Alkaline Water Machines - Are They Worth it?
The Big Picture - A Little Common Sense
Water Ionizer History
Water Ionizers perform a function known as electrolysis, which was invented by Russian scientists and received lots of attention from Japanese researchers during the 1930s to 60's. They found through clinical studies that there were benefits for health and proceeded in the 80's to get counter-top water ionizers approved as medical devices by the Japanese Ministry of Health.
Every year thousands of water ionizers are sold via about 15 different companies. These water ionizer machines typically sell for $2000 - $4000. That's a substantial investment which could compare to buying a new fridge and stove. Why would people pay so much for these machines when tap water is free?
What's in your water?!
If you think that the above picture is a bit far fetched, check this out: Lead Poisoning affects 1 in 38 children in the United States! Link to Lead Poisoning article
A water ionizer is not going to remove all of the contaminants from your water but they do come with filters that remove chlorine, sediments and some heavy metals. Many people who get a water ionizer for the health benefits also get a pre-filter system which gives you extra abilities to remove contaminants. There are many types of specialized water filters available depending on the exact needs. You can get convenient under-counter water filters for: chlorine, chloramides, nitrates, heavy metals, hard water, soft water, etc.
How Water Ionizers Work
Electrolysis is a process that separate the Alkaline and Acidic sections of water. The alkaline section changes your tap water from a pH level of about 7 to somewhere between 8 and 9.5. By drinking a higher pH water it allows your body to increase in alkalinity (reduces stress on "alkaline buffers").
One of the parts of water that can support or prevent good health, is called Oxygen Reduction Potential. You can either have negative ORP or positive ORP. Positive ORP is found in tap water, bottled waters, distilled and reverse osmosis waters and is oxidizing. Any quality water ionizer produces Negative ORP which is anti-oxidizing and reduces free radicals.
... Someone told me that Alkaline Water is Bad for Your Stomach? - Here is a quote from Arizona physician Horst Filtzer (a former chief of surgery at Cambridge Hospital), "alkaline water passes into the intestines without much difficulty since stomach acid isn't produced in response to water. It doesn't do much good to drink alkaline water with food—such as a steak—that does trigger an acid response". (That's why its recommended that you don't drink much water while you're eating).
There is a limited amount of Medical research on water ionizers in the western world because here we are focussed on attacking the problem instead of preventing it in the first place. Water Ionizers are much more common in Asia.
One medical study found that the alkaline ionized water improves the body's ability to destroy cancer cells by "enhancing induction of mitochondrial damage and cell death of human leukemia HL-60 cells Reference: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19202298
Most people report that the ionizer water tastes much differently then tap or bottled water. Another interesting fact is that you can make tea using cold ionized water and it works very well, however if you put the tea bag in your tap water - nothing happens! Some companies say that this is because the water is micro-clustered but there is some debate around this in the scientific community.
As our bodies are 70% water, it's important that we drink the highest quality water if we want to feel our best.