What's the one thing that Miranda Kerr, Shay Mitchell, T-Boz and Chilli of TLC, and NBA player Jason Terry have in common? They're all fans of drinking alkaline water and swear that it does wonders to their health and wellbeing. But are there any real health benefits of drinking alkaline water in the morning, or is it all just some elaborate celebrity conspiracy to get us to buy more fancy filters and bottles of water in some sad attempt to feel rich and famous?
The first thing to understand is that alkaline water is not a complete hoax. Alkaline water is real, and in some cases, it's even naturally-occurring. As Jean Valvis, owner and founder of AQUA Carpatica, a company that sells alkaline mineral water sourced from the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, explains in an email to Extra Crispy, "Alkaline refers to the pH level or acidity in a liquid or solid. The pH scale runs from zero to 14, with 7 as the neutral mid-point." So alkaline water is basic water, meaning it’s got a pH level that’s greater than 7.
And since the word alkaline only refers to the water’s acidity—or, more accurately, lack thereof—it can occur naturally, depending on where the water comes from. The reason AQUA Carpatica is alkaline, for instance, is because it comes that way from the water source, not because it's been treated with anything or run through any special filters.
That's not true for all alkaline waters, though. Some people spend thousands of dollars on filters to turn their non-alkaline water into alkaline water. The reason why folks go through the trouble is because they believe in the possible benefits of alkaline water, which allegedly include anti-aging properties, higher levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, and even colon cleansing.
The theory behind drinking alkaline water, and the alkaline diet, more generally, is that consuming basic (and I mean that in the chemical sense) foods and drinks helps the body run more smoothly. As Valvis explains, “The alkalinity level of drinking water is important because the human body functions best when the pH level is slightly alkaline. Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular water, so some drink it in order to neutralize acidity levels and maintain proper pH."
This logic might sound good—and after all, if alkaline water is the secret to Miranda Kerr's blemish-free skin, who am I to judge? The bad news is that these claims are not fully verified by science, according to Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietician at the Mayo Clinic. "Some studies suggest that alkaline water may help slow bone loss," she writes, "but further investigation is needed to determine if this influences overall bone mineral density and if the benefit is maintained over the long term."
For the most part, your liver and kidneys are great at regulating your body's pH without the help of alkaline water. Sarah Jacoby also notes at Refinery 29 that if your blood level was really running at a level that was so acidic that drinking a bottle of alkaline water would make a difference, you would pass out first. And even Valvis admits that “alkalinity is not the only important attribute in water." You can also consider the mineral content, which affects the taste, and the water's source, if it's pure or not.
Really, as long as you’re staying hydrated with genuine water and drinking several glasses of water every single day, alkaline or not, your body will probably be A-OK.