The pH Balance of Water: Myths vs Facts

It is a known fact that water makes up 60% of our body. Doctors have determined that drinking at least 3 litres of water a day is essential for the proper functioning of many processes in our body. There has been an ongoing conversation on what makes water healthy, like the composition of minerals and microelements. But did you know that water’s pH balance also contributes to its potential health benefits? In this article, we break down important facts about the pH balance of water, and what it means for your health.

What is a pH balance, and how does it relate to water?

pH is a scale used to determine the concentration of hydrogen ions in a liquid. The scale is used to measure how acidic water is in relation to water. A low pH balance makes water acidic, while a high pH balance makes it alkaline. Normal and safe drinking water, for instance, has a pH of 7 and is considered “neutral” because it has neither acidic nor basic qualities. On the other hand, alkaline water has a higher pH that goes up to 8.5 or 9 – a considered safe scale. To illustrate other examples, coffee has a pH of 5 and vinegar – has about 2.

Health Benefits: Do They Really Exist?

So, how does the pH level influence water quality? And are there proven benefits to our health? Well, there are some myths and facts to keep in mind. Some of the most popular claims coming from alkaline water enthusiasts or marketers have little scientific evidence. For example, there is no evidence that alkaline water can change the pH balance of your body or blood or help cure diseases like cancer. There is also a lack of research that proves its alleged pro-ageing properties.

However, some clinical studies suggest that water with higher pH levels may benefit people with certain gastrointestinal conditions.

According to a 2012 study published in the National Library of Medicine, “the consumption of alkaline water may have therapeutic benefits for patients with reflux disease.” The study concluded that a pH of 8.8  alkaline water inactivates pepsin – an enzyme that damages the protective mucus layer in oesophagus tissue and causes heartburn. The study also suggests that alkaline water has a good acid-buffering capacity, which could potentially help relieve heartburn symptoms for people with chronic reflux issues.

In addition, another clinical study suggests potential health benefits to people with irritable bowel disease, especially those with diarrhoea symptoms. According to a study conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in South Korea, patients who consumed water with a pH of 8.5 and higher reported relief of IBS and diarrhoea symptoms after eight weeks of consumption.

Alkaline water is considered safe to drink, and there are no side effects associated with it. However, doctors recommend going for artisan water sourced from natural springs against artificially ionised water.  

How to find out the pH balance in your water?

An easy way to measure pH level in drinking water is to conduct a small at-home test with a pH testing kit. Just dip a piece of litmus paper from the testing kit into a glass of water and wait for it to change colour. As a result, the tint of the paper will roughly estimate the pH of water.

Importantly, water with very low or high pH levels can indicate heavy metal contamination. Some water safety regulators, such as EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.), recommend that the pH of tap water is supposed to fall between 6.5 and 8, but, in reality, due to pollution and water contamination in some regions around the globe, it may fall below 5. In this case, switching to bottled water will be a necessary option for your health.

While small studies are worth considering, more substantial research is needed to explore the full potential of alkaline water and its benefits to our health in the long run. However, the pH level of your drinking water is still an indicator of its safety, and it’s worth testing it on your own. In addition, when choosing your water, don’t forget about other factors, such as the composition of minerals and microelements. Finally, if you suffer from complex gastrointestinal health conditions, always consult with a physician for a proper treatment plan and amendments to your diet.

Author of the publication

Polina Kuznetsova
Polina Kuznetsova
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