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  • Jen Isabel Friend

Why I Don't Drink Alkaline Ionised Water

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

What’s up with alkaline water? I get this question ALL THE TIME. Everyone wants to know about these alkalizing ionizers and the supposedly healing water they produce Alkaline water is so trendy, it seems like everyone and their woke cousin is hopping on this fad with some fancy machine or another. Well I’m here to burst some bubbles. Because alkaline water can either be beneficial or not – depending on what makes it alkaline. So, first we’ll talk about the difference between natural alkaline water vs. what’s coming out of these filter machines. Then we’ll take a look at some of the claims as to alkalized ionized water’s ability to neutralize acids and combat free radicals. And then, you’ll have a jumping off point to do your own research and make your own informed decisions.

So usually alkaline water from one of these machines, or in water bottles from the store, is just reverse osmosis tap water that has then been alkalized through an electrolysis process. 

Now most people do suffer from acidosis just due to our diet and lifestyle and inflammation. Most bodies are pretty acidic. So it’s good to get towards the alkaline side of the spectrum, for sure, for healing. But only temporarily. Because alkalosis is just as dangerous as acidosis and once you’ve healed any ailments that might be created or exacerbated by acidosis, you want to maintain a fairly neutral pH. 

In nature, water is fairly neutral or even just slightly acidic. The only extremely highly alkaline water anywhere in nature is alkaline because of the ionic minerals it contains. NOT because it’s been electrocuted to separate the hydrogen, as is the case with these machines. Remember, what we do to our water, we do to ourselves. So electrocuting your water is probably not a good idea. We did not adapt over the millennia to drink that, so I would be wary of it. 

Your blood is meant to be very neutral. And depending on what your blood type is, if you have blood type O for example, it’s even just slightly acidic. So if you expose your body to these really harsh and overly alkalizing waters over the long term, it can have a really damaging effects. For one thing, you need hydrochloric acid and acidophilus for healthy functioning digestion. Acidophilus in Latin literally means “acid loving bacteria”. Certain parts of your body should be acidic to stay healthy. And certain strains of unhealthy bacteria and parasites actually thrive in a gut that is too alkaline. H Pilori, for example, is relatively common among people whose body chemistry is overly alkaline from too much time drinking this kind of water. And I spoke with a naturopath who does live blood analysis under a dark field microscope in Santa Fe. When she sees people who have been drinking alkaline water for too long, they actually have a preponderance of ruptured cells. You can see how their cells have kind of exploded in the bloodstream. Because the body has to work REALLY hard to keep the blood neutral when the water you drink is highly alkaline. Remember, the water you drink becomes your blood within 5 minutes. So the body has to neutralize alkaline water really quickly and effectively. And after years of drinking this unnatural water, it becomes harder for the body to adapt, and cells can begin to rupture.

Consider this: There are two ways to make alkaline water - you can make it easily at home just by adding some baking soda, sodium bicarbonate. Or via one of these electrolysis machines. These ionizers produce unnaturally alkaline water by electrocuting the water molecule to split it in half, separating the hydrogen from the oxygen. The second method produces alkalized ionized water that contains hydrogen gas. Interestingly, one doesn’t receive the same benefits from drinking baking soda water that one will receive from drinking electrically alkalized water. Why? Because the second contains so much more hydrogen! You can receive the same benefits by selectively incorporating hydrogen peroxide supplementation, or using molecular hydrogen tablets in your water When you remove the hydrogen gas from alkalized water, the health benefits are eliminated as well. And the amount of hydrogen that one of these machines can produce is entirely dependent upon the TDS (total dissolved solids) in the source water. The tap water going into the filter has to have a TDS of at least 100ppm to facilitate enough hydrogen in the final water for it to have any beneficial effect.

Even the president of the Korean Water Society, who conducted a number of studies showing the effectiveness of alkaline water against things like diabetes and cancer, also showed that when the hydrogen gas was removed, the water was no longer healing. So it’e really not the Ph that is healing, it’s the hydrogen. And Dr. Hidemitsu Hayashi, a cardiac surgeon and Director of the Water Institute in Japan, ALSO determined that the benefits of alkaline ionized water were due to hydrogen in the water. He had been one of the most pioneering researchers and proponents of alkalizing ionizer machines decades ago, but eventually he abandoned it water and devoted his efforts towards hydrogen rich water instead.

