Alkaline water spreads misinformation

Sydney Territo is a senior and Veda Thangudu is a sophomore and they are both reporters of the Fishers Tiger Times. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

    As we walk into grocery stores, there are a lot of brands of bottled water on the shelves, labeled alkaline water, claiming to be beneficial for one’s health. This ‘special’ water costs more than regular purified drinking water and despite proven benefits, it does have questionable traits from a scientific standpoint. Alkaline water is said to have a high pH, which results in various health benefits, but what does this actually mean?

    Potential of Hydrogen (pH) is a universal scale used to measure the acidity of substances. It is a scale from zero to 14, with seven being neutral. Anything that has a pH below seven is considered acidic, meaning it is hydrogen rich. Substances that have a pH higher than seven are basic, also known as alkaline. Basic compounds have more hydroxide ions (OH-) whereas acidic compounds have more hydrogen ions (H+). When both the hydrogen and hydroxide ions come together in a ratio of one to one, it makes water, which is neutral (neither acidic nor basic) at a pH of seven.

    Alkaline water has a pH of around eight to nine and a half, which is higher when compared to regular drinking water, making it a more basic substance. According to Healthline, naturally alkaline water is achieved when water passes through rocks, picking up the alkaline minerals. However, the alkaline water available for purchase in grocery stores is usually created through a chemical process called electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process that utilizes an ionizer, which uses electricity to separate the alkaline molecules from the acidic ones. They are then funneled out of the water, leaving the more alkaline water behind to be bottled.

    Alkaline water claims to have a wide range of advantages to the body, such as having anti-aging properties, preventing deadly diseases like cancer and promoting hair growth. Additionally, it is said to aid digestion, cause weight loss, cleanse the colon, increase minerals in the body, support the immune system, lower stomach acidity and increase the pH of blood, which is said to kill stomach bacteria.

    Despite its demonstrated benefits, there are a lot of extraneous claims made about its health benefits that are not scientifically proven. Firstly, water has a pH of seven, making it neutral. So how is anything with a higher than seven pH water? When water is modified to be alkaline, it is no longer water. Some of the more extreme claims include reducing the aging process, preventing cancer, and increasing the pH of the blood. It is not true that alkaline water has anti-aging properties, as there is not enough research to back it up, according to Healthline. Healthline also states that there is not enough research to support the claim about alkaline water cleansing the colon and the claim about strengthening the immune system.

    Some of these allegations are completely incorrect, like the claim about alkaline water intake affecting blood pH. The pH of the water has no effect on blood pH at all, and only affects pH of the urine. Additionally, according to Healthline, the pH of blood ranges from 7.35 to 7.45. When the pH of blood goes above this range, it causes Alkalosis, a condition which has symptoms like vomiting, nausea and hand tremors. It will cause the body’s cells to stop working, very quickly causing death. Furthermore, while cancer has been proven to have enriched growth in more acidic environments, the acidity of the body has nothing to do with whether or not cancer grows. In fact, cancer has been proven to effectively grow in both acidic and basic tissues in the body, rendering this claim useless.

    Moreover, alkaline water claims to lower stomach acidity. Human stomachs have hydrochloric acid to help break down, digest and absorb nutrients. When alkaline substances neutralize it, it is questionable how it aids digestion. 

    Not only are some of the “health benefits” manipulative, they are also spreading damaging misinformation about bodily health. This false advertising targets people who are desperate or vulnerable, which may lead them to be taken advantage of. 

    Alkaline water is more expensive than regular water, based on the comparison between a bottle of Kirkland Signature purified water and a bottle of Kirkland Signature Ionized Alkaline water. The data shows that every 16.9 fluid ounces bottle of regular water costs about $0.68, and every 16.9 fluid ounces of alkaline water costs about $0.97. Additionally, according to Mayo Clinic, regular water is the best for most people. They state that there is no scientific evidence that fully verified the claims made by supporters of Alkaline water.

    If alkaline water does not provide many additional health benefits as compared to regular water, and instead provides damaging and false claims about its product in order to gain more customers and money, it can be viewed as a scam. It is a product filled with false information that targets vulnerable groups in order to make a better profit margin. Alkaline water is a good exercise in caution when it comes to trusting everything a company says. As Healthline states, “Medical experts warn against believing all marketing claims.”