What Really Happens When You Drink Alkaline Water

The importance of drinking enough water is well-documented. However, some people care not just how much water they drink, but what kind. Alkaline water is credited with clear skin, weight loss, reducing acid reflux, and helping the body fight cancer. According to CNN Health, even Beyoncé swears by its benefits. But how much of its purported benefits have been proven?

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of science in favor of the alkaline water trend. There's just no proof that the pH balance of the entire body can be affected by alkaline water in any significant way (via Reader's Digest). That's because the hydrochloric acid in the stomach is strong enough to neutralize water before it enters the bloodstream. Stomach acids are necessary to break down proteins and kill pathogens that might be lurking in your food. Your body already does the work necessary to maintain an optimally balanced pH level.

Are there any benefits to drinking alkaline water?

Alkaline water may not be the miracle cure that some people claim, but it's not without its benefits. According to one study, alkaline water may have some positive effect as a supplemental treatment for reflux disease (via Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology). Another study found that alkaline water significantly improved blood flow after a strenuous workout (via Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition). These studies were small, but show a promising direction for future research.

According to WebMD, most people would benefit simply from drinking plain water. Many of the benefits are lessened when water is artificially alkalized, since it lacks the minerals present in naturally-occurring alkaline water. However, drinking alkaline water poses very little negative risk, and may benefit individuals simply by encouraging them to replace sugary beverages with water instead. If you're looking to get the most out of your daily water intake, Reader's Digest recommends lemon water, which has a documented list of impressive health benefits (and is a much more affordable trend).