute to the problem by introducing the very elements that cause osteoporosis. Far from being part of the solution, alkaline water may be part of the problem in some cases.
Myth #5: Alkaline water improves bone density.
Fact: There are only two ways to improve bone density. 1) Weight bearing activity, ideally, progressively heavier weights over time. The only way alkaline water is going to help that process is if you’re physically lifting progressively heavier bottles of the stuff. 2) Bone mineral absorption. In line with the explanation above about osteoporosis, alkaline water sounds like it has the minerals bones need (calcium, etc) but they are not in a form bones can absorb; on the contrary, alkaline water contains some mineral forms that have the potential to clog the bones and cause osteoporosis, thereby reducing bone density.
Myth #6: Alkaline water boosts your metabolism
Fact: Alkaline water has nothing to do with this process. Metabolic rate is a function of overall lean muscle mass relative to fat percentage, and more specifically, the concentration of mitochondria (the organelle that produces ATP or cellular energy) within each cell, which is enhanced through physical conditioning.
Men are usually 12-18% fat mass and 15-20% muscle.
Women are usually 20-25% fat and 10-15% muscle.
Your metabolic rate is a function of your lean muscle percentage combined with mitochondrial percentage within that muscle, and may also have a relationship to thyroid functioning and oxygen uptake at the cellular level. In general, more muscle mass usually means a faster metabolism; lower muscle means a slower metabolism. For the most part, to enhance metabolism you will have to lift weights and eat regular protein meals, there are no short cuts. Alkaline water has no effect on the metabolism.
Myth #7: Alkaline water helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively.
Fact: Although nutrient absorption happens in the small intestine, it starts in the stomach. Absorption is a function of 2 things: how thick your stomach lining is and how much stomach acid you produce. The two go hand in hand. Since stomach acids are acidic and alkaline water is basic, drinking alkaline water will directly neutralize your stomach acids, making it more difficult to digest and absorb nutrients, not less. Depending on the alkalinity of the water, the effect can be as harmful as eating anti-acid pills with dinner where you end up absorbing much less because you’ve neutralized the acid needed to break the food down into digestible form.
Myth #8: Alkaline water treats acid reflux
Fact: Alkaline minerals reduce the acidity of stomach acid and can have a lessening effect on acid reflux in the same way that Tums or Rolaids do, except that acid reflux isn’t a root cause, its the effect of an underlying problem. Acid reflux is actually caused by 1 of 3 things: 1) a parasite you don’t know you have, 2) a heavy metal you don’t know you have or 3) an enzyme imbalance, as in cases where the gall bladder has been surgically removed, which would result in a life-long deficiency in the enzyme lipase and promote considerable acid reflux whenever you ate something with fat in it. Acid reflux is treatable, but not by drinking alkaline water. To better understand what is causing your acid reflux, you would need to have an organ analysis, a parasite screen and a heavy metal screen. Over the long term, alkaline water will make acid reflux worse.
Myth #9: Alkaline water treats rheumatoid arthritis
Fact: It is a misconception that Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused by acidity. In fact metal toxicity causes it: predominantly Tin (but I’ve also seen Arsenic and Lead) which soaks into the bones and causes the inflammation mistaken ascribed to autoimmune functioning. The immune system ejects the metal from the bones, the ejection process causes extreme pain and swelling and we call it “R.A.”. The process of resolving this condition is 3-part: 1) Identify the metal involved, 2) extract it via targeted chelation protocol and 3) identify the source of the metal in the diet or lifestyle and eliminate it to prevent further exposure. None of these are achieved by drinking water, alkaline or otherwise, but quite often water, especially tap water can be sources of these metals.
Myth #10: Alkaline water treats and prevents diarrhea
Fact: If you have diarrhea, you almost exclusively have a parasite. Some metal toxicities can cause diarrhea by wiping out the good bacteria in the colon, preventing them from solidifying your stools but that more commonly results in constipation. Any consistent experience of diarrhea is going to be a parasite you don’t know you have. If a stool test from a medical lab has come up negative (here’s why that might happen), try getting a muscle testing parasite screen done. Its usually more accurate because it covers the 100 or so parasites which a standard health care system or HMO plan doesn’t bother looking for, can’t find or doesn’t want to find because its outside their budget. But alkaline water will have no impact on this. Some parasites actually prefer an alkaline environment, so if you have a parasite, you’d be doing it a favour.
This cycle of myths and facts leads to the obvious conclusion that the claims made about alkaline water are consistently false, but that’s only half the story. We still haven’t addressed Myth & Fact #1, why alkaline water is poisonous for you over an extended period of time. This is the truth about Alkaline Water, and it deserves a more thorough explanation. This article is continued in The Alkaline Water Problem Part 2: Mineral Toxicity.
For now, here are 3 simple things you can avoid:
- Alkalizing water filters
- Alkaline rocks (also called coral calcium rocks) that sit in the basin of your water filter
- A form of calcium supplement labeled coral calcium that is derived from coral or other rock minerals (as opposed to the healthier calcium citrate form).
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