If you have recently heard about the great health benefits of drinking alkaline water, then you have probably done some research on the internet and found some conflicting information – some sources say it’s great, others says it’s dangerous, and some say it doesn’t do anything at all. So what is the truth? The truth is…many people confuse alkaline water with ionized alkaline water. You might be thinking… “there are two different types of alkaline water?” YES, and there is a huge difference! So, if you are confused by the other information you have read about alkaline water, or, this is the first article you have read on the subject, then you have come to the right place! What is ionized alkaline water and why is it different than alkaline water? Below I will answer this question and many more on the topic.
pH Levels: Acidic vs. Alkaline
pH stands for potential hydrogen and the pH level of any solution is measured by its hydrogen-ion concentration. The pH spectrum is a scale of 0-14; if something has a pH reading of 7.0, it is considered neutral, while anything above 7.0 is an alkaline and anything below 7.0 is acidic. In other words, the higher the pH reading, the more alkaline and oxygen rich the fluid is, and the latter is true for lower pH readings.
The pH level of human blood is slightly above neutral (around 7.30-7.45). If there is an imbalance in your body’s pH level it can lead to serious health concerns including: bladder/kidney issues, acceleration of free radical damage, arthritis, low energy, tumor growth, digestive issues, cardiovascular issues, and hormone issues. And while, these are all internal issues, there are several external signs that can indicate one’s body is too acidic including: unexplained rashes, acne, dark circles under the eyes, cracked skin, brittle hair, and excess weight. This is where ionized alkaline water comes in. Drinking ionized alkaline water can help naturally restore your body to optimal health, allowing the body’s natural defense mechanisms to function properly and fight off illness and disease.
What is the difference between ionized alkaline water and alkaline water?
Everyone can agree that drinking an adequate amount of water on a daily basis is vital to maintaining good health. On the contrary, not everyone is aware of the health benefits of drinking ionized alkaline water on a daily basis. Before I talk about anything else I want to address the common misconception that alkaline water is the same as ionized alkaline water and why this is huge issue.
All water (i.e. tap or bottled) can be alkalized (have the pH level increased to over 7.0) by adding baking soda, minerals, or other chemicals to it. In addition to that, ionized alkaline water (also known as electrolyzed reduced water, reduced water, or ionized water) is created via a water electrolysis process and it also rich in antioxidants.
When people read positive things about alkaline water and confuse it with ionized alkaline water they expose themselves to potential dangers and health risks. It is true that adding baking soda and other chemicals to water does raise its pH level (making it alkaline), but that is not where the health benefits come from. In reality, consuming too much baking soda can be harmful, often leading to kidney stones, or other serious conditions such as: metabolic alkalosis, heart failure, hypertension, hypervolemia, hypernatremia, milk-alkali syndrome, and kidney failure.
Ionized alkaline water is created in the electrolysis chamber of a water ionizer machine. First invented in the early 1900s by the Russians, water ionizers started to gain popularity in the 1950s when Japan started to develop the technology. To this day, water ionizers are common household appliances in Asian countries, where natural medicine and treatments are more widely accepted as opposed to western medicine. A water ionizer creates water that contains alkaline mineral ions and hydroxyl ions. And, it’s the hydroxyl ions that have antioxidant potential (in contrast to plain alkaline water that contains alkaline mineral ions and carbonate ions, which do not have antioxidant potential). In addition, it has a negative Oxidation Reduction Potential (-ORP) value, enabling it to donate extra electrons to neutralize free radicals (other types of water have +ORP and do not have extra electrons to donate). Most who have knowledge of the benefit of alkaline water think it’s the water’s pH level that is responsible for the health benefits, however, it’s because of the –ORP.
A high –ORP is what acts as an antioxidant inside the body, allowing the water to reduce free radicals and protect against oxidative damage (aka oxidative stress). Water that is ionized through an electrolysis process is the only water that allows you to take advantage of such health benefits. In addition to being antioxidant rich, ionized water has smaller water clusters (only four compared to the twenty in tap water), allowing them to permeate your cells easier and increasing hydration.
Water Electrolysis: The Science Behind Ionized Water
Water electrolysis creates ionized alkaline water by using an electromagnetic field to manipulate the water molecule and incorporate the beneficial properties found in ionized water. The source water (i.e. tap water from your sink), is processed through an ionizer, where the alkaline and acidic minerals are separated into two components, thus creating both ionized alkaline water and ionized acidic water. Although all water ionizers produce these two different water streams, they may perform differently from location to location. This is because the mineral content of water varies, some areas have soft water, some have hard, and these differences cause the ionizer machine to perform to different capacities (soft water, with its low mineral content will not yield as great a result as hard water).
Bottled Alkaline Water – NOT the Same as Water Fresh from an Ionizer
With the rising popularity of alkaline water in the states, it is now available in bottled form. However, bottled alkaline water does not have the same antioxidant potential as water that comes straight from an ionizer. Ionized water is meant to be consumed right away – it cannot be bottled because the water molecules that have been separated through electrolysis (and, thus rendered unstable), will slowly return to a stable state. How quickly you ask? The hydroxyl ions (antioxidant properties) will dissipate within 18-24 hours, while the pH properties will return to a neutral level of 7 within 1-2 weeks, and the smaller molecule clusters will last approximately 1-3 months. Furthermore, bottled alkaline water may be prone to chemical contamination. Traces of BPA, phthalates, and antimony (a heavy metal and known carcinogen) have all been found in bottled water, but alkaline water has been known to draw antimony out of plastic, contaminating the water even more than a bottle of plain water.
