Have you tried alkaline water or seen it in the stores? Alkaline water is water with a higher pH compared to normal drinking water or tap water of neutral 7 pH. Someone I talked to recently was drinking alkaline water. This person was thinking that alkaline water will help bring the body from an acid state that’s contributing to disruption indigestion.
Did you know that your stomach has hydrochloric acid to help break down food? Did you know a healthy byproduct of bacteria breakdown of food produces short-chain fatty acids? These are 2 examples of acidic environments that are needed in the body to help with digestion and beneficial health effects. Is alkaline water helpful or harmful to our digestive system? Currently, we do not have enough research in humans to help back up the health claims for alkaline water. However, we do have some research that I will go over in this post.
WHAT WE DO KNOW ABOUT ALKALINE WATER AND HEALTH
A study in 2012, showed that alkaline water provided a buffer that may help people with acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). This can be helpful in reducing acid backflow up the esophagus. In addition, the alkaline water inactivates pepsin. Pepsin is an enzyme in the stomach that helps with the digestion of protein. Pepsin is also needed to help with the absorption of vitamin B12.
Another study in 2017 provided a variety of views of what may help with reflux. Alkaline water pH >8.0, 90% plant-based/Mediterranean diet or drug (proton pump inhibitor/PPI). There was actually no significant difference in the beneficial effects for acid reflux of any of them! So, eating a plant-based diet or drinking alkaline water can be helpful like PPI with heartburn. If you can change your diet to help with reflux then why would you not? This would help prevent any additional side effects that the PPI might cause such as interference with digestion, decrease absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, and iron, increase risk for c.diff (bacteria infection), bone fracture, and pneumonia.
WHO MIGHT BENEFIT FROM ALKALINE WATER
As the limited research we have above reflects, those with acid reflux may benefit from alkaline water. I only recommend those who cannot tolerate regular water to try alkaline water, but with caution. Not to make alkaline water only a source of fluid and to not drink with meals if possible. The concern is how does alkaline water interferes with digestion other than decreasing some acid in the stomach, how is the disruption of protein digestion in the stomach affects further digestion and concern over possible decreasing vitamin B12. Now in healthy digestive individuals alkaline water used for 2 weeks of 2 liters a day did not have any issues on gut bacterial disruption. So, we need more research in helping answer the questions on how might alkaline water be helpful or harmful to our bodies.
TOOL FOR YOU
- BLOG POST on Reflux provides detailed information on research and diet for acid reflux/GERD.
- GUIDE: This guide was made to help get to the root cause of reflux so that you can find relief. It also includes a 2 full-day meal plan of foods that help with acid reflux.