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- Alkaline water is a popular health trend, with claims that it improves digestion, helps with weight loss, and hydrates better than regular water.
- It's different from other water because it's less acidic, with a pH level from 7.4 to 9.5. It also sometimes contains electrolytes and minerals.
- It's true that drinking it can be good for you, but research hasn't shown it's any better than regular water.
- Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.
Alkaline water, so named because it has a higher pH level and is therefore less acidic that plain water, is having a moment, appearing in stores, online, at gyms, and beyond.
Proponents claim it provides better hydration, helps detoxify your body, balances your pH levels, boosts your energy, and even supports weight loss.
But nutrition experts say it's probably not superior to plain old water. Plus, research on diets and cancer risk found that alkaline water had no proven health benefits for cancer prevention or otherwise.
"Basically, the type of water you choose to drink won't have a considerable impact on your health, provided that it's plain, calorie-free water," Ali Webster, a registered dietitian and associate director of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, told Insider.
Here's what else to know about the so-called benefits of the beverage.
Alkaline water simply means it has a higher pH level than regular water
The difference between alkaline water and regular water is its acidity.
Most drinking waters have a pH somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Anything above 7 is technically considered alkaline, meaning it has more hydroxide than hydrogen ions, but but what that means for the body isn't clear — if it means anything at all.
The alkalinity of alkaline waters varies based on specific brands, and some also contain added mineral or vitamins. Some varieties may undergo special processing such as ionization (which works by concentrating hydroxide ions, the HO part of H20) or UV purification (which kills waterborne bacteria with ultraviolet light).
Some people also try to make their own alkaline water by adding baking soda to regular tap water, but Webster said that's unlikely to do any good.
Most commercial alkaline waters range from slightly more expensive than regular bottled water (around $2 to $3 a bottle) to significantly costlier, with some brands running up to $15 for a 1.5 liter container.
Most of the purported benefits of alkaline water can be obtained elsewhere
Popular brands of alkaline water may have added vitamins and minerals, which could be good for you. But if you're also eating a nutrient-dense diet including fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and dairy (or a calcium-rich alternative), "it's not critical to get these compounds from the water you're drinking," Webster said.
As for the claim that alkaline water helps balance your pH level, there's no need — your body does that naturally, according to Healthline, courtesy of your lungs and kidneys. If it is too high or too low, that's a sign of a serious medical problem and you need a doctor, not a cold beverage.
The promising research on alkaline water comes with caveats
One 2016 research article suggested alkaline water could be more hydrating than regular water after exercise. But it was funded by Essentia, one of the most popular brands of alkaline water on the market. "More work needs to be done on this topic before any recommendations can be made for exercise recovery," Webster said.
A 2012 study found that water with a pH of 8.8 or higher can deactivate a digestive enzyme called pepsin, which could help reduce acid reflux. However, the research is based on researchers mixing solutions in a lab (rather than in humans), so it's unclear whether or how well it would work in the body.
The bottom line is drinking water — of any kind — is good for you
It's well known that staying hydrated is important for your overall health and well-being. It's essential to bodily functions, such as keeping your kidneys healthy, regulating body temperature, maintaining good digestion, and more. Water also, of course, prevents dehydration, which can cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, or worse.
But this is true of all water — from a bottle or a tap, alkalized, ionized, or otherwise.
If you think alkaline water tastes better or helps you stay hydrated, it's fine to drink it, Webster said, although the long-term effects haven't been studied so it may have risks we don't know about yet. But go ahead and drink alkaline water if you want to — just don't expect it to be a one-way ticket to better health.