The pH Debate

There is a tremendous amount of information about water ionizers on the internet.  Most of what you read is marketing hype, and virtually all of the “good stuff” is borrowed from others.  There is very little original material, and there are only a handful of people that I have found that actually have something useful to contribute.   

The health industry focuses on the importance of the benefits of being alkaline (pH over 7.0) because disease can’t exist in an alkaline environment. 

pH is the measure of the acidity (hydrogen rich H+ ions) or alkalinity (hydroxyl rich OH- ions) of water.  The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being the strongest acid, 14 being the strongest alkaline.  A pH of 7 is neutral (neither acidic or alkaline), as in the case of distilled or pure water.  The pH scale is logarithmic, which means that a pH level of 5.0 is ten times more acidic than a pH level of 6.0

The primary discussion about pH revolves in the health industry is focused on the pH level of blood because of the vital role  that pH plays in your health and survival.   The pH level of your blood will remain in a very tight range of 7.35 to 7.45, or the results can be very profound and dangerous.  As a result, your body has very sophisticated acid-alkaline balancing mechanisms that will ensure that your blood level will remain in the required range.  Your body will beg/borrow/steal anything available in the body to make sure the pH level remains in the very tight range mentioned above.  A good discussion of the acid-alkaline balance of your blood can be found at  http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec12/ch159/ch159a.html

Your body contains other fluids such as urine, saliva, and cerebrospinal fluid.  It is easy to test the pH of your urine and saliva with pH test strips.  When you test your urine or saliva, you should do so first thing in the morning before eating.  You will likely find that the pH levels are much lower than the pH level of your blood.   The pH level of advanced cancer patients can be in the low 5s while vegetarians often have a pH values in the high 6s.  When alkaline ionized water is added to the diet, most people will notice a significant increase in their urine and saliva levels.   Vegetarians often find that their pH levels will finally move into alkaline territory after drinking alkaline ionized water, as it appears that the water is the final ingredient in helping them become alkaline.

I’m aware of three individuals that post on the internet that alkaline ionized water can’t possibly work because the acidic level of the stomach neutralizes the alkaline properties of the water.  None of the naysayers actually drink the water, and they refuse to test it.  You may find it useful to check out the following link which is a technical (and somewhat dry) article written by Sang Whang.  The article explains how drinking alkaline water causes the body to produce important alkaline bicarbonate buffers in the blood when the stomach produces hydrochloric acid to neutralize the alkaline water:  http://alkalineworld.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/alkaline-water-stomach-acid/

Mr. Whang, the author of Reverse Aging, concludes the above article with the statement: “What is diminishing, as we age, is the alkaline buffer.  To maintain the alkaline–acid balance in the blood, we must recharge the alkaline buffer in the blood.  Drinking alkaline water is the best way.  This is better than any alkaline food”

I agree with the summary provided by Mr. Whang, as it makes sense.  However, I believe there is more to the water than the simple alkalinity argument.  Mr. Whang believes that ORP (oxidation reduction potential, which is measured by milivolts) doesn’t play an important role in the health benefits of alkaline ionized water.  My experience and research tells me that ORP also plays an important role in removing acid buildup and helping the body become more alkaline.

Virtually all substances that you consume end up in your stomach for a prolonged period of time to be processed.  However, it is well documented that sugar, alcohol, and ionized water pass directly through the stomach into the intestines, and into your blood.  We are all aware that police officers use this fact to test blood alcohol levels, as a two or three quick drinks can end up in DUI charges, as alcohol passes through the stomach immediately.

Having witnessed my father (a physician) pour maple syrup down the throat of my uncle during a diabetic seizure, I can tell you from experience that the results are very rapid and effective. The glucose from the maple syrup obviously bypassed the stomach.

You can easily prove to yourself that ionized water passes through the stomach immediately into the intestines.  If you attempt to drink 3 sixteen ounce glasses of tap or bottled water (48 ounces in total) in 2 minutes, you will find it very difficult to do so.  In addition, you will feel bloated and uncomfortable for hours.  If you drink the same 48 ounces of ionized water in the same two minute period, you will find that it is much easier to drink the water and you will not feel the unpleasant bloated feeling. 

So, what does this little drinking water experiment tell us? Negatively charged ionized water bypasses the stomach as advertised, just like the example of using maple syrup in the story about my uncle.  So, with all due respect to Mr. Whang and his logical argument, it appears there is more going on (as in the fact that ORP does play a role) than the simple creation of alkaline bicarbonate buffers when the stomach produces hydrochloric acid to neutralize alkaline water.   The stomach could not possibly create enough hydrochloric acid and the corresponding bicarbonates in such a short period of time.  Funny how a scary childhood experience would be part of this blog nearly 50 years later.   

As always, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and those quoted in the article and are not intended as medical advice.  Always consult your health care provider with health issues.

2 Responses to The pH Debate

  1. Great conversation with you Rob. Nobody has been willing to spend any real time discussing water ionizers legitimately. You just spent 1 1/2 hours talking to me. You are brilliant in your approach and really opened my eyes to the industry. Hats off to you!!

    • Hi Rich:

      Wow. I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless…maybe for the first time in my life…lol

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