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DO NOT drink alkaline ionized water

Alkaline ionized water, more commonly called "alkaline water". is a highly controversial subject.

Anyone who criticizes this water - or worse still, warn that drinking alkaline ionized water might be harmful to health - can expect vicious attacks from advocates of alkaline water.

This was what happened recently (in 2011) to Dr Joseph Mercola, who runs the highly popular health website, Do an internet search for something like "alkaline water mercola" and you will find not just his original article, but lots of counter attacks.

I have not read all of the many counter attacks but the few I read focused more on attacking Dr Mercola as a person rather than the points he raised. What does this say?

The controversy actually started much earlier when another highly popular American health writer, Dr Andrew Weil, advised back in 2002: The health claims for water ionizers and for alkaline water are bogus. Save your money.

Again, he had some very aggressive reactions.

'MLM' water

The strong feelings of those who counter such advice will be readily understood once you know that BIG MONEY is involved. Alkaline ionized water systems for the home cost thousands of dollars each and are typically sold by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies.

This, itselt, should raise alarm bells. MLM products are sometimes good or even excellent, sometimes of dubious value... but they are always sold at exorbitant prices. How else do MLM companies reward their members so handsomely?

Of course, not everyone makes big money from selling MLM products. But... when a person had invested (lost) thousands of dollars on a home water treatment system to produce alkaline ioni

zed water, you can expect that person to be highly defensive. More so when that person is now trying hard to sell alkaline water in order to earn his / her MLM rewards.

So those who question alkaline ionized water will find themselves attacked by MLM companies as well as their customers or "members". Looks like I am setting myself up for controversy here. So let me begin by discussing...

Benefits of being (slightly) alkaline

There are many reasons to believe that good health arises from the body's environment being slightly alkaline - and that many many aspects of modern living make a person overly acidic - and sick!

Among other things, excessive consumption of sugar, soda drinks, meat and food chemicals makes the body environment acidic. Stess, too, produces acids.

Over-acidity is a major cause of osteoporosis. When the body becomes too acidic, it dissolves calcium from the bones to counter this acidity. This is why the Eskimos (who eat mainly meat) and the Americans (who eat plenty meat, sugar and food chemicals) have the highest rates of osteoporosis even though they also have very high calcium intakes.

Many other illnesses, from colds to cancer, are also believed by some health experts to be caused by - or to thrive in - an acidic body condition.

Critics of this theory will say, of course, that the scientific evidence is not conclusive. For example, they say it has not been proven conclusively that cancer can be cured or reversed by making the body more alkaline. Yet a good number of people have recovered from cancer through macrobiotics, which is a diet and lifestyle that, in effect, make the body more alkaline.

At the same time, there are cancer therapies that use strong acids, such as high doses of vitamin C. And these therapies also seem to work. So the scientific evidence seems to point both ways.

I, for one, find the theory of acid and alkaline balance very convincing and you can read more about it in my articles on acid and alkaline.

Alkaline vs alkaline ionized water

Another argument often cited by advocates of alkaline ionized water is that in communities like the Hiunzas in Pakistan, which are famous for its healthy and long-life inhabitants, the water is naturally alkaline, with a pH of about 8.0 to 9.0.

BUT... there is a big difference between naturally alkaline water versus alkaline ionized water.

In places like the Hunza region, the water is naturally alkaline because it is rich in minerals. Because minerala make the body alkaline, so one way to become more alkaline - and healthier - is to eat foods that are rich in minerals, including natural sea salt and seaweeds.

In the case of alkaline ionized water, any type of water - including distilled water that contains zero minerals - can be made into "alkaline water".

This is done through ionization or electrolysis - basically by passing an electrical current through the water. It turns the water into two streams - one that is acidic and another that is alkaline. Usually, the acidic water is discarded but it is said to have its uses - eg it is claimed to give better results when boiling eggs! The alkaline stream is the one that is said to be beneficial.

Just because naturally alkaline water is healthy, it does not mean that alkaline ionized water - which is essentially an artifically created product - is also healthy.

'Electrified' water

The use of electricity is one reservation that I have, although most people think nothing of it.

One of the mysteries of water is that it is believed to have a "memory". This may explain how homeopathic medicine works. In homeopathy, the original medicine is diluted and "potentiated" (by shaking the mixture vigorously) until none of the original substance is left. Yet it still produces an effect and one explanation is that the water "remembers" the energy vibrations of the medicine.

Based on this idea of water having a "memory", electricity is considered to have a negative influence on the quality of water. Some manufacturers of water treatment systems advise not to install their systems close to any electrical wires, power points or electrical appliances.

For most people, the influence of electricity may not matter. But for those with serious illnesses such as cancer - and these are the people more likely to invest in alkaline ionized water systems - the impact can be significant.

In macrobiotics, cooking with electricity and especially boiling water with electricity is strongly discouraged. A friend relates this incident...

When he was studying macrobiotics, one of the students in his class had a brain tumour. He was doing well on the macrobiotic diet and the tumour had shrank somewhat. But then the tumour began to grow again. At first, it did not seem as if he had done anything "wrong" as he was still eating the same foods. After much discussion and questioning, he revealed that he had moved house and because of the disruption, had begun to cook with electricity!

Most people would dismiss such discussions about the effects of electricity as being "unscientific" but there has been research done, with the evidence compiled in books such as The Body Electric by Robert O. Becker.

I do not know enough about the subject to say more about how electricity might affect alkaline ionized water. But it is a reservation that I have.

Click here for Part II of this article on alkaline ionized water.

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