Is Drinking Too Much Alkaline Water Bad For You – In 2020, alkaline water was estimated to earn $46 million in revenue, up 20% from 2019. (1) This is no surprise, as alkaline water has many (largely false) health claims that go from improving digestion, reducing the risk of cancer, anti-aging properties, strengthening the immune system, colon cleansing and yes, preventing kidney stones.

Although alkalinity plays a role in kidney stones, alkaline water likely doesn’t change your body’s pH the way it needs to to reduce kidney stones. Read on to learn more about alkalinity, alkaline water, and kidney stones.

Is Drinking Too Much Alkaline Water Bad For You

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What Is Alkaline Water? Alkaline Ph Benefits & Process

To fully understand the connection between alkaline water and kidney stones, we need to take a trip back to high school chemistry class. I promise to make this as painless as possible!

Think of alkalinity and acidity as a spectrum, measured by the pH scale that runs from 0 to 14. The more acidic a substance is, the lower the pH value. The more alkaline it is, the higher the pH.

Alkaline water is just what it sounds like: water that is more alkaline than “normal” drinking water. Most water has a pH of about 7, and is neutral in terms of acidity and alkalinity. Alkaline water has electrolytes added to alkalize it, and has a pH greater than 7.

The exact pH of alkaline water varies dramatically by brand. Generally, the pH of alkaline water ranges from 8 to 10.

What Is Alkaline Water?

Although alkaline water has a high pH, ‚Äč‚Äčthis does NOT necessarily mean that this alkalinity ends up in our bodies after digestion. Or, that alkaline water makes our urine more alkaline, which is most important for kidney stone prevention.

The contents of your stomach have a pH of 1.5-3.5. Stomach acid will neutralize the alkalinity of alkaline water as soon as it reaches your stomach. Therefore, it is likely that alkaline water does not reduce acid levels in the blood, cells or organs.

If you drink a ton of alkaline water, it can raise the pH of your stomach, which can be dangerous. Stomach acid plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of specific foods and nutrients, especially vitamin B12 and protein.

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Stomach acid also helps kill harmful bacteria that may be in your food. This helps protect us from foodborne illness.

What Is Alkaline Water And It’s Health Benefits

The alkaline water industry constantly spreads the message that our bodies function better with less acid (or more alkali), so acid is to be feared. They use this message to sell alkaline water. This is simply not true.

Acidity and alkalinity play an important role in health. Your body tightly regulates the pH of your blood. If your blood pH is too high or too low, your body will not be able to function properly. In fact, if your body becomes too alkaline, it can cause death.

First, assuming you have functioning kidneys and lungs, your body is very good at keeping your pH in the right range.

The biggest way your body keeps your pH in the right range is through your urine. One of the main functions of your kidneys is to keep acid and alkaline levels where they should be. The kidneys do this by carefully removing the right amount of acid in your urine to keep your body’s pH at the right level.

Alkaline Water Benefits

This is where kidney stones appear. If you eat a diet that produces a lot of acid, this acid ends up in your urine. High levels of acid in the urine make uric acid, cystine, and calcium oxalate kidney stones more likely. However, read on to learn more about how alkaline water probably won’t reduce acid levels in your urine.

Too much acid in your urine (or low urine pH) can make uric acid, calcium oxalate, and cystine kidney stones more likely. (2) Calcium oxalate kidney stones are by far the most common type of kidney stone. (3) Uric acid kidney stones are also common. If you have a history of these types of kidney stones or have a low urine pH on a 24-hour urine test, there are things you can do to make your urine more alkaline.

However, a lack of acid (or a high urine pH) causes calcium phosphate stones to form. (2)

Of a food, rather than what the pH of the food itself is. Your stomach acid neutralizes the pH of anything you eat or drink. This is the crux of why alkaline water probably doesn’t alkalize your urine.

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Unlike alkaline water, fruits and vegetables will affect the body’s pH and health. Essentially, all fruits and vegetables become alkaline during metabolism. The alkali made during this process can help neutralize the acid in your body and reduce the amount of acid your kidneys have to remove in your urine. (4)

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The difference between the pH of a food and the metabolism of that food is an important distinction. For example, tomatoes are acidic. However, the metabolism of tomatoes makes alkali. So tomatoes actually have an alkaline effect on your body, even though they are acidic.

Essentially, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more alkaline your urine will be. In many cases, especially for uric acid kidney stones, a more alkaline urine is a good thing.

On the other hand, protein foods, especially animal flesh such as beef, poultry, fish and shellfish, are acid-producing. High-protein diets tend to increase acid levels in the urine. (4)

Alkaline Water Hype Vs. Potential Benefits & Side Effects

This concept is played out in research. We know that people who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to have a much lower risk of kidney stones. (5) (6) (7) This is likely to be at least partially due to the beneficial impact of fruits and vegetables on urine acid.

How does alkaline water fit into this? It is likely that, although alkaline water is alkaline itself, the metabolism of the water does not produce alkali. Therefore, it will have no benefits for kidney stones, above the benefit of drinking regular water.

For all the brands of alkaline water I could find, there wasn’t enough information about the amount and type of electrolytes in them to determine if they would produce alkali during metabolism. As we know, the pH of an actual liquid (or food!) says nothing about its ability to produce alkali during metabolism.

If you need to alkalinize your urine for kidney stones, it is better to focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables and eating the right amount of protein, rather than drinking alkaline water.

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Medicine is another way to alkalinize the urine. Potassium citrate and sodium bicarbonate are two common medications prescribed to reduce acid levels in the urine and help prevent the most common types of kidney stones.

Potassium citrate may also be prescribed to increase urine citrate levels. Citrate prevents the formation of calcium kidney stones.

There are some drinks that are specially formulated to produce alkaline. Unlike most alkaline waters on the market, we know exactly what is in these drinks and that they have the right combination of nutrients to make you alkaline after drinking.

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These drinks are not suitable for everyone. In some cases, these drinks can be harmful. So be sure to ask your doctor or registered dietitian if these drinks are right for you.

Alkaline Water: Health Drink Or All Hype?

No matter what type of kidney stone you have, drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do to prevent them.

The American Urological Association recommends drinking enough fluid to produce 2 1/2 liters of urine per day. For most people, this means drinking about 3 liters of fluid. (9)

Truthfully, for most people, plain old tap water is the best water for kidney stones. It’s cheap and accessible, so you’re more likely to be able to drink enough.

Bottled water is certainly not necessary for people with kidney stones. But, if you prefer the taste of bottled water and it will help you drink more, then bottled water is a good choice for you.

Is Drinking A 5 Gallon Alkaline Water Bottle Everyday Safe?

Mineral water can contain large amounts of calcium. Although eating enough calcium is important for the prevention of calcium oxalate kidney stones, ideally calcium should come from food.

One or two mineral waters a day probably won’t cause problems. However, because people with kidney stones need to drink so much water, that extra calcium could add up to harmful amounts.

Since we don’t know if alkaline water will actually reduce acid levels in the urine, I can’t recommend alkaline water over tap water.

Also, alkaline water can be very expensive. I would save your money and use it to buy fresh fruits and vegetables!

Benefits Of Alkaline Water

Be careful to limit drinks with a lot of sugar such as juice, punch, regular soda, energy drinks or sweet tea. Sugary drinks can increase the risk of kidney stones.

There is NO single kidney stone diet. Nutrition for kidney stones should be customized based on the type of kidney stones you have and your 24-hour urine risk factors. (9)

If you’re interested in learning what you can do to prevent kidney stones, read on

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