Monday, November 19, 2018

Alkaline Water: Beneficial or All Hype?

Both supination and pronation are terms used to describe the rolling motion of the heels and feet during the body’s gait cycle, which takes place as we run or walk. Supination describes the rolling outward motion of the foot, therefore oversupinators don’t roll their root inward enough. Excess supination is also called “underpronation” — since supination is the opposite of pronation of the foot (rolling inward). (1) Both oversupination and overpronation put too much stress on the underneath or outside edges of the foot, often leading to leg pains.

For most adults, too little supination is usually more of a problem than too much, but oversupinating the foot can also lead to complications. Who tends to struggle with supination problems most often? Runners with high arches (the opposite of “flat feet” or collapsed arches) and tight Achilles tendons tend to be underpronators/supinators. (2)

Some of the aches and pains associated with supination abnormalities include: rolling or spraining the ankle, developing “hammertoes” (clawed toes), Achilles tendinitis, running injuries like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome affecting the knees, along with general instability and weakness.

The reason underpronation (or someone with excess supination) causes such an array of problems is that the muscles in the legs and feet become trained to push the foot away from the ground with mostly the outer toes/pinky toes. Considering these are generally weak areas of the feet, they tend to bear more weight and pressure than they can handle, sometimes causing scar tissue to form. Other overuse-injuries can occur, too. You can see why it’s not just the feet that are impacted by supination or related postural problems — but rather these can contribute to muscular compensations that wind up affecting the entire body.
What Is Supination?

Supination (underpronation) is the insufficient inward rolling of the foot after landing on the ground.  Compared to those with “normal,” healthy posture of the lower body, those with oversupination roll the foot outward too much (less than 15 percent of an inward roll when landing). This causes the ankle and only a small portion of the outer toes to absorb shock when the foot hits the ground, often triggering pain in the ankle, foot and lower leg. (3)

As the body moves, in order to accept weight onto one leg and propel forward, a shift in weight must occur at the feet, knees and hips. A natural amount of supination occurs during the push-off phase when propelling forward. Supination helps the heel lift away from the ground which brings the forefoot and toes down to land in a way that moves the body. However too much supination contributes to common running injuries due to instability in the ankles. Weak ankles set the scene for postural problems, as well, like too much pressure applied to susceptible areas of the lower legs and higher risk for spraining. (4)

Preserving proper alignment through the midline of the body, all the way from the head to the toes — by keeping the feet symmetrical and rolling them properly — is crucial for learning normal weight transference which protects the whole body, including the spine.
Causes & Symptoms of Supination Problems

Some of the reasons that people develop abnormalities related to pronation, supination, dorsiflexion and other motions of the feet or legs include:

    Genetics (genetics affect the length of the legs, width of the feet, stability of the ankles and curvature of the foot’s arches, for example)
    Walking on flat, hard surfaces (rather than natural terrain)
    Wearing worn-out shoes, or those that are unsupportive
    Muscular compensations due to poor posture in the legs, sacrum and spine
    Old injuries, including ankles sprains, stress fractures in the legs or tendon tears, which can leave scar tissue behind that causes instability
    Poor form when running or exercising
    Overuse, including exercising too much or standing for long periods
    Limited range of motion and stiffness due to aging
    Loose ligaments or loss of cartilage in the joints of the feet or ankles (such as those of the subtalar joint)
    In some cases, leg discrepancy (legs are different lengths)
    Weakness in the ankles or lower body from too little activity (a sedentary lifestyle)

Here are some common signs that you’re likely an over-supinator (underpronator): (5)

    Frequent ankle sprains
    Pain underneath the feet (in the ball of the foot) or pain often in the ankles
    Clawed toes/hammertoes
    Throbbing or weakness gets worse when running, walking, exercising or standing for a long time
    Dysfunctional musculoskeletal problems in the ankles, calves, outer thighs or knees
    Swelling in the ankle, foot or heel. Sometimes the toes are affected as well and develop calluses or bunions
    Loss of functionality and reduced range of motion in the lower body

Supination vs. Dorsiflexion

    Supination and dorsiflexion are terms related to motion and stability of the feet and ankles (they can sometimes also be applied to other body parts that bend back, like the hands).
    Deviations (abnormal amounts) of ankle supination or dorsiflexion are usually used to describe form and postural problems that cause common running injuries when the foot strikes the ground. These can include injuries like: plantar fasciitis or shin splints, runner’s knee, heel spurs, and Achilles tendon pains, among others.
    While supination describes the outward rolling motion of the foot, dorsiflexion describes the bending backward of the foot. Dorsiflexion decreases the angle between the foot and the ankle; in other words it means the toes are lifting up and away from the ground, toward the ankle/body. (6)
    Proper dorsiflexion is also needed to bring the knees over the ankles, such as when bending over, squatting or jumping forward.
    Abnormal dorsiflexion, or backward flexion of the foot, is a common problem related to not only running injuries but those caused during other sports/exercises. Proper mobility of the ankle is crucial for allowing the body to propel forward, especially when jumping, sprinting or running quickly.
    Without enough ankle dorsiflexion, it’s also hard to sustain proper form when performing resistance training using the knees, such as squatting or lifting weights. The torso can’t remain vertical due to stiffness in the ankles (too little dorsiflexion), therefore you can’t keep a neutral spine. The knees can also cave in, which adds stress to the back.
    On the other hand, too much dorsiflexion is also problematic. Stability is equally important in the ankles, because too much motion due to weakness in the muscles and joints of the feet can contribute to ankle rolling or spraining, along with symptoms of runner’s knee.

