pH Paranoia – Beware pf the Alka-Lie
By Jack Barber, www.vibrancemagazine.com (vol.2)
It’s an all-too-common misconception that guzzling “alkaline” water is the key to perfect health even though claims about the health benefits (or safety!) of this water are not supported by any credible evidence. This pH myth has created a thriving market of potions and gadgets for a trusting public willing to believe the “Alka-lie.”
Some have even gone so far as to say that drinking pure distilled water is harmful because it can be slightly acidic. It is important to note here that reverse osmosis (RO) water is also mineral-free and has the same pH properties as distilled. But for some reason, RO is routinely endored in these circles while distilled is routinely demonized…hmmm! The truth of the mater is the unique properties of mineral free, ultra pure drinking water actually make the pH factor irrelevant! Read on….
Water Chemistry 101
Basically, all water contains both hydrogen and hydroxide ions. The pH level is a relative measurement of the hydrogen ions, indicating the acidity or alkalinity of the solution. Any substance that lowers pH when dissolved in water is an acid. A base is a substance that raises the pH. A buffering substance enables a solution to resist pH change when an acid or base is added.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7.0 being neutral. A pH less than 7.0 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7.0 is alkaline. The pH scale is logarithmic, so for each unit of change in pH below 7.0, there is a tenfold change in acidity. This means a solution with a pH of 3 is 10 timers more acidic than one with a pH of 4 and 100 times more acidic than one with a pH of 5.
Pure distilled water is considered neutral, with a pH of 7.0, having an equal number of hydrogen and hydroxide ions. Since distilled water lacks dissolved solids (expressed as unit of TDS, or “total dissolved solids”), there is nothing to influence the pH change in either the alkaline or acid direction. The purity of distilled water means that adding the slightest amount of acid or base will easily change its pH.
Because of this, even a small amount of carbon dioxide from the air will combine with distilled water to lower the pH to a range between 6.0 and 6.9. For the same reason, adding just a pinch of an alkalizing substance, such as baking soda, will immediately raise the pH to over 7.0. It would require considerably more acid or base to change the pH of unprocessed (high TDS) water. The difference is in the buffers or dissolved solids making it resistant to change. In other words, the pH of distilled water is like a pendulum that can easily be moved wit a feather, as compared to the “mallet-like” measures required to transform the pH of high TDS water.
When you drink distilled water, it immediately combines with the slightly acidic or alkaline digestive enzymes in saliva, and seconds later, with very acidic digestive enzymes in your stomach without activating any bodily buffering systems or affecting bodily pH in any way. In short, the extremely sensitive distilled water pH immediately adjusts to your body rather than vice-versa. The much stronger hydrochloric acid in the stomach, with a pH of 1.0, is about 100,000 times more acidic than any slightly acidic distilled water, Again, this renders the pH of distilled water completely irrelevant!
It is also a fact that neither the pH of ordinary drinking water nor that of any of the highly alkalized waters can affect the extremely acidic pH of the gastric juices. As soon as water hits the highly acidic gastric fluid in the stomach, it alkalinity is gone. The only pH effect on body fluids is in your urine.
The Mayo Clinic responded as such to the plethora of alkaline water hype. “Some proponents say that alkaline water can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your energy level and metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively. Others say that alkaline water can help you resist disease and slow the aging process. However, there’s no scientific proof that any of these claims are true.”