Have you wondered what the hype about alkaline drinking water is all about? Bottled water beverage companies market their products with the promises of added health benefits from alkaline. Remember, these companies are beverage providers, they are not in the business of protecting water quality. Claims that alkaline may have medical benefits to improve everything from acid reflux to diabetes and even high cholesterol can be found posted throughout the internet. Walking through the grocery store you will find shelves stacked with competing products of bottled water, but which is the most healthy? If claims regarding alkaline water are true, did you know that the tap water that comes from your faucet at home may in fact be alkaline? Due to standards regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most tap water is alkaline.
The pH levels in water measure hydrogen ions, which determine the acidity or alkalinity of water. The scale ranges from 0-14, seven is neutral with anything less than seven being acidic. If the pH is greater than seven the water is quantified as being alkaline. The EPA requires that tap water have a minimum pH level of 6.5, slightly below neutral. Many water agencies are above neutral making tap water a natural source of alkaline drinking water.Water that is alkaline contains minerals that some believe to be beneficial to your health due to the potential to neutralize acid in the bloodstream. However, according to the Mayo Clinic validity of these claims is still uncertain. Water in its most purest form is alkaline. If water is acidic then there is the potential for the body to absorb toxins. Home filters and water ionizers can be purchased to increase alkaline levels. It is recommended to first check your Consumer Confidence Report to check the pH levels at your home; you may be surprised by what you will read.
External factors in our diet and environment can be considered causes for a condition know as acidosis, which is an overproduction of acid in the bloodstream. Consuming fruits and vegetables can balance pH levels by making the body more alkaline. Some doctors and nutritionists believe that similarly, alkaline water may produce similar health results by neutralizing acid in the blood stream. Many medical studies can be found online on the effects of drinking alkaline water. It is important to note that many of these have been conducted with small sample sizes or only for short periods of time making results challenging to determine overall health benefits.
While representative studies may be inconclusive on the health benefits of higher pH levels in drinking water, check with your doctor and seek medical advice as you whether a high pH level will improve your overall health.
Bottled water is not as regulated as tap and in many circumstances beverage companies are bottling tap water; the same water you receive at your home, yet less monitored during the bottling process.
In California, bottled water is required to be tested and meet the same limits as tap water, however testing is much less frequent and is performed only on samples at the bottling plant. This would not detect any leaching of plastic components from bottles or bacteria that might grow during storage. Bottle water is required to report test results only if requested, while public water systems must provide water quality results each year to their customers. Next time to reach for the plastic bottle water, think twice, you may want to reach for a glass of tap water instead.
For information on pH levels of your tap water, visit the website of your water agency and check for pH levels. Each year, the EPA requires that all public water agencies provide customers with a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as a water quality report. Understanding how to decode your water quality report can be found on the SoCalTapWater blog.