Does Alkaline Water Deserve the Buzz?

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You know that staying hydrated with water is important for your health. No matter whether you’re an athlete, a recreational runner or tennis player, a backyard gardener, or just out walking your dog. 

But is one type of water – say, alkaline water – better than another for promoting your health or performance? 

If you follow pro sports, you might think so. You may have noticed that some athletes, like NBA stars, act like obsessed fans over alkaline water. 

They claim alkaline water quenches their thirst and boosts their performance like no other H2O on the planet.

“As long as you’re drinking clean, safe water, you’re getting the benefits.”

Is the Science There?

Alkaline Water Buzz small

But, says Alec Heffner, AT, CSCS, of Premier Health Sports Medicine, “There’s not much science to back up the claim that the alkaline water does anything different than normal water. There might be a placebo effect, that if a team thinks it’s helping, it is helping.”

He adds, “As long as you’re drinking clean, safe water, you’re getting the benefits."

What sets alkaline water apart from the rest is that it measures on the high-numbered alkaline end of the 0-14 pH scale — at about 8 to 8.5 pH – opposite the low-numbered acidic end. (Remember high school chemistry?) Minerals like calcium and magnesium raise the pH of alkaline water.

In contrast, normal drinking water is at around 7 pH, the neutral center of the scale, varying slightly from one locale to another due to natural mineral content. 

Josh Garner, an exercise physiologist with Premier Health Sports Medicine, cites a study that drinking alkaline water can increase blood viscosity. This may aid in post-exercise recovery by decreasing strain on an athlete’s cardiovascular system. 

But, he adds, this outcome may require more water than you would typically drink.

Other studies suggest that alkaline water offers other advantages such as easing acid refluxOff Site Icon

Most studies of alkaline water are largely inconclusive or incomplete.

No Harm Done

Yet, even though alkaline water probably makes no difference in performance, it also does no harm, Garner says. “The reason the NBA pushes hydrating with alkaline water is that hydration levels are important for everyone, especially athletes because they sweat so much. It’s just making them more aware, so their hydration levels are probably staying higher than they were previously.”

Another upside of the focus on alkaline water is that it reduces consumption of sugary sports drinks. 

“Sports drinks are good in moderation because they replace a lot of electrolytes that are lost through sweat and activity, but they are full of sugar that is not as beneficial to the body as water,” Garner says. “And there are other ways to get electrolytes.”

Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, support critical body functions. Good sources, says Heffner, include citrus fruits and juices, melons, strawberries, bananas and milk.

One more word of advice: Garner says, “Be mindful when you listen to pro athletes talk about what brand they drink. Take it with a grain of salt, because they may be getting paid by the brand.”

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Small Steps: Choose Fruit, Not Juice
To reduce sugar intake, eat fruit instead of drinking juice. You’ll reduce sugar consumption and get more nutrients