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post : Alkaline Angst

Alkaline Angst

By Dr. Jerry Mixon July 14, 2008

Alkalinity is the next piece of pseudo-scientific silliness that frequently comes up when people talk about water.

What is the proper PH of your water? I’ve seen a ton of folks telling people how important it is that their water be alkaline. The reasoning here is that the PH of your body is generally alkaline (which is true and also a fancy way of saying your blood is salty), thus your water should match the PH of your body. Sadly, that oversimplifies the situation somewhat.

Before we tackle this one we need to establish exactly what is meant by “alkaline” and what exactly is “PH”. Most folks will tell you that PH is a measure of how acidic something is. They then conclude that since alkaline is the opposite of acidic, alkaline is good and acidic is bad. This view however has a few inaccuracies. First off, PH doesn’t measure acidity; rather, it measures how far it is from distilled water. The PH scale goes up to 14 with distilled water smack in the center at 7. What you have below 7 is acidic; what you have above 7 is alkaline.

So far so good. The next inaccuracy is the notion that acid is bad and alkaline is good. Certainly acid from the low end of the PH scale will melt your face but so will an alkaline solution from the top of the scale.

Just so no one gets confused on this point, 7 is safe. Any movement in either direction is a movement towards face-melting extremes. Now your body’s internal PH hovers just on the alkaline side. Before you take that as a sign to start looking for ways to raise the PH of your water, keep in mind a couple of facts.

First and foremost, your body has remarkable mechanisms to regulate its own internal PH. These mechanisms are driven far more by your nutrition than by your water. Secondly when water encounters carbon dioxide in the air it tends to form carbonic acid, dropping the PH of the water ever so slightly. Since a decent percentage of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, it’s a pretty safe bet that most of the water humans have drunk from the beginning of time has been on the acidic side of the scale. The exception here is salt water. Sodium is an alkaline metal; when added to water will tend to move it to the alkaline side of the scale. So if you really feel the need for alkaline water, I would recommend a pinch of salt rather than an expensive device.

Last but not least, I feel compelled to point out another key point. While great importance is attached to the alkaline nature of your blood, it is important not to ignore the exceedingly low PH of your tummy, typically hovering around a face-melting, caustic, PH 2. Your PH 8 alkaline water will be thoroughly acidic by the time your tummy is done with it and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Your tummy is designed to be acidic and your body expects what it offers to be drenched in acid.

In fact, drinking water of sufficient alkalinity to raise the PH in your stomach by any appreciable degree for any extended period of time is dangerous. The results are well documented and unpleasant. First you will stop digesting and you will not be able to derive nutrients from your food. Next the food in your stomach will begin to putrefy. Finally opportunistic bacteria, which normally would have had their faces melted by your stomach acid, will begin to take up residence in your stomach, infecting and ultimately ulcerating your stomach lining.

Then once you’ve noticed the painful cramping, gassy bloating, and nausea brought on by the rotting food in your gut, you’ll likely come to a doctor like me who will have you stop drinking the alkaline water, give you some antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prescribe capsules of acid you’ll have to swallow to restore the acidic PH you never should have tampered with in the first place.

Once again, it’s time to face the hard reality people: water is good stuff, amazing stuff in terms of life science, but not magic. Nothing you do to water is going to make you suddenly healthy, full of energy, or cure your cancer. The best you can do to your water with regard to your health is to clean it. At least if your water is clean, you’re not adding insult to the injuries that time and gravity inflict on us all. Anyone who tells you their water will reverse the damages of time and gravity is trying to rob you, period.


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