Alkaline water has become increasingly popular as health-conscious consumers tried it for themselves and experienced its benefits firsthand. But if you search the web, you will also find websites such as Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid that dismiss alkaline water as a hoax, or “snake oil on tap”. So which side is right?
Could Alkaline Water Skeptics be Right?
Pure water can’t be ionized, hence there is no such thing (in chemistry) as ionized water. But tap water, well water and spring water aren’t pure! They contains minerals. What get’s ionized in water by a water ionizer are the minerals in the water. Water ionizers concentrate the minerals in water; charge them with antioxidant potential; and makes the water more hydrating than regular water.
Skeptics contest the definition that water molecules can be microclustered. What is actually happening is that the mineral compounds in water are chemically-restructured by the process of electrolysis. They become mineral hydrates. This is what makes alkaline mineral water hydrate better than plain water!
Many skeptics dismiss health claims made about alkaline water by claiming that there aren’t any studies. That is totally false! There are several clinical studies from Japan and Korea, as well as the United States that have documented alkaline water health benefits such as:
- Alkaline water can improve digestive health
- There is a positive link between alkaline water and bone health
- Alkaline water hydrates better than plain water
A more accurate point of view is that there aren’t enough studies. Additional research on ionized alkaline mineral water is clearly needed. Skeptics are correct in pointing out that some of the health claims made for alkaline water need more clinical research.
Why Alkaline Water Health Advocates may be right
There is plenty of research to back up legitimate health claims that can be made about alkaline water. Katherine Zeratsky, nutritionist for the Mayo Clinic stated that there is research that shows a beneficial link between alkaline water and bone health, and that further research could confirm these benefits for long term health.
The studies that Zeratsky quoted showed that alkaline water lowered two markers of bone loss. High levels of bone loss markers associated with osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Alkaline water clinical studies conducted in Japan lead to the Japanese Ministry of Health certifying alkaline water ionizers as medical devices. In Japan, doctors actually prescribe alkaline water for digestive upset!
What about other health claims? Much of the research on other potential health benefits of alkaline water is preliminary. This means that those studies can be confirmed by further research. Alkaline water ionizers designed to make drinking water have only been in existence for about 60 years. Clinical studies to confirm the benefits of alkaline water take decades to complete. The research that has been done on alkaline water shows promise, and more studies would be beneficial.
US FDA Review of Alkaline Water?
Skeptics often point out the FDA hasn’t reviewed alkaline water for health purposes. The reason for this is the cost of FDA medical review. It takes decades and costs over a billion dollars for the FDA to approve a new drug or medical device. Since drug companies can’t patent ionized alkaline mineral water, there is no effort at all by the drug companies to do this.
Water ionizers have been approved for use as medical devices in Korea by the Korean FDA and in Japan by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Doctors in those countries prescribe alkaline water for some health problems.
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