So let's have a look at what acids and bases are. Because there’s actually a difference between alkaline and alkalinity, between acidic and acidity. Looking at the pH scale, you might figure anything with an alkaline pH would neutralize acids in the body. But if that were the case, then eating overcooked meat would lower acidity. Obviously it doesn't. Cooked meat is super alkaline, but actually makes more acidity in body tissue. And a lemon—one of the most acidic fruits—is famous for its alkalizing effects. Likewise, adding alkaline minerals to water, like calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium etc. raises the pH of the water, but doesn't neutralize acids in the body. Why?

Because only buffers neutralize acids. For example, if you add a weak acid to a glass of water with a pH of 8 that has no buffering capacity, the pH will immediately drop—just as you’d expect. But, if you add the same amount of acid to a glass of buffered water, the pH will barely change. A buffer neutralizes the acid, leaving the solution’s pH unchanged. Buffers are what contribute to what’s called “ alkalinity" which is defined as the ability to neutralize acids. Kind of confusing because alkalinity, the ability to neutralize acids is actually different from the term alkaline which only refers to pH. So not everything that is alkaline, actually has alkalinity. Again, that depends on the presence or absence of buffers.  In water and in the human body, buffers are predominantly bicarbonates. They neutralize acids by scavenging hydrogen ions (H+).

Often people will use urine tests to see what their body’s Ph is. But that’s not an accurate reading at all. Urine is a measure of what the body is releasing. So higher urine pH could also just mean the body is having to get rid of excess alkaline minerals that aren't in a form it can use.

A lot of people think pure water has a pH of 7. This is another misconception. Pure water (water without anything in it) can only have a pH of 7 in a vacuum. Because pure H2O is hungry. It immediately absorbs CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere to form carbonic acid. The resulting water becomes slightly acidic in Ph, but its acidity (opposite of alkalinity) is weak. So Acidic refers to its Ph, but acidity means its ability to neutralize alkaline. Stick with the etymology here, cause it’ll all make sense in a second. So the this pure H2O with a little carbonic acid is too weak to have an acidifying affect on the body. So, just because water has a pH below 7 does not necessarily mean that it is bad water. Tons of natural springs and rivers have a healthy (buffered) pH that is slightly below 7. This actually helps the water to hold more minerals.

Okay so another way to make water alkaline is by adding minerals. Alkaline minerals alone (without a buffer) don't neutralize acids and they aren’t very bioavailable. This is one reason adding alkaline minerals to water can sometimes do more harm than good. Because they’re not easily absorbed, and they can end up as plaque, deposits in joints, and acidic waste. But, when combined with bicarbonates, the same minerals become a part of a buffering system that neutralizes acids and makes the minerals in a more absorbable. Then the body can use or excrete them without harm.

The ocean, for example, is a highly buffered solution. It is loaded with bicarbonates and fulvic acids. This is how the ocean digests acidic wastes from all the biological life that lives within her, without damaging the water or its inhabitants. 

Okay so let’s return again to the topic of these ionizing machines. Do they create buffered water? Heck no. So the water isn’t even capable of neutralizing acids in the body as the companies claim. And any alkaline minerals that were in the source water end up as hydroxides attached to the OH- ion. The body doesn’t recognize these compounds. So if your kidneys are functioning well, you will just pee them out. But if not, they could end up as arterial plaque or as mineral deposits in joints and tissues.

Another claim is that the water from these machines is structured. They say it mimics nature and creates crystalline water, because nature creates coherent liquid crystalline water using movement and weak electromagnetic fields. And those who sell ionizers think that the strong electric current used during ionization produces coherent liquid crystalline water. Sorry not sorry, but it does not. The electric current DOES cause water molecules to align in the direction of the electric current, the overall degree of structure in the water is reduced. The resulting water is actually aggressive and imbalanced, just like you would expect any organism to be if it had been electrocuted. 

If you’ve watched any of my videos or read any of my articles, or done any independent research into water AT ALL,  you know that water crystallography is all about the strength of those hydrogen bonds. And the whole process of electrolysis breaks apart those hydrogen bonds, separating the hydrogen. So, by definition, it couldn’t possibly be structuring the water! It literally rips the structure apart as it separates the molecules! Dr. Marcel Vogel, one of the most renown and prolific water crystallography scientists, had this to say about it: "Ionization of the water can occur through structuring the water…or by electrical ionization… When the water is electrically ionized…the existing bonds in the water are torn apart… This process of ionization…creates water with an electrical charge, but with no structural charge. It does not have the structural information.” And Dr. Carly Nuday talks a bit about this in her book as well.

