It’s not easy being a skeptic these days. You think you’ve heard about every conceivable wild theory or crazy fad, and up pops another, like whack-a-mole. After chemtrails, juicing for health, bozos for Bigfoot, crop circles, astrology, climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers…I’m ready for a sanity break. But no, here comes, God help us, alkaline water. Yep, turns out if you’ve been drinking just plain ol’ water all your life, you’ve been doing it all wrong.


Chem 101: Plain water has a pH level close to 7, where pH stands for “potential of hydrogen,” that is, the concentration of hydrogen ions measured on a logarithmic scale. So a liquid with a pH of 5 has ten times as many hydrogen ions as one with pH 6. The more hydrogen ions, the more we say a liquid is acidic; less hydrogen ions, the more alkaline (or basic). 7 is neutral.

The liquids in our bodies have a whole range of pH values. Healthy stomach acid, for instance, has a pH in the 2-3 range. Pee comes out between pH 4 to 8. Blood operates at a narrow healthy range, very close to pH 7.4. The critical point is this: the acidity or alkalinity of one fluid doesn’t affect another. Checking the pH of your pee gives you no information about the pH of your blood. If one fluid gets out of whack, your kidneys and lungs come to the rescue, automatically correcting any imbalance.

So, alkaline water? The claim is that you’ll be healthier if you drink water with a high pH (alkaline) value, and/or eat alkaline foods. Except that the only fluid affected by the acidity or alkalinity of your diet is pee. Everything else is controlled independently of what you ingest. Despite the ubiquitous claim on the “alkaline water” websites that your body is too acidic, a few hundred million of years of evolution have taken care of one’s fluid balance, automatically and painlessly.

This would all be harmless enough if it wasn’t for the likes of naturopath Robert Young with his series of “pH Miracle” books which promote his quack view that acid is the cause of all disease. “He claims that health depends primarily on proper balance between an alkaline and acid environment in the human body, and that an acid environment causes cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, yeast overgrowth, flu, skin disorders, and other diseases.” (Wikipedia)

True, I’m not a doctor, what do I know? Trouble is, neither is Robert Young (who is currently facing a three-year jail sentence for practicing medicine without a license). And unlike Young or the purveyors of alkaline water, the big bucks I make here at LoCO are unalloyed by being pro or con anything. When in doubt what to believe, like I always say, follow the money.