Health & Wellness

Drinking alkaline

Alkaline water devotees are swearing to the health properties they say come as a result of drinking water with a higher pH level. And in the blink of an eye, drinking alkaline water, also known as ionized water, is the latest trend. Consumers believe drinking water with a pH level between eight and 10 neutralizes the acidity that is taken in daily, which results in better hydration and a better looking, feeling and functioning body. Some even say it simply just tastes better than water they’ve been accustomed to drinking.

Jessica Green, mid-30s, is a recent alkaline water convert after being told that the brands she drank weren’t good for her, considering she has a respiratory illness. Since she’s started drinking alkaline water, she says she feels better. She even has her two children drinking the same.

“Since I started drinking it, I don’t feel anything direct, but for the illness I have, I feel better.”

She admitted that she didn’t just switch to alkaline water, but that she’s also trying to eat better.

The “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level, and a pH is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of zero to 14. Something with a pH of one would be very acidic, and something with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline.

As alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water, advocates of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in the body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular water is best for most people. They state that there is no scientific evidence that fully verifies the claims made by supporters of alkaline water.

Donnaveo Sherman, intracellular healer, herbalist and nutritionist at Essentially Alkaline, a plant-based herbal store on Rosetta Street, Palmdale, says with all the designer waters out there, he recommends that people drink spring water.

“People are actually taking the water thinking they can actually balance their pH, and the body actually does that normally. We push mineralization. The minerals are either in an alkaline state or in an acidic state, and that’s normal. So, you have phosphorus and sulfur and a few others that are acidic and then you have minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, and sodium – those are alkaline, so what you’re trying to do is strike a balance.”

Sherman said spring water is naturally alkaline because of the bicarbonates and the minerals.

Water that’s naturally alkaline, he said, occurs when water that runs over rocks is absorbed and passed through the rock’s porous surface, filtering out all of the impurities, and picking up minerals, which increases its alkaline level.

“We have water coming from various locations – Iceland, Fiji, places in North America, Europe, all across the globe, because they have aquifers that have these non-tainted pristine locations that produce spring water which is natural, or as nature intended it. There’s no adding of anything into spring water. They funnel it from the source, check it to make sure there are no levels of bacteria, microbes and different contaminants such as heavy metals which are not normal. By and large, spring water is natural, and it’s the mineral content that is the alkalizing effect.”

Many people who drink alkaline water buy alkaline water that’s been through a chemical process called electrolysis. This technique uses a product called an ionizer to raise the pH of regular water.

“Alkaline water is manmade water that has been ionized either using a machine or electroplates, but that type of ionization doesn’t last long. And typically, that type of water is tap water and tap water usually has a bunch of other stuff inside of it depending on where it’s from, so you have to look at the source of where they’re getting the water from and what they’re putting in the water,” said Sherman.

“People are getting it twisted and not understanding that it’s not alkalinity or acidity that the body is trying to ascertain. It’s trying to get the mineral content.”

Types of water

In today’s water world with the many different types of waters offered – tap water, mineral water, spring water, well water, purified water, distilled water, sparkling water – Sherman said it’s all wording.

“They don’t say tap water, they say purified water. Purified water is tap water – they just filter it. Spring water is natural water that is in a natural aquifer that is self-replenishing, whether it be a glacier, and where they’re located, there is no pollution. It comes out of rocks, it comes out of aquifers, it’s self-replenishing,” he said.

Sherman said the water trend is big on marketing and advertising.

“Everything is advertising, so they’re going to advertise keywords that people are kind of hip to … ‘alkaline’, ‘pH’. They’re going to say things that are going to appeal to people because it’s an advertising gimmick; so they’re going to say they have a high pH above seven, eight, nine, 10.”

He said the body really doesn’t care about that because it self-regulates its own pH, and that alkalization doesn’t really take place until a person actually drinks the water the body processes as it goes through the normal digestion process.

“No matter what you try to drink, your food and water still have to go through your stomach, and your stomach is filled with hydrochloric acid. It’s there to break things down and to destroy microbes and bacteria and, of course, you have an alkalizing effect as it goes through the rest of the digestion process. But the end result is the body is trying to ascertain mineral crystals/salts – iodides, phosphates and things of that nature – that’s what the body feeds on. It breaks everything down to mineral crystals/mineral salts and that’s what the body functions on.”

A study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against drinking water with low mineral content, created by reverse osmosis, distillation and other methods (without additional mineralization) on a regular basis.

“When you’re just drinking alkaline water, you’re buying into the advertising, so it may and may not be the best thing for you. Even though it has a high pH, it would not change the pH of your body. It could actually even cause health problems – issues with digestion and whatnot.”

The blood, he said, needs the right balance of acidic and basic (alkaline) compounds to function properly. An increase in acidity causes pH levels to fall. An increase in alkaline causes pH levels to rise. When the levels of acid in a person’s blood is too high it’s called acidosis. When the blood is too alkaline it’s called alkalosis.

Sherman said there is such a thing as over-alkalizing the body, and that the stomach needs to have hydrochloric acid. Alkalosis, he said, occurs when the body has too many bases. It can occur due to decreased blood levels of carbon dioxide, an acid; and can also occur due to increased blood levels of bicarbonate. The opposite, Sherman said, would be acidosis, an excessively acidic condition of the body fluids or tissues.

He said the body is a machine and produces a pH which is between 7.36 to 7.4. which makes it alkaline.

Drinking water

For those that will continue to guzzle their alkaline or designer water, Sherman said it’s good and it’s bad, and that people should be aware of water that’s not structured, and that can actually deplete the body’s natural resources.

“Distilled water is mineral hungry so it will actually pull minerals like calcium from the bones to structure it. The only time I would recommend drinking distilled water is when you’re detoxing, cleansing or if you’re cooking – but not to drink it continuously,” said Sherman.

“The only thing I can probably say about people drinking a lot of alkaline water is the fact that they’re drinking a lot of water, which is good, but you have to really find out the methods of what people are actually doing to obtain alkaline water.

“We don’t know the sources of these waters, or where they’re getting them from. Are they testing them? Are they properly filtering out and dealing with those other issues? So, there’s more things than just alkalinity, but I think we’ve been steered in that direction because it’s a selling point at the moment. And if we go into it and we understand what we’re actually trying to get from the waters, or from food and all these different things, it’s the minerals. Things like seeds and nuts have acid-based minerals; fruits and leafy greens have more alkaline-based minerals, but when you test them with a pH-based tester, you’re going to get either acid or close to neutral; it’s not going to be alkaline. The only thing that may probably test alkaline may be watermelon and maybe cucumber.”

The body is the mechanism that extracts the minerals, and those minerals that balance would be acidic-based minerals or alkaline-based minerals.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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