I Switched to Alkaline Water and This Is What Happened
Should you be drinking it too?
Drink at least 8 cups daily, more if you work out. Have water 30 minutes before you eat to promote weight loss. Skip room temperature water (you can burn more calories by drinking cold water). Is it just me or does the simplest thing you can do for your health (drinking water) feel so complicated sometimes? Add to that the constant flood of absurd “wellness” trends (raw water, fat water or melted water anyone?) and the mere mention of hydration is enough to make your head spin.
As someone who takes a pretty simple approach to health and nutrition (listen to what your body is asking for and give it the best version of that possible) I don’t generally give a lot of thought or attention to bottled water trends. Water is water, right? But then I was asked the following question: “When you think about what to put in your body you choose best-quality foods like sustainable fish and organic produce; why wouldn’t you do the same with water?” And, do you know what? I didn’t have a good answer.
That’s what piqued my interest in alkaline water. There's so much buzz around this mineral-infused, higher-pH water (believers claim everything from improved digestion to quicker recovery times post-workout) that I wondered, could it really be better for my health than other waters? And, if something as simple as changing the source of my drinking water could have a positive effect on my wellness, wasn’t it worth a shot?
I thought it was. So, I decided to commit to an alkaline water “challenge” and replace all of my drinking water with Essentia bottled water (self-proclaimed “overachieving H2O”) for two full weeks. Essentia use a proprietary, three-step process to purify water (from any source) through microfiltration and reverse osmosis, infuse it with a blend of electrolytes (hello, hydration) and then ionize the water for superior taste and a pH of 9.5 or higher. All of this results in “supercharged” ionized alkaline water that many believe hydrates more quickly and efficiently. And hydration, as we all know, has a ton of benefits.
That being said, I wanted to control the variables in this experiment as much as possible. I wanted to make sure that if I did perceive any changes, they could be reasonably tied back to the alkaline water. I was careful not to alter anything about my daily routine other than the source of my water. My diet, workout, sleep patterns and beauty regimen all remained the same. Most importantly, I made I made a point not to change the amount of water that I was drinking during the challenge. Instead of committing to a minimum of 8 cups per day I stuck to my usual wellness philosophy and listened to my body, only drinking when I felt thirsty – even if that meant taking in less that day. Basically, I tried to keep everything about my life the same, except where my water was coming from.
I kept a journal of everything from what I was eating and drinking to how much I was sleeping and working out for the entirety of the challenge. Then, I talked to two professionals about my notes. And this is where things get interesting. There’s not much research to support the health claims behind alkaline water – and most medical professionals will tell you that you can get the same results from drinking a sufficient amount of any water (it doesn’t have to be alkaline) — but I feel so much different after the switch. Seriously! I decided to keep going with the “challenge” and have been drinking alkaline water for more than 6 weeks now.
Here's what happened.
My Experience: Healthier Looking Skin
I cook and wash my hands lot – so they get really dry. Even during the summertime when it’s hot and humid I rely on thick, heavy “healing” moisturizers. I always have a travel-size tube handy so that I can lotion my hands after each time that I wash them.
A few days into the alkaline water challenge I noticed that my hands and cuticles looked less dry than usual. After two weeks I was using hand lotion about once a day. Six weeks in I rarely use it. Maybe twice a week. Maybe.
And, not only did my skin appear more hydrated, my complexion was getting clearer (and glow-ier) with each passing day. I break out along my jaw line once every four weeks, without fail (sigh) but this past month only a small portion of my chin (on one side of my face) was affected — and the swelling was gone in a matter of days. I have a little remaining redness but my skin is definitely healing faster than usual.
Professional Opinion: There Could Be Other Factors at Play
According to skincare expert Dr. Robb Akridge, “it takes 28 days to replenish a new layer of cells on the skin’s surface. So, two weeks seems very quick to see results related to alkaline water”. He asked me about a variety of other factors (changes in weather and humidity, pregnancy, etc.), letting me know that they could have a positive impact on skin health as well. He agreed that “seeing positive changes to your skin is real” and considered my results “fascinating” because, from a scientific standpoint, it is unlikely that they are tied to the pH of my drinking water.
My Experience: Better Digestion
Day 7 in my “hydration challenge” was a game-changer. We had plans to meet our friends at the pool so I made a quick breakfast of fresh strawberries and two slices of sprouted grain toast topped with almond butter and cinnamon before grabbing a cold brew and heading out the door to meet them. We had a great afternoon hanging out in the sun and taking slow-motion videos of our kiddos splashing in the pool (so epic!). Around 2pm we headed over to the picnic area to have some lunch.
I had packed myself a salad (leafy greens, farro, berries, goat cheese and pistachios) and, as I pulled it out of the cooler, I remember thinking how much I was not looking forward to my usual, post-lunch reflux – especially in the 90-degree heat. But, to my surprise, I never experienced any symptoms: no bloating; no acid bubbling up in my esophagus creating a whole bunch of super-obnoxious, teeny, tiny burps; and no sore throat.
Even better, my symptoms have almost completely vanished. In the 5 weeks that have passed since day 7 of the challenge and now, I’ve only had three meals that have triggered some sort of acid reflux.
Professional Opinion: The Science Seems Unlikely
Nutritionist Dana Angelo White and Dr. Robb Akridge both tell me that our bodies work to neutralize everything that we put into them in order to maintain normal function. That, of course, raises the question of whether alkaline water maintains its’ pH as it travels through the digestive system. Dana White says, “the acid in the stomach is always changing (based on factors like the time of your last meal) but it generally has a pH somewhere between 1 and 3. I don’t see how a pH of 9.5+ in such a low quantity could trump the acidity in the stomach.” Dr. Akridge agrees saying that “the body is always working to keep things in balance” but he does tell me that one possible explanation, though not proven, is that the minerals in the water are having a positive effect.
The Bottom Line
There isn’t scientific proof to support the health claims around alkaline water – but that doesn’t mean those claims have been disproved. I now know, first-hand, that more research is needed to fully understand what happens, physiologically, when we drink alkaline water.
Proper hydration is an important factor in both skin health and digestion. I saw real changes in my body without increasing the amount of water I was taking in on a daily basis. It stands to reason that I could be more hydrated when I drink alkaline water.
As I was wrapping up my conversation with nutritionist, Dana White we started talking about the possibility of placebo effect. Was my belief in Essentia’s “supercharged” status enough to improve my skin health and digestion? Maybe. But I can’t help wondering, why Essentia and not the zillions of other products that I’ve believed in throughout the years? This bottled water is one of the only wellness products that has ever lived up to its claims so I plan to keep chugging at least one a day – and overachieving, just like my H2O.
Special thanks to Dana Angelo White and Dr. Robb Akridge for their professional expertise.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks: First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
Dr. Robb Akridge PhD is co-founder of Clarisonic and renowned skincare expert. He received his PhD in Microbiology (specializing in Immunology and Infectious Diseases) from Texas A&M University and spent 25+ years in medical and global health research. His educational background combined with his professional experience in clinical research has made him a wealth of knowledge when it comes to skincare, how the skin interacts with environmental externalities and how people should treat various skin challenges. He also studied botany and has a keen understanding of various ingredients and their impact on the skin from a scientific level.