Alkaline or Distilled: Which is the healthiest?

pH Paranoia

(excerpt from Drinking Water Scams a Waterwisdom report by Jack Barber)

In our attempt to guide you through the murky waters of misinformation, it’s not enough to tell the truth about distillation. We must expose the extravagant myths that our competitors continue to fabricate. The misleading pH myth has created a thriving market of potions and gadgets for a trusting public willing to believe the “alka-lie.” People are persuaded to believe that guzzling “alkaline” water is the key to perfect health, even though claims about the health benefits (or safety!) of “alkaline” water are not supported by any credible evidence.

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 water is also mineral free and has the same pH properties as distilled. Curiously, however, RO is routinely endorsed in these circles while distilled is routinely demonized…hmmm!
The truth of the matter is the unique properties of mineral free, ultra pure drinking water actually make the pH measurement totally meaningless! This may sound too simple, but read on…

For a basic explanation, all water contains both hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions. The pH level is a relative measurement of the hydrogen ions, representing the acidity or alkalinityof the solution. Any substance that lowers the pH when dissolved in water is an acid. A base is a substance that raises the pH. Buffers are substances that enable 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 being neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than alkaline. The pH scale is logarithmic, so for every one unit of change in pH there is a tenfold change in acidity. This means a solution with a pH of 3 is 10 times 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, having an equal number of hydrogen and hydroxide ions. Since there is a lack of dissolved solids (TDS) in distilled water, there is nothing to influence the pH change in either the alkaline or acid direction. That degree of purity makes distilled water extremely sensitive so that adding the slightest amount of acid or base will easily change its pH. Because there are no buffering substances to make distilled water resistant to change, even a small amount of carbon dioxide from the air will combine with distilled water to lower the pH to about 6. For the same reason, adding just a pinch of an alkalizing substance like baking soda will immediately raise the pH to over 7. It would require considerably more acid or base to change the pH of unprocessed (high TDS) water with the same pH. The difference is 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 with a feather, compared to high TDS water that requires a mallet to move the pendulum.

When you drink distilled water, it immediately combines with the slightly acidic digestive enzymes in saliva and seconds later with very acidic digestive enzymes in your stomach without “activating any buffering systems” or affecting pH in any way. In short, the extremely sensitive distilled water pH immediately adjusts to your body rather than your body adjusting to the distilled water pH. The much stronger hydrochloric acid in the stomach with a pH of 1 is about 100,000 times more acid than any slightly acidic distilled water that it combines with. That renders the pH of distilled water completely irrelevant!

It is also a fact that neither the pH of ordinary drinking water nor 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, its alkalinity is gone. The only effect on body fluids is the pH of your urine.

Even though the pH of alkaline water is altered in the acid environment of the stomach, it can have a long-term effect on the digestive system. The stomach always contains some gastric juices and is always acidic. The enzymes that the stomach lining secretes are specially designed to work best in a strongly acid solution. So, every time you drink alkalized water, your stomach produces more acid to compensate for the dilution of gastric juices. The constant ingestion of alkaline water can create an abnormal digestive condition in a previously healthy gut.

Furthermore, drinking alkaline water along with meals can dilute the natural acidity of the digestive tract and interfere with digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. This results in putrefaction of undigested food and accumulation of toxic waste which can create a variety of health problems. Consumption of high alkaline water is consistently linked to excessively dry skin and fungus growth. Maintaining normal stomach acidity is also necessary to protect against bacteria that can be ingested in both food and water.
Advocates of alkaline water claim that it is not actually the water that is alkalized but the minerals in the water, primarily calcium, potassium and magnesium. They explain that the main benefit of alkaline water is to assist in the absorption of these “alkaline” minerals. From a scientific perspective, these ions all form insoluble carbonates in alkaline solution and become even less available.

Minerals are proven to be better absorbed in an acidic environment. As people age, they tend to produce less stomach acid, which means they also tend to absorb fewer minerals. This can be compounded by the consumption of high alkaline water which adds up to one of the worst things you could do for your health.

The staggering health claims made about alkalized water also include “super anti-oxidant” because of something called oxidation reduction potential (ORP). The ORP measure has been useful in the pool and spa industry as well as municipal water treatment for years to monitor pathological activity, but now it’s the newest twist in the alkaline water scam. Just in case you weren’t confused enough about water, the spinmeisters have somehow related ORP to the potential of alkaline water to “remove acid waste” from the body. Though distilled water has been historically recommended for this purpose, the claims are now are being spun in favor of alkaline water based on this new misapplication of ORP measures. If reputable “scientists” cannot agree on this notion, how can the average consumer possibly make any sense of this double talk?

The Mayo Clinic responded to the 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.”

The popular “alkaline ionizing” gizmos, according to scientists, are not only “medically baseless andworthless,” but possibly dangerous. Testing by Japanese researchers showed no harmful effects on test animals for short term exposure to alkaline water. However, extended testing on these same animals resulted in near universal mortality. Three other Japanese studies have been published in peer journals and independently verified showing that alkaline water caused pathological changes in heart cell muscles and increased the risk of heart attack in laboratory animals. These results raise very serious doubts about the safety of drinking “alkaline” water.

In spite of all the warnings, many people want the best health without the sacrifices needed to achieve it effectively and safely. We all love the idea of a quick fix. What better way to correct years of poor nutrition, zero exercise and chronic dehydration than by simply drinking “magical” alkaline water. Hucksters prey on these consumers, selling their useless products which may have severe long-term side effects. According to reputable scientific sources, “ionized water” is nothing more than sales fiction.

The wide range of pH values needed throughout the body is exquisitely balanced, primarily through a complex system of buffering and breathing. There are, however, some simple things you can do to maintain a naturally healthy pH. Just eating more fruits and vegetables, practicing deep breathing, and drinking plenty of pure hydrating water will enable your body to more easily remove toxins and acid wastes. Other factors such as lack of exercise, emotional stress, medication, coffee, alcohol and smoking can adversely affect the internal pH of your body over an extended period of time. Improving your health is not a quick-fix but a slow, cumulative process consisting of numerous lifestyle choices.

Dr. Andrew Weil, nationally known nutritionist, author and Founder of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Arizona, has stated, “For reasons I don’t understand, any number of myths—some quite extreme— have grown up over the years about distilled water. As far as acidity goes, distilled water is close to neutral pH and has no effect on the body’s acid/alkaline balance.”

As a Harvard Medical School graduate, Dr. Weil is eminently qualified to evaluate the health claims of alkaline water. He says, “The health claims for water ionizers and alkaline water are bogus. Save your money. You should consider the fact that alkaline water is common throughout the western states, but to my knowledge, it has not protected anyone from the diseases and disorders that occur elsewhere in the U.S.”

Dr. Carey Reams, world renowned expert on body pH, was trained in mathematics, biophysics and biochemistry and had six PhD’s to his credit. Dr. Reams is best known for developing the Biological Theory of Ionization, a system to measure energy in the body by measuring and balancing the pH, which he used in his practice for over fifty years with astounding success. The best water to drink according to Dr. Reams is distilled! And it is still being used today by those who practice his system of pH balancing.

We believe the evidence clearly shows that any discussion regarding the “acidity” of distilled water or the “beneficial” pH of alkaline water is useless, especially considering the unique properties of distilled water. Some common horse sense, coupled with biochemistry 101, exposes this “alkalie.” It is our sincere hope, therefore, that this expose will settle once and for all any unfounded concerns about the pH of distilled water so you can freely enjoy this pure elixir of life without any “pH paranoia."


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