Effect of drinking slightly acidic or basic water on the pH of the human body (Hint: It’s none)

A friend just asked me to de-bunk a post which has appeared on a particular facebook page for a water filter (*cough cough*).

No worries. This is dedicated to you, Linden!

The page states that they tested different water types for their acidity (with the kids, so you just know that they were following all of the correct laboratory safety protocols and statistical repeatability and reproducibility). They then stated that certain water brands were better for you, because they were less acidic. I especially loved the following: “With stress and foods causing acidity in our body, the only way to neutralise all of it is to drink alkaline water as we are made of 70% water.” (Sounds like a promotion to me!!)

water acidity kangen

Mmmm, I don’t know about that…

I’d love to do my own testing, and have a look at the pH of the different water types that they used, but I don’t have time at the moment, sorry! Anyway, what I would do is use a pH meter to check the approximate pH levels. Just to make sure that the claimee’s weren’t just using coloured dyes to make certain brands look good or bad, and because repeatability, reproducibility and more accurate equipment in analysis is always a good thing.

pH meter

You stick the black probe in the water, press a button, and voila! A pH reading.

The regular pH of the human body is 7.4, just above the ‘neutral’ level 7.0. Lower than pH 7 is considered acidic (with more acidic solutions towards 1), and higher than pH 7 is considered basic/ alkaline (increasing in alkalinity up to pH 14).

pH

pH values range from just under 1 to just over 14.

Different ions/ minerals may slightly change the pH of water. For example, ‘hard’ water (slightly basic) often contains calcium carbonate and magnesium (interestingly this means that when we use dishwashing detergent in hard water, it doesn’t lather as well). I should also note here that acidic drinks are associated with tooth decay, as they break down the enamel in our teeth- a post that I will be writing soon for another friend!

Also, one other side note, that I will address in another post: Fluoride is NOT the enemy. See this fantastic infographic about how fluoride has an undeserved reputation).

Undeserved-Reputations-Fluoride

Fluoride is not going to kill us all. It’s actually there to help us pay lower dentist bills!

So, will stress, foods, or slightly acidic drinking water cause the pH level of our body to become acidic?

I would say a big fat NO.

Unless you are drinking sulphuric acid or concentrated sodium hydroxide, you are going to be fine (and I reckon that if you do ingest either of these, the burning down your throat would be the thing to worry you… DISCLAIMER: Do not drink either of these). 

If our body were to change in pH by only 0.05 either way, we would be in a bit of trouble. For a pH above 7.45, we would be undergoing alkalosis, and under 7.35 means that we’re experiencing acidosis. While these conditions are pretty serious stuff and include symptoms like headaches, confusion, muscle cramps and muscle pain, and potentially even coma, so are the causes. Acidosis occurs due to certain bodily organs being unable to carry out their normal job (e.g. the kidney in removing acids from our normal systems) or a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, due to hypoventilation (not breathing enough). Alkalosis, from repeated vomiting and severe hydration, or hyperventilation (breathing too much, meaning there is not enough carbon dioxide in our blood).

By now, you would have noticed that nowhere in those causes of acidosis or alkalosis were ‘drinking acidic or basic water’, ‘stress’, or ‘foods’.

The human body is an amazing thing, with so many different cells and systems and processes to keep us functioning each day. While the pH of our body should be around pH 7.4, the stomach is highly acidic at around pH 2.0, so that we can break down foods to access the nutrients we may need. Different parts of our body exist just fine at different pH. And we don’t need to drink certain types of water or eat certain types of food to restore our pH balance. Our body does that just fine on it’s own.

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