In other words, structured water may have a negative charge. And alkalized ionized water may have a negative charge. But this does not mean that the ionized water is structured. Make sense?

Now let’s look at another claim these companies make. We’re diving deep here, cause this stuff is important - people are touting this water as some miracle cure from nature, when it’s just another human fabrication that falls far short of nature’s brilliance. So another claim they make is that the water has strong electron potential that neutralizes free radicals. And yes, it’s true, alkaline ionized water has a strong electrical potential, you can tell by measuring its ORP or oxidative reductive potential, and alkaline water as a very negative ORP. BUT the rH2 value, or hydrogen potential is a way more accurate representation of electron potential than just ORP alone. Water with suer negative ORP is out of balance for the human body, just like most extremes. It might initially help reduce free radicals, but continued consumption and the aggressive neutralization of oxygen radicals upsets cellular redox balance in the body, and that is crucial to immune function and metabolic homeostasis. After all, the ORP of most fresh fruits and vegetables is slightly positive! And we know those to be very antioxidant regardless.

Because oxygen radicals serve as signaling molecules. And the total absence of oxygen radicals is just as harmful as their overabundance. So drinking ionized alkalized water for the long term can have some metabolic consequences that go beyond the scope of simplistic and extremist thinking. The chemistry of life, in nature as well as in our bodies, depends on a balance between acids and bases. Without the presence of some acidic compounds, alkaline ionized water is imbalanced. And the body thrives in balance, not in extremes.

And there have been three separate studies showing that drinking alkaline ionized water in the long term water could cause cell death (necrosis), fibrosis, and other complications in heart muscles in rats: Study #1  Study #2  Study #3

There are also concerns over these machines’ inability to remove heavy metals from the water, and their potential to create hydrogen isotopes called Deuterium, depending on what their cathodes are made of. But we won’t go into all that today. Suffice it to say, there are better options available.

I just encourage everyone to do their own research. Look for long-term human studies of alkaline water, not just the short term ones that are easy to find, or the ones that are published by the companies selling the machines. And if someone is trying to convince you that alkaline water is the best, notice whether or not they have a vested interest in you believing that. Would they benefit from you getting a filter? Regardless they are not terrible machines. And you can get one of those filters and select what pH you like from the entire spectrum. So you could still use a Kangen filter or similar and get relatively neutral pH water, like a 7, you don’t have to go with 10, and just use it as a tap liquid filter, if you absolutely have to use tap liquid for some reason. 

But there are a lot of people who are pretty dogmatic in their obsession with these machines. So, I know this video might get some backlash from anyone whose loyalties are more aligned with company rhetoric than with objective science. And that’s okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m not throwing shade. I totally celebrate the people who have experienced healing effects from drinking this kind of water because of its high hydrogen content. And I know how seductively convincing network marketing companies and communities can be, and I know that most of the people involved have the best of intentions. They really love water, or really love health and that’s beautiful! They really want to help people, and that’s really what it’s all about. And in the short term, the water really can help people, and that’s amazing. But as with everything, it’s good to try to align yourself more closely with nature and less with machines. More with water and less with corporations. More with the earth and less with surrogate stand-ins. Don’t take it from me. Do your own third-party research and your own experiments, ask your own body, check in with your internal GPS and see how you feel.

It’s nuanced, and each person has the sovereignty to decide how their thirst is quenched. Because, as you can see, not all water is created equal, and what you drink you become. So to learn more about various kinds of water and how they affect us differently, you can check out this mini course I’ve created that will guide you through the weird world of water from tap, to bottle, to reverse osmosis and more. Our bodies are 70% water by volume, and molecularly we are 99.92% water molecules so let's make more empowered choices about how we hydrate.

I hope you’ve learned something today. If so, please like, comment, share and subscribe!


8. YAN, H., KASHIWAKI, T., HAMASAKI, T., KINJO, T., TERUYA, K., KABAYAMA, S. & SHIRAHATA, S. (2011). The neuroprotective effects of electrolyzed reduced water and its model water containing molecular hydrogen and Pt nanoparticles. BMC Proc 5 Suppl 8, P69.

9. KIKUCHI, K., TAKEDA, H., RABOLT, B., OKAYA, T., OGUMI, Z., SAIHARA, Y. & NOGUCHI, H. (2001). Hydrogen particles and supersaturation in alkaline water from an Alkali-Ion-Water electrolyzer. Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry 506, 22-27.

11. Alkalinity and pH Relationships. By James McDonald, PE, CWT

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