For as long as I can remember, I've always had a love-hate relationship with drinking water.
I've always had to make the conscious effort to drink water – it wasn't something I was ever programmed to do, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. Growing up, not many adults around me pushed the "drinking water" agenda. I don't want to dive into the learned unhealthy eating (and drinking) habits that plagues the black community but I kind of picked up this lack of water drinking from home and have always been on the mission to change it.
However, years later, I am finding myself in a bit of a conundrum as I address my water drinking habits: should I buy whatever water is on sale or should I buy the "superior" water because I look forward to drinking it? In my broke college days, the obvious answer was get whatever is on sale. Now that I have a little bit less of a strong hold on my money, the question is, should I spend more on water that I prefer (and promises to benefit me more)?
Through some pre-grocery shopping research, I found this now eye-opening chart of the pH levels of various waters on the market:
I wasn't 100% sure what these pH levels meant, but it dawned on me that those "expensive" waters that I've always favored all had pH levels of 7 or higher, which is considered alkaline. That fact that all the waters that I prefered were alkaline intrigued me to dig a little deeper into this whole alkaline water thing.
By definition, alkaline means "having the properties of an alkali, or containing alkali; having a pH greater than 7." pH level pertains to how acidic or alkaline a substance is. When water is alkaline, although it can naturally occur in nature, for most bottled water, the end result is replicated through a chemical process called electrolysis.
Here are the pH levels of my 3 favorite bottled water brands:
- Core - 7
- Fiji - 7.5
- Essentia - 9.5
There are a few claimed health benefits of alkaline water but there is little to no scientific research to show they are actually real. Some of the alleged benefits of alkaline water include:
- Superior and quicker hydration compared to regular water
- Immune system boosting properties (neutralizing the body's acidity due to poor diet, stress and toxins)
- Slowing down the process of aging with antioxidants (alkaline water is rich in antioxidants)
- Improved skin health
I decided the only way for me to really know if these claims were true was to drink alkaline water for two weeks and see for myself.
Through my research, I found that Essentia was the most alkaline water on the market. For this experiment, I drank primarily Essentia water, so it may be possible that's a major factor in my results. In my local convenience store, one 33 ounce bottle of Essentia water would typically cost me $3. In the past, I've also bought 6 bottles from Target for about $10.99. As I mentioned, I preferred the taste of high pH level water like Essentia, so I was open to spending the extra cash.
By day 3, I was drinking two-three 33.8oz bottles of Essentia water a day. Here's what I experienced during the two weeks that I drank alkaline water:
I did not lose weight.
Let's just get that out the way. I didn't magically get snatched or shed water weight drinking bottles of alkaline water everyday. It would probably take much more time and some cleaning up of my diet in order to experience these kind of results from drinking alkaline water.
However, I did feel and look less bloated.
To some, this may be just as good as actually losing weight. After week one, I did feel like I looked slimmer. Even during my period, when I usually feel as big as a house, my stomach wasn't bulging. I was very happy about that.
My skin did not magically clear up.
Many people think that drinking alkaline water (and a ton of water period) is the magical answer to clear skin but it's not. At least from my experience, my skin still was having minor breakouts and congestion on the right side of my face as it usually tends to. My skin was less problematic during my period but drinking alkaline water did not save me from hormonal breakouts. It wasn't as bad as it had been in the past but I've also been putting more effort into my skincare as of late with the major changes in weather.
Also, drinking a ton of alkaline water did not magically hydrate my skin. Though my skin this time of year has the tendency to be much worse than it is now, I still had to load up on moisturizer to keep my skin hydrated in freezing NYC weather. However, my lips, which usually show the first signs of dehydration, were very hydrated this time of the year. This was a shocker to me and might be because of the alkaline water.
Surprising to me, my menstrual cramps were significantly reduced.
This wasn't something that I was expecting. Usually when my period is coming, I can tell a few days to a week before because I usually have cramps and backaches. It's been that way for as long as I can remember, and for the first time, I couldn't clock my cycle. The Essentia water is loaded with electrolytes, which have been known to ease period cramps. Alkaline water is made through electrolysis or adding electrolytes to water, so I'm confident that drinking so much alkaline water around my period helped ease my pains.
My energy levels have increased without feeling the need for caffeine.
Usually in order to get through the madness of the day, I have to have coffee, tea, or even a Red Bull first thing in the morning and throughout the day to survive. Once I started getting in the habit of drinking alkaline water, I didn't feel the "need" for caffeine and drastically decreased my intake without struggling to be productive.
My urge for sugary drinks decreased.
This probably was my favorite result for this experiment. Over the summer time, I became a chronic soda and juice drinker (thanks to the plethora of brunches and happy hours). It's been hard to curb my craving for sugary drinks but upping my water intake has helped tremendously. In fact, by week two, I found myself thinking about reaching for water before sugary drinks. I was only planning on doing this for two weeks but considering it usually takes 21 days or more to break a bad habit, I'm going to continue drinking alkaline water until drinking water is second nature and not a forced act.
My final thoughts on drinking alkaline water:
Though I didn't experience all the benefits that people attribute to drinking alkaline water, I'm very happy with the things it did do. My lips haven't been chronically dry as they usually are when temperatures go below 40 in New York. It was also nice finding that it "cured" my menstrual cramps without me having to result to medication. Alkaline water will definitely be heavy in my diet around my period for this reason. Lastly, I haven't reached for my morning coffee as much, which may have been the most surprising result yet.
If you can afford to drink alkaline water regularly and enjoy it, go for it. Buying it bottled of course is the easiest way to drink it but you can also add baking soda to regular water to alkalize it or purchase alkaline drops to alkalize water at home, I would recommend having bottled alkaline water strictly for on the go so you won't be emptying your pockets on bottle water.
Although regular water is considered best for most people, due to my personal taste preferences, drinking alkaline water is ideal for me. It has significantly helped me increase my water intake because I genuinely prefer the taste. I only intended on doing this for a couple of weeks for this experiment, but I'm so happy with my results, I'm making drinking alkaline water an official lifestyle change.
Disclosure: In order to conduct this experiment to the best of my ability, I reached out to Essentia Water to provide a two-week supply of alkaline water. The experiment was initiated by myself and these are my honest results.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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