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Alkaline and pH Balanced Water: Healthy or Not?

alkaline water, pH balanced water - health or hype

Have you seen the water labeled "pH Balanced" or "Alkaline Water"?

Some people believe these waters are healthier. While others say it's just marketing hype. What's the truth? Should you be spending the extra money for you and your family?

To answer those questions, I think it first helps to explain what is meant by these terms - alkaline or pH balanced.

The pH Scale

Chemicals aren't just the bottles under the kitchen sink or in the garage. All living matter including humans, animals, and foods consist of chemicals.

And we can describe any of these living matters by their properties. For example, we might describe a person by their hair color and height. Food and water also have describable properties.

One way to describe food is using the pH scale (picture below) which ranges from 0-14. Some foods are acidic (low pH) and others are more basic or alkaline (high pH).

Ph scale

Digestion and Metabolism

Let's follow food from when it's eaten (or drunk) to when it becomes part of our body.

On our kitchen table, the pH of the food and drink runs the gamut from acidic to alkaline. Water is generally considered more neutral because it's pH is in the middle range. And, mixing acids and alkaline foods can cancel out or neutralize their extreme effects.

Once we swallow the food, it travels into our stomach. And, check out the pH of gastric (stomach) acid in the picture above. It's very acidic - with a pH of around 1-2.

So, regardless of the pH of the food you ate, it ends up as an acidic mixture within seconds of when we eat it. 

As this nutrient-rich sludge leaves the stomach it travels down along the small intestine where the the pH rises - to about 6.0 to 7.4.

Then, shortly after, those nutrients travel into the blood stream. Human blood is closely kept at a slightly basic pH of around 7.4.

In fact, the body has mechanisms to keep it constant - including breathing and functioning kidneys. The pH in the blood fluctuates only slightly between 7.35-7.45; we would die if it fluctuated more than that. 

Alkaline Water or pH Balanced Water

Therefore, eating or drinking foods that are acidic or alkaline doesn't make our blood pH change.

While it sounds healthy to match your water to your blood's pH, it's not going to make any difference in your blood's pH. So, save your money and drink plain water. 

What about FatWater?

If you look on the shelves, you'll find a lot of specialty waters that promise to hydrate your body better. One of them is called FatWater. Is this water any healthier?

Let's look at ingredients and the claims (from a science perspective, rather than the marketing claims designed to thin your wallet, not your waist): 

  1. Purified water – whoop-dee-do! While it sounds much better than regular “water”, this is the same stuff we get in a bottle at the grocery store for about 12 cents (when purchasing a 24-pack)…water that has been mechanically filtered or processed to remove impurities. So don't be impressed with "purified water."
  2. Artificial sweeteners xylitol and stevia. While the website claims these have a “zero glycemic index”, realize that ANY zero-calorie sweetener ranks zero on the glycemic scale. That includes saccharine and aspartame. So, again, don't get taken by claims of "zero glycemic index."
  3. B vitamins. The website claims that, “B vitamins support our body’s energy production and normal function of the nervous system.” Sure, any nutrition textbook will tell you that’s the function of B vitamins. But, don’t get sucked into thinking that if you take MORE B vitamins than you need you’ll have MORE energy. It doesn’t work that way. The reason why many of us don’t have energy, is not because of a deficiency of B-vitamins (that’s rare). If you’re really worried about not getting enough B vitamins in your diet, skip the expensive sprinkle that's found in these waters. Opt instead for a wide spectrum of nutrients from a 100% multi vitamin/mineral supplement for just pennies!
  4. Medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil. The information from the product website claims that these fats are “easily and quickly absorbed and do not need enzymes and bile to make them absorbable” and that they are “absorbed in the small intestine into the portal vein” and “travel to the liver”. Does that impress you? It shouldn’t. That’s the way ALL medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are absorbed. In fact, MCT have been used for decades in the treatment of fat malabsorption. But, it's unlikely that YOU have a malabsorption problem. It's quite rare. And, if you did, you’d be suffering from severe diarrhea and weight loss - not weight gain. Most people have no problems using our naturally produced enzymes and bile to absorb fats. 

In other words, all those claims are marketing hogwash. Save your money. And, drink plain water. 

Energy From Water?

Finally, let’s talk about this elusive thing called “energy”. Energy is defined as the “ability to do work.”

For humans, energy is needed to keep our brain, muscles, liver, and every other part of our body working…keeping us alive and functioning properly.

Therefore, energy comes from food and drink that have calories. (Look it up: “calories” are simply a measurement of energy).

The drink has just 20 calories worth of fat. But, let's face it, if you're not feeling energized, it's unlikely you need MORE calories since 2/3 of all adults are overweight or obese.

If you're feeling energized, continue to read my blogs to find out why. There are many reasons including being dehydrated (which only requires water...not any expensive specialty fluid) or not getting adequate sleep.

So, will FATwater make you feel more energetic? Fat chance!

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