In your high school chemistry class, you probably learned about a neat thing called the pH scale: it’s a scale that measures the acidity or alkalinity of certain products or bodily fluids. Water, too, has a unique pH that is the measure of the balance between the hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH) ions in the water. A low pH (1-6) means it’s acidic, and a high pH (8-14) is alkaline.
A pH of 7 is neutral, and the body functions optimally around this pH; in fact, blood and most bodily fluids are often near a pH of 7.365-7.4 under normal circumstances. If this pH is thrown off due to an increase in acidity, the body is not really affected, but it has to work harder to get back its normal pH. Note, however, that acidic doesn’t automatically mean “bad” and alkaline “good.” The body simply needs to stay in homeostasis, a balance.
Part of a healthy diet and body overall is maintaining a proper acid/alkaline balance, which is difficult on a standard American, highly processed diet. This may lead to a “minute degree of acidification that may cause leaching of calcium from bones,” leading to osteoporosis.
On the pH scale, soda has a pH of 2; coffee has a pH of 4, and cucumber has a pH of 7. Burgers, fries, diet cola, muffins, and candy bars are all acidic. Green drinks, salads, vegetables, and fruits are all extremely alkaline. Getting the body back to homeostasis is simple as long as they don’t happen 24/7.
Consuming fruits and vegetables as part of an anti-inflammatory and alkaline diet makes the body function properly, lowering your risk for getting diseases like this.
Water factors into this paradigm, because the body is mostly composed of water, and water runs everything. Here are some ways to lower or raise the pH of water, respectfully.
Ways to Lower the pH
- Filtering water over peat
- Add bogwood to the tank
- Inject carbon dioxide CO2
- Use a commercial acid buffer
- Water changes with softened water or RO (Reverse Osmosis) water
Ways to Raise the pH
- Aerate the water, driving off the carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Filter over coral or limestone
- Add rocks containing limestone to the tank or use a coral sand substrate
- Use a commercial alkaline buffer
Theoretically, alkaline (ionized) water is a powerful antioxidant with surplus electrons that can prevent the dangerous free radicals from building up in the blood stream. Marketers claim that alkaline water can correct excess acidity in your tissues, preventing or reversing cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Some people experience an initial “high” when they start drinking alkaline water, which can be attributed to detoxification and becoming re-hydrated; however, benefits like these, in actuality, only last for a week or two.
These short-term benefits do not take into account that autosomal cells die under extremely alkaline conditions. This was explored in a study published by the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which found that rising cellular pH causes alkaline-induced cell death because of an alteration to mitochondrial function. Cornell University found that antioxidants have not proven to be effective against many neurodegenerative diseases, and they state it may be a result of how the mitochondria operate within the cell in certain pH conditions. By drinking excess amounts of alkaline water, the acidity of your stomach will be compromised, which could impair your ability to digest food (protein especially) and contribute to ulcers which, in turn, creates an optimal environment for parasites to invade the small intestine. Alkalinity is also potentially a problem because it is antibacterial, so it could potentially disrupt the balance of your body’s beneficial bacteria.
The bottom line is to just drink more water. Don’t worry about fancy, overpriced, alkaline waters, but always make sure your water is filtered and safe. Alkaline water is perfectly fine to drink periodically, and for much needed hydration, but don’t overdo it. Like with most things, the Buddhist philosophy of moderation should be applied here. Now, go fill up a nice glass of water, and drink up!
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