Health Benefits of Drinking Ionized Alkaline Water
Multiple studies have been conducted to measure the benefits of consuming ionized alkaline water. One study, which can be found here concluded that consuming it can extend lifespan 11% to 41%.
IT IS A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT.
Ionized alkaline water is a powerful antioxidant and is great at neutralizing free radicals (uncharged molecules that have an unpaired valence electron). Free radicals, which are known for being destructive to our bodies, are neutralized when they receive an extra electron from the antioxidant. We know that, over time, free radicals inside the body damages cells, which can lead to genetic mutations and cancer. Also, individuals who get overexposure from the sun experience elevated levels of oxidative stress (thus, increasing the free radical load) and can lead to skin cancer. Furthermore, when the body utilizes energy from certain foods (processed foods and processed fats), free radicals are created. The hydroxyl ions (oxygen molecules with an extra electron) in ionized alkaline water donate their electrons to free radicals, you are left with lots of oxygen. These oxygen molecules assist in giving the body more energy! In addition, research suggests that these great antioxidant properties are also great for relieving alcohol induced hangovers (alcohol consumption increases oxidative stress, but ionized alkaline water reduces this, leading to a faster recovery from drinking alcohol).
IT BALANCES THE BODY’S pH LEVEL.
This is something we have already covered in great detail, but as one of the major health benefits of drinking ionized alkaline water, I will briefly mention it again. In society today, our diet tends to be extremely acidic with all of the sodas, fast foods, and processed foods we consume. Over time, the acid waste from this unhealthy diet can lead to an unbalanced pH level in our body, which can lead to sickness and disease. By drinking this water, it flushes the acid waste from our system, restoring the alkaline pH level to our body. And as a preventative measure, continuing to drink it will maintain a healthy, alkaline pH level.
IT HAS SMALLER WATER MOLECULES.
The molecules of ionized alkaline water are smaller than conventional water. The cluster size is a hexagonal shape comprised of about 4-6 water molecules, compared to conventional water molecules that are irregular shaped and have 11-15 water molecules. This smaller hexagonal formation is able to permeate the cell walls easier, making it more hydrating and detoxifying.
Does Ionized Alkaline Water Taste Different Than Other Water?
Those who drink, or have tasted ionized water agree that it tastes smoother than plain water, whether from a bottle, filtered, or straight from the tap. This is because of the size of the water clusters. Because the electrolysis breaks the molecules down from to about ¼ of the size (from fifteen down to four), it naturally makes the water taste smoother. Alkaline water is also great for making coffee or tea, and as well as for cooking because it helps to hydrate the food and bring out the flavor more.
Does Ionized Alkaline Water Have any Negative Effects?
In short, no. But, when you first start to drink it, you might experience a few side effects including: headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. Also, you may be more flatulent that normal. These are all signs of detoxification happening! Because the micro-clustered water molecules are able to more easily permeate your cells, they work to expel the acid waste and toxins that have accumulate in your body. These side effects will subside, anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks, depending on the individual and the detoxing that needs to be done.
NEVER DRINK THE ACIDIC WATER (because an ionizer produces both ionized alkaline and acidic water). The acidic water is great for EXTERNAL use – it can be used as an astringent for your skin, or even to wash any pesticides off your fruit)
How Much and When Do I Drink Ionized Alkaline Water?
Start by drinking 1-2 glasses at Level 1 (8.5 pH) per day for the first week. From there, you can move up to 3-4 glasses a day at Level 2 (9.0 pH) for the second week, and Level 3 (9.5 pH) on the third week. Thereafter, it is advised to stay on Level 3, and gradually increase you water intake to 8 glasses a day. **PLEASE NOTE: Elderly people should do the same adaptation process, but slower (staying on each level for 2 weeks). Children under 3 should NOT drink ionized alkaline water. Children ages 4-12 should only drink water at Level 1 or Level 2.
It is recommended you have your first glass right when you wake up and then throughout the day.
**DO NOT DRINK IONIZED WATER 30 MINUTES BEFORE AND UP TO 90 MINUTES AFTER MEALS (our stomach needs to be acidic to digest food) AND DO NOT DRINK IT 30 MINUTES BEFORE AND UP TO 120 MINUTES AFTER TAKING MEDICATION (the smaller water clusters can affects the absorption rate of the medication).**
What’s your pH Level?
You can easily test the pH level of your body by putting a piece of litmus paper in your mouth. To perform the test, tear off a 1-2 inch strip of the litmus paper (from the roll it comes in) and place it under your tongue in some saliva. Immediately check the strip’s color against the color scale on the back of the roll.
An optimal reading should be around 6.4 to 6.8. For best results, you should test your pH level first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. To purchase litmus paper click here.
Are you ready to start taking advantage of the wonderful health benefits of drinking ionized alkaline water? Please click here to see my reviews on the best water ionizer machines currently available.