This is a trend we can probably just sit out.
Credit: Credit: Elenaleonova

You already know that drinking enough water each day is essential. (Need to drink more? Here are 9 easy ways to do it).

But what about this whole alkaline water hype? Promoters are making heavy claims about how it’ll boost your immune system, fight cancer, and even cure psoriasis. So is it legit? Is it harmful? And what does “alkaline” even mean?     

Alkaline water is water that has been ionized to give it a less acidic pH balance. Let’s take a brief chemistry refresher: The lower the pH, the more acidic something is (hello, lemon juice and vinegar). The higher the pH, the more “alkaline” it is—(we’re looking at you, baking soda). When something is too acidic, combining it with an alkaline substance tends to raise the pH and balance things out. This is why milk of magnesia (which is alkaline) is good at calming indigestion (caused by stomach acid).



The premise behind drinking alkaline water is that it will aid the body in becoming “more balanced.” But do you really need this? Cooking Light's Food and Nutrition Director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, says no. “Your body naturally regulates itself,” she says. “Your kidneys and lungs help maintain a very set pH for your body.”

This is why people that tend to consume acidic foods (which is what a lot of highly processed junk food is) still usually have a balanced pH. However, eating heavy amounts of acidic food does affect the body over the long term. For instance, it can stress out your kidneys (which remove waste) and result in kidney stones.

But there is no conclusive evidence that drinking alkaline water affects your body’s pH in any meaningful way. The key word there, however, is “conclusive.” There have been some studies that suggest alkaline water may help decrease your risk of osteoporosis, and have other long-term health effects. Still, you’ll likely get much more bang for your buck by simply eating fresh, whole foods, and cutting out a lot of the acidic junk food in the first place.