Line up eight different glasses of water, and you’ll be surprised at how much the quality can vary. One glass might be plain tap water, treated by your city. The second could be sparkling water, with a low water pH level. The next few might taste like chlorine or dirt. Another two could be special types of filtered water. And the last one may be another type of water entirely—alkaline water.
It’s always important to think about your drinking water quality. In the health and wellness world, alkaline water makes a big splash. But sifting through its mixed reviews can be tricky. How exactly does water pH play a role in our overall wellness?
About the pH Scale
The pH scale is a way that we measure acidity and alkalinity. The range goes from 0 to 14. On the low side of scale, you get battery acid, stomach acid, and acid rain. At the other end, we have the bases, or alkaline substances. That includes bleach, ammonia, and baking soda. According to the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations established by the EPA, safe drinking water should fall somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5 on the pH scale.
Drinking water pH is important because if it’s too acidic, we can have problems with dangerous contaminants (including lead) leaching into our water supply. An unbalanced pH can also affect how your drinking water tastes. A low pH can make water taste sour or metallic, while a high pH can indicate that your water is hard and give it a baking soda taste. So, alkaline water isn’t necessarily any better.
Alkaline Water Pros and Cons
Fans of alkaline water claim that drinking beverages with a higher pH can help balance the body’s chemistry. Since our blood is usually around 7.4 pH, the idea is that drinking alkaline water can help counteract other acidic properties. Of course, the science is still underway.
Some holistic health practitioners argue that acidity affects the body’s ability to fight cancer. Others suggest that an acidic diet can contribute to diseases like osteoporosis. This theory suggests that an acidic system ends up pulling alkaline minerals from the bones to make up for the pH imbalance. But is drinking alkaline water the answer?
For certain individuals, alkaline water might cause more harm than good. For instance, minerals in high-pH water can interfere with medications for kidney conditions. In extreme cases, drinking alkaline water might also lead to metabolic alkalosis, including nausea, muscle twitching, or hand tremors. As with all health decisions, it’s important to talk with your doctor before making adjustments to your diet.
Water pH and Your Health
While the benefits of alkaline water are still a little foggy in the health world, proper hydration isn’t up for debate. The problem though, comes with what we choose to drink. When considering the pros and cons of alkaline water, it’s important to pay attention to the other side of the equation—water that’s too acidic. A surprising number of bottled water brands measure closer to the acidity level than a balanced drinking water pH. Those levels can be bad news for your smile.
If the pH is too low, drinking water can actually start to corrode your teeth. Even beverages like carbonated, sparkling water and drinks that add flavoring can push the acidity level to the danger zone. That can end up creating some long-term damage to your pearly whites! In those cases, paying attention to pH is definitely cause for concern.
Being careful about the types of beverages you drink can help keep your teeth strong, and staying hydrated can help you feel good all day long. Yet, steering clear of acidic drinks doesn’t necessarily mean you need to commit to alkaline water—and especially not bottled water. For the most cost-efficient ways to hydrate, filtered water is the way to go. It ends up costing less than expensive bottled water, tastes great, and is better for your environment too. Now isn’t that refreshing?