Science or snake oil? Alkaline water is a popular beverage that fetches as much as $5 a bottle in stores. Health-conscious consumers have tried it for themselves and experienced amazing benefits. But if you search the web you will find websites such as Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid that dismiss it as a hoax. Furthermore, they dismiss the health benefits as a placebo effect.
Update: Brian Dunning, the skeptic in this article has been arrested and charged with defrauding eBay of millions of dollars!
What is ionized water?
Tap water, well water and spring water aren’t pure water. They contains minerals and other substances. What a water by a water ionizer does is change the composition of the minerals in tap water. Water ionizers convert the mineral carbonates in water into mineral hydroxides. These mineral hydroxides give alkaline ionized water properties that make it different from tap water.
Skeptics say there’s no such thing as microclustered water, they’re right
Water molecules can’t be microclustered. They don’t cluster together in groups. Microclustering is a sales fiction made up by Enagic Corporation. Skeptics call microclustering pseudoscience, and they’re right.
When a water ionizer makes alkaline ionized water the mineral carbonate compounds in water are separated by the process of electrodialysis. The alkaline minerals in the water become mineral hydrates. Those hydrate minerals are what makes the water better than plain water.
There are studies that prove the skeptics wrong Skeptics dismiss health claims made about alkaline ionized water by claiming that there aren’t any studies. But there are over 40 clinical studies mostly from Japan and Korea. In addition, studies done in the United States that have documented health benefits such as:
- You can raise blood pH
- It can improve digestive health
- There is a positive link between alkaline water and bone health
- Better hydration
- Weight loss
- Detoxification from heavy metals
Most noteworthy: Since there aren’t enough studies documenting the benefits of alkaline water. More research needs to be done, and all of these studies need to be confirmed by additional research. Skeptics are correct in pointing out that some claims made for alkaline water need more clinical research.
Facts that back up Alkaline Water for Health
According to the Mayo Clinic: Katherine Zeratsky, nutritionist for the Mayo Clinic discussed some of the research showing a beneficial link between alkaline water and bone health. She stated that there is a definite link between alkaline water and bone health. She cautions that that further research is needed to confirm those benefits for long term bone health.
The studies that Zeratsky quoted in her article showed that alkaline water helps prevent bone loss by lowering two markers of bone loss. Those bone loss markers are thyroid hormones. When your blood pH drops your thyroid releases those hormones. They tell your bones to release calcium. Lower levels of those thyroid hormone markers mean that you’re losing less bone.
Alkaline water clinical studies conducted in Japan lead to ionizers being certified as medical devices. Doctors in Japan actually prescribe alkaline water for digestive upset!
What about other health claims? Because so much of the research on the benefits of alkaline water is preliminary, more research is needed. Furthermore, alkaline water ionizers have only been in existence for about 60 years. In conclusion, clinical studies of alkaline water would take many decades to complete and be very expensive.
US FDA Review of Alkaline Water?
Skeptics often point out the FDA hasn’t reviewed alkaline water for health purposes. The high cost of FDA medical review is the reason for this. For the FDA to approve a new drug or medical device it takes decades. Additionally, that research costs over a billion dollars. Drug companies can’t patent ionized alkaline mineral water. As a result they have no incentive to study it