Is alkaline water bad for you?

What’s the worst thing you can drink? (among drinks that are supposed to be ok or good for you)
The answer: Alkaline water!

The Science

A healthy body maintains a cellular and blood plasma pH in a very narrow range of 7.35 to 7.45, which is slightly basic or alkaline. Basic and alkaline mean the same thing and may be used interchangeably.

On the pH scale, strongly acidic is 0 and strongly alkaline is 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. The pH scale is logarithmic. This means that a pH of 3 is 10 times as acidic as a pH of 4 and 100 times as acidic as a pH of 5.

The stomach maintains a highly acidic pH of 1.5 to 3.5. This acid level helps the stomach digest food and is the proper environment for digestive enzymes to function. Acidity and digestive enzymes especially break down proteins into their amino acid components. They also help kill harmful bacteria, viruses, mold, mycotoxins, and other living microcontaminants.

Health problems can knock the pH balance off its normal slightly alkaline range. When your blood pH drops below 7.35, it is referred to as acidosis and when blood becomes more alkaline it is called alkalosis. The kidneys and lungs help to maintain blood pH in its normal range. Kidneys remove acids through urine and the lungs remove carbon dioxide by exhaling it.

Foods that metabolize to enhance blood alkalinity tend to be fruits and vegetables, which can even be acidic when eaten, but are digested and metabolized and end up in the bloodstream as slightly alkaline.

The Pseudo-Science

Some marketeers propose that if you eat and drink alkaline food and liquids, they will increase your blood plasma pH to a higher and more healthy alkaline level. Without diving into biochemistry, this could make sense.

However, often the opposite is true. And balance is the body’s goal, not an extreme level of blood alkalinity.

The Effects of Alkaline Water

Quenching your thirst with artificially enhanced alkaline water has the immediate effect of neutralizing your stomach acid.

Without the benefit of stomach acid, lots of bad things happen. Your food is not properly digested, so you do not free the amino acids from proteins and do not release many of the other micronutrients in your food for fermentation and absorption in your intestines. You become undernourished and are lacking in critical nutrients which may have been in your food. Furthermore, a lack of stomach acid and acid-thriving digestive enzymes results in intestinal fermentation of carbs, protein putrefaction, oil and fat rancidity, all contributing to cellular acidity. If you’re not digesting your food properly, how much does it matter if you are eating a diet of fast food and fruit loops or a healthy diet?

Professor Bruce Ames, one of my mentors, in his Triage Theory of Aging, demonstrates that the body uses a triage process to allocate scarce micronutrients for critical body functions such as to maintain beating of the heart, lung function and the nervous system, including brain function. The results of episodic or long-term micronutrient scarcity, whether caused by lack of nutrients in your diet or malabsorption, are that these nutrients are not available for long-term functions such as healthy DNA and RNA replication. Early onset of diseases of aging such cardiovascular, liver, kidney and brain issues and cancer are the undiagnosable, consequential result.

More obvious signs of micronutrient deficiency include brain fog, low energy levels, lack of stamina, and difficulty fighting off illness. Few doctors would look for undernourishment or malnutrition in a patient who says they eat a healthy diet. And few patients would mention that they are poisoning themselves with alkaline water.

The impact of buffered stomach acid includes susceptibility to environmental contaminants entering your body such as harmful bacteria, viruses, mold and mycotoxins. It does not matter if these pathogens enter your body through breathing or eating. They all end up in your stomach to be killed.

It’s obvious that food borne contaminants go to the stomach. It is not so obvious that air borne pathogens also go to the stomach to be killed. However, the function is rather straightforward. Pathogens that you inhale are caught in your lungs. Mucus in the lungs flush the pathogens into your stomach. It’s that simple. However, if your stomach acid has been neutralized with alkaline water, these pathogens do not die as they would in a normal highly acidic stomach. They are passed live into your intestines where they may propagate and be absorbed into your body and circulated via the vascular and lymph systems to all your organs. If a patient has a genetic weakness or injury, this is likely where dysfunction or disease will begin to present.

For confirmation, you can look up the side effects of antacids such as omeprazole or Prilosec – Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drugs. Drinking alkaline water has a similar effect to these acid blocking drugs. And you could experience a pleasant feeling in your stomach temporarily while drinking alkaline water.

People who neutralize their stomach acid whether with drugs or alkaline water have higher counts of Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and some strains of E. Coli, as well as lower protein/amino acid, and micronutrient absorption.

And alkaline water or PPIs neutralize your body’s primary defenses against mold, mycotoxins, harmful bacteria, and viruses.

This is why I believe that alkaline water is the worst form of hydration you can use.

Effect on Pharmaceutical Drugs

Because most pharmaceutical drugs are formulated and manufactured for oral absorption, neutralizing your stomach acids may enhance, decrease, or have no effect on the absorption of various pharmaceutical drugs.

It’s likely that neither your doctor nor pharmacist will be familiar with the effect of neutralizing stomach acid on each drug. It’s likely even the pharmaceutical researchers have not done studies on this variable, so it is likely you are one of the many alkaline water drinkers who are experimenting on yourself regarding the desired effect and side effects of your medication if you are altering your oral drug absorption pathway.

If you are taking more than one pharmaceutical drug, no one will know what to expect from that combination in an unstudied environment of neutralized stomach acid.

Effect on Herbal Treatments

Herbal treatments have a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine in places like India, China, and among indigenous people throughout the world.

It is known that some herbs, such as curcumin from turmeric are difficult to absorb.

Naturopathic doctors, Chinese medicine practitioners, Ayurvedic medicine practitioners, and herbalists likely have little knowledge of the effect of these medicines when stomach acid has been neutralized and the medicines are not broken down in the stomach as has historically occurred. So, in the world of natural medicine, there is likely little understanding of taking medicinal herbs and mushrooms when stomach acids have been neutralized.

My Recommendation

Don’t ever drink alkaline water.

Drink the cleanest water you can, on a regular basis. Tap water and standard bottled water have a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. This is fine and healthy.

I choose to use a Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filter for my water. The one at the house is a name brand 4-stage under counter filter system. When you shop for an RO system, try to find one that has fluoride filtration.

One drawback to RO filters is that they filter so completely that they remove the natural minerals in water. This is where a healthy diet and sophisticated multivitamin/multimineral or ionic minerals can supplement your mineral intake.

I carry the RO water in a variety of containers, depending on the situation. When I go out to the beach to play volleyball for a few hours I take an insulated stainless-steel canister and include ice from my RO supplied icemaker. In my car, I keep a few small, refillable glass bottles that fit in a cup holder. When hiking I use a silicone collapsible water bottle. Occasionally I will use a plastic water bottle for convenience or so I can leave it behind for recycling.

Drink lots of clean, pure water, but don’t ever drink alkaline water!

Wishing you the best of health!

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