Bottled water has become a ubiquitous part of our busy lives, but not all bottled water is created equal. 90% of bottled water brands served on shop shelves are RO, purified water brands along with a handful of natural mineral water, or spring water brands. Which one should you choose? There's a reason water sommeliers all over the world prefer spring and natural mineral water. It comes from protected natural sources and it's got a mineral composition and taste no machine or purifier can match. However, one swift google search will lead you to a new category that's taking over - alkaline water. You've seen celebs drink it, athletes endorse it, and the internet deem it as healthier bottled water. But what exactly makes water alkaline? Nature or a machine?
What Is Alkaline Water?
The pH level measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. Normal drinking water has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water has a pH closer to 8. However, pH alone isn't enough to impart substantial alkalinity to water. Alkaline water must also contain natural and healthy alkaline minerals. Calcium, magnesium and potassium are some of those alkaline minerals. Since we don't manufacture these minerals in our body, we need them in our diet to protect cardiovascular health, benefit bone density, aid digestion and prevent diseases caused by deficiencies such as osteoporosis in the long run.
(Also Read: How to Make Alkaline Water at Home: A Refreshing Tonic for Weight Loss)
The process through which your drinking water has acquired an alkaline pH is more important than you think. These minerals can come from the earth, or they come from artificial processes. Natural citrate minerals have a much higher bioavailability from natural mineral water. Studies show that almost none of the commonly used methods to re-mineralise water after RO purification can be considered adequate to positively impact health.
Natural Alkaline Water Vs. Ionized Alkaline Water: What's The Difference?
Now the question that emerges is, does artificially produced ionized alkaline water have the same benefits as that which is found in nature? Here are some top tips to help you understand the difference between the two:
In naturally alkaline water, the raw water is directly obtained from natural sources. The aquifer water or spring passes over or underground through rocks, clay and alluvium from where it picks up its naturally occurring minerals that make the water alkaline and raise the pH. The raw water in artificially produced alkaline water, also known as ionized water is sourced from anywhere. Before it is put through an Ionizer it is usually purified using RO (Reverse Osmosis) which demineralises water.
(Also Read: These Water Purifiers Can Be Great Fit For Your Kitchen)
Ionized alkaline water is first purified through a process called Reverse osmosis. In reverse osmosis, water is purified by using a synthetic lining that helps filter out unwanted molecules, sediments and bacteria. This also removes all the essential healthy minerals in the water. The water is then connected to an alkaline ionizer to artificially raise its pH level. Naturally alkaline water is originally pure and mineral-rich since it comes from a protected natural source. Hence it does not need chemical purification processes like RO and is bottled directly as drawn which helps keep its original minerals and taste intact.
Naturally alkaline water is enriched with citrate minerals directly from the earth. This means that the minerals in this water are naturally produced, and hence have better bioavailability. In ionized alkaline water, tap water or RO water is run over platinum and titanium plates which causes the exchange of ions and makes the water alkaline. During electrolysis, water ionizers split apart water molecules into hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-) with electricity to artificially raise the pH level. These electronic ionizers manipulate the pH to very high levels 8, 9, and 10 and above, however, this high pH is temporary and can decrease over a period of time.
During Reverse Osmosis also known as RO, apart from demineralising and removing the essential minerals in the water, there is nearly 74% of water wastage due to the filters and machines. Nearly 2 litres of water is wasted from every 1 litre of water that is purified using RO. This causes tremendous water wastage and poses major damage to the environment. In naturally alkaline water, not a single drop of water is wasted or rejected.
(Also Read: Types of Water: 7 Different Types of Water And Their Purposes)
Which Is Better - Natural Alkaline Or Ionized Alkaline Water?
Consuming naturally alkaline water is healthy and hydrating. Drinking naturally alkaline water recharges these mineral reserves that you are born with or ingest through your diet. On the other hand, ionized alkaline water tricks your body into thinking it has enough alkalinity. As the alkalinity in this water is artificially produced, it tends to decrease rapidly.
In fact, the World Health Organisation has cautioned against drinking demineralized RO water with a low mineral content - such as those created by artificial means. That's because consuming demineralized or just ionized alkaline water which has no minerals and only a high pH has no positive impact on your health.
It is pretty evident that naturally alkaline water is more beneficial for your health and for the environment and should therefore be preferred as compared to ionized alkaline water. Natural mineral water that is ethically sourced from protected sources, and has a unique mineral composition that makes it alkaline is the best for consumption. Remember it is not just the pH that makes water alkaline, check for the presence of minerals. If it's natural, it's a healthier choice you're making.
Currently, ionized alkaline water sells at Rs.100 and above. Why buy bottled ionized alkaline water when you can install an ionizer at home? Naturally alkaline water cannot be made by a machine and is beneficial for your diet and lifestyle. If you are buying alkaline water, make sure it's naturally alkaline mineral water that helps you live a healthy life and is worth the price.
About Author: Avanti Mehta, India's millennial water specialist having mastered the knowledge and taste of natural alkaline water for a homegrown Natural Mineral Water brand.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.