Lots of suggestions regarding alkalization of drinking water. Please think before buying costly alkalizing equipments.
By: James P McMahon, Ecologist
Drinking alkaline water may not be all it's cracked up to be. There’s been a lot of talk lately about alkaline water and in particular a variety of water treatment systems known as alkaline ionizers, some quite expensive, that make your water – and your body – alkaline. There are inherent dangers to this fad that the wise consumer will want to be aware of.
Here’s the premise – some natural health practitioners suggest that maintaining an alkaline body is the key to good health. Some go even farther, suggesting that cancer cannot survive in an alkaline body. Different parts of your body have different levels of pH – your blood maintains a constant pH of 7.4 while your stomach is acidic with a pH of about 4 in order to digest food. People measuring their pH use test strips obtained from health food stores which measure the pH of either their saliva or urine.
As with all topics of relative scientific complexity, opinion on this topic varies widely. A number of health practitioners endorse these ‘alkaline ionizers’ while just as many endorse drinking treated water or even distilled water. And the sales people presenting this equipment to you are only going to tell you one side of that story. When I see discrepancies in endorsements that vary this widely among health professionals, I conclude that no one really knows and what we’re looking at is a matter of opinion. So I’ll share my opinion with you in this document.
From what I am able to discern by reading the literature and speaking with health professionals there appears to be validity to the fact that pH is an important element of good health. And I would suggest to you that the pH of your water is an important factor in your health regimen.
It is my opinion that we humans evolved drinking the water that was around us. This would of course vary in mineral content and pH. In most circumstances though natural surface waters will contain minerals and be moderately above neutral with a pH range above 7 and below 8. There are the occasional springs that are highly acidic and those that are highly alkaline. Since water will reflect the land that it moves through, the content of water will depend on the local landscape.
In my opinion the ideal water to drink has a pH range of 7.4 to 7.6. One key to good health is to drink plenty of ‘appropriately filtered water' and water with a pH in this range will do you good and certainly do you no harm. By filtered water I include a wide array of treatments from simple sediment filters to carbon filters to reverse osmosis. The system you need depends entirely on the contaminants in your water.
I view the sale of alkaline ionizers as a fad with potentially dangerous impacts on the health of users. Here are the dangers associated with buying a water alkaline ionizer:
1) Alkaline Ionizers do not adequately filter your water. The filters included with these systems are not adequate for even the best city water.
2) These systems rely on the contents of your water to produce ions. So, it’s important to know what’s in your water.
3) If your water contains metals these will be concentrated in the alkaline water produced at higher levels than in your untreated water. Concentrations may be two to three times higher than the levels in your untreated tap water. This can be extremely dangerous as these can interfere with the function of glands such as your thyroid.
4) If your water contains unregulated contaminants such as pharmaceuticals these may be transformed by the ionizing process into unknown compounds with unknown health risks. Studies have shown that ozone converts some pharmaceuticals into other unknown compounds as opposed to removing them. The electrical process in alkaline ionizers produces peroxide which acts precisely the same as ozone .
5) Alkaline ionizers can interfere with digestion by raising your stomach pH. The stomach will react to an increase in pH by producing its own hydrochloric acid, but as we age some individuals have more difficulty producing this hydrochloric acid on their own.
So, what can you do to avoid these risks?
First, I recommend that you review the contents of your water, its characteristics and contaminants, before determining what type of water treatment will best serve you. You can do this by obtaining your water provider’s annual water quality report. This report will list the regulated contaminants. With a bit of sleuthing you can also determine whether or not dangerous unregulated contaminants will be present.
Most municipal water will already be slightly alkaline and there’s little need to modify it. If you insist on using an alkaline water ionizer make absolutely certain you also have the appropriate water treatment system. Use only treated water to produce your ionized water.
Excellent health has been documented to result from proper diet including low caloric intake and a regular exercise regimen. Historically human health was a result of eating well and working hard. In recent years we’ve moved away from eating what we grow or what was grown locally to eating processed foods. The nutrient value of modern foods has declined while contaminant levels have increased. At the same time many of us have jobs that cause us to sit all day and exercise very little through the course of our day. Many of the foods we eat cause our bodies to be acidic. If you’d like to make your body more alkaline then I suggest you focus on your diet. Drinking alkaline water is no substitute for living a healthy lifestyle and it may have dangerous consequences for those who have not approached the topic with adequate thought.
Here’s a list of alkaline and acidic foods:
If you’d like to learn more about the affect of pH on health you can search Amazon.com for ‘pH’. One book I recommend is ‘The Battle Over Health Is About pH’, by Gary Tunsky. There are other excellent books about pH and health also available through Amazon.
My view is that drinking highly alkaline water is potentially dangerous and damaging to your health. In the short term you may feel better and for some diseases it may be appropriate but long term I think you're taking a serious and unwarranted risk. Drink appropriately filtered water instead.