Alkaline water: a healthy way of hydrating or over-hyped nonsense?

Celebs such as Beyoncé, Mark Wahlberg and Prince Harry are obsessed!

man drinking water from a bottle
(Image credit: PeopleImages / iStock)

If you're an avid water-drinker (check out our 2023 guide to the best water bottles if so) then you'd know that there really isn't a better alternative. Many people will often try to find other ways to stay hydrated that don't involve drinking water  but searches like these will always take you back to where you started: water really is the best. It's also the reason why hydration alternatives are so debatable, especially alkaline water. 

You may or may not have of alkaline water before. I certainly hadn't, until it recently made headlines that Prince Harry was spotted drinking it after the gym one day. After this sparked my curiosity and I began researching, I learnt that many people experience a lot of benefits from drinking alkaline water. Some say it can even slow down the ageing process as well as prevent serious diseases and conditions such as cancer. It is water at the end of the day, but what makes it so different to 'normal' water? 

What is alkaline water?

Alkaline water is water that has been treated to have a higher pH than normal.  

A pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is, ranging from 0 (extremely acid) to 14 (extremely alkaline). 7 is considered the neutral spot, and is usually the category that 'normal' water fits into. Alkaline water usually has a pH of 8 or 9.

Alkaline water is know for tasting more bitter than your average tap water. If you use alkaline water in other drinks such as tea or coffee, it will also alter the taste. 

What are the benefits of alkaline water? 

Many studies have claimed that there are beneficial health benefits that come from drinking alkaline water. The main advantage is that its high pH level is able to neutralise many acids within the body, especially if they're irritating or cause other health issues. 

For example, a 2012 study found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help soothe acid reflux. This is due to the high pH being able to deactivate pepsin, the main digestive enzyme that causes acid reflux. Another alkaline water benefit is its ability to neutralise acid within the bloodstream, leading to increased oxygen levels, improved circulation and a heightened metabolism. It's also known for containing minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which give your body an extra boost of hydration and prevent dehydration.

It's also believed that alkaline water contains powerful antioxidants that counteract cellular breakdown, the main catalyst for ageing. One 2016 study looked at the effect of alkaline water on mice, with the overall result being that the mice who consumed alkaline water aged less and were more likely to live longer.

There are many claims when it comes to the benefits of drinking alkaline water and whilst studies have been carried out, there is still a lack of proven scientific research. 

What are the side effects of alkaline water?

Normally, the body uses the lungs and kidneys to maintain your pH level, so unless you have a kidney disease, alkaline water won't pose any serious health risks. Consuming a large amount may dry out your skin or cause an upset stomach, but that's about it. 

However, just because it's safe doesn't actually mean it does anything for you. Unless you have a lung or kidney disease, your pH is regulated regardless of the beverages or foods you consume. When you drink alkaline water, the acid in your stomach will neutralise it before it even enters the bloodstream.

Alkaline water: verdict

There are a number of health benefits that come from consuming alkaline water, particularly if you suffer from acid reflux issues. 

However, at the end of the day, alkaline water is pretty much neutralised before you can even benefit from it. You're therefore much better off having a tall glass of water from the tap, no matter how much you don't want to believe it!

Interested in more? Read about whether infused water is actually good for you or not!

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.