Conventional Treatments for Supination Problems (Underpronation)

If your orthopedic, physical therapist, trainer or another doctor sees signs of abnormal supination or dorsiflexion in your feet, they will likely recommend improving your form and wearing more supportive shoes with inserts. Changing your sneakers/shoes when exercising is usually the first step, which makes orthotics even more effective.

Orthotic inserts used in sneakers or shoes consist of arch support and sometimes a lifted heel to control the rolling-forward motion of the foot. They can take pressure off the small toes, and help stabilize the ankle. This is beneficial for protecting the knees and back during movements such as running or lifting weights. Consider using orthotics if your doctor thinks they might be helpful for improving comfort during standing for long periods, for low back pain relief or for reducing heel pain. In the case that pain becomes very bad, you may also want to take an anti-inflammatory medication temporarily (such as over-the-counter ibuprofen) to decrease swelling and tissue/joint inflammation in the feet or ankles. (Of course, adding in anti-inflammatory foods and natural painkillers are options, too.)

Depending on how severe your supination problem is, your doctor might also recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy can “reteach” your muscles and joints how to distribute your weight in a healthier way, starting from your feet upward, allowing you to sustain proper form all the way through your sacrum, pelvis and spine.
5 Natural Ways to Create Proper Supination
1. Fix Your Form

Here are some tips for helping you to correct your stance, which is the groundwork for learning proper running/walking form. Proper form and posture through the spine are especially important when adding extra pressure or weight to the feet, such as when you’re lifting weights or sprinting very fast.

    When running or walking fast, aim to lower the feet with a soft landing. Some try to image “running on eggshells” or attempting to run on water. Remain light on your feet instead of pounding the feet too hard onto the ground.
    Focus on landing closer to your midfoot, rather than at the back of the heel. Try to land with a mostly flat foot, attempting to avoid too much curving of the toes inward or outward, or landing too much to the side of the foot).
    Slightly increase your cadence and potentially shorten your stride to keep proper form in the feet and legs.
    Run with upright posture through your back and stay relaxed.

2. Stretch to Loosen Tight Muscles (Including the Ankles)

Supinators should do extra stretching for the calves, hamstrings, quads, and iliotibial band (basically the whole leg). Gently stretching/mobilizing muscles in the legs helps break up adhesions and allows you to sustain proper form more easily. (7) Stretching the ankles can also improve dorsiflexion, or ankle mobility/stability. Studies have found that people with reccurent ankle sprains can benefit significantly from performing weight-bearing exercises and stretches of the ankles/low body. (8)

Many soft tissue therapists and physical therapists recommend starting any activity by massaging sore feet, loosening the ankles and stretching tight calves. And since weak, stiff ankles are often one of the major contributing factors that cause supination problems, you can also add some of these leg stretches to your regular workouts:

    Use a foam roller on the floor, positioning your body on top so the roller is under your calves, then moving back and forth gently. You can practice the same on the back or sides of the calves too. Roll the area and hold tender spots for 30 to 60 seconds, repeating up to five times every day. This should be done right before stretching.
    Try massaging the fascia (soft tissue) in the underpart of the feet with a tennis ball under the foot, as you roll around while applying mild pressure.
    Get into pushup position, then walk your feet forward slightly to come onto the balls of your feet (holding an upside down “V” with your body). Lift the heels away from the ground as you balance on the balls of your feet, then lower them back down again. Repeat about 10 times, more than once a day if you’d like.
    As you lay on your back, lift the legs in the air and flex the ankles back and forth. Or make small circles (turning toes towards your body and away). Repeat for several minutes.
    Place your toes up against a wall, tilting the toes back towards the body. This releases the ankles and opens up the calves.
    Use a resistance band (also known as exercise band) wrapped around the ankle to gently pump and improve ankle flexibility. (9)
    Do basic heel raises by raising and lowering your heels and toes to the ground, then back up. Do 10 to 15 at a time. Try using a step if you’d like.
    Sitting up on one shin, bend the opposite knee and slowly bring the knee past the ankle, rocking the knee back and forth to improve dorsiflexion.
    Stand with straight legs and bend forward from the waist to touch the floor or shins. This helps stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You can also keep your legs wide apart with toes facing outward slightly to loosen the inner leg and hamstrings.

3. Strengthen the Leg Muscles for More Support

Strength-building leg exercises to help reduce muscular weakness in the ankles and calves include:

    Squats — All types of squats require proper mobility and stability in the ankles (dorsiflexion) but also increase strength in just about every part of the legs. Try basic squats, or squatting while lifting weight overhead. Keep the tailbone tucked and core tight to protect the back.
    Lunges — Side lunges, lunge dips or lunge twists.
    Crab crawls — Bend your knees and bring your hands behind you, squatting down in front of your arms. Use your hands on the ground to help you stretch the ankles back and forth to increase range of motion. You can stay in this position while stretching the heels and toes.
    Calf raises — Perform gentle calf raises by lifting your heel off the floor, then reversing and lifting/pointing the toes toward the ceiling. Make sure you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 30 seconds, three times per leg.
    Doing any type of burst-training, HIIT workouts or sprints (good for the whole lower body)

4. Wear the Right Shoes (Not Worn-Out Sneakers!)

Podiatrists usually recommend more flexible, lightweight sneakers for underpronators, especially those who spend lots of time on their feet (including runners or those who do lots of brisk walking). Lightweight shoes can withstand more motion of the ankle while still supporting the feet, especially those with flexible inner edges. For people with wobbly, weak ankles, higher-top sneakers that stabilize the ankles might be a better choice.

Signs of underpronation/supination will show up in your sneakers or shoes, usually causing the outer edge of the shoe to become flimsy more quickly. Replace your sneakers regularly, especially if you exercise or run often. To see if you’re due for a new pair, place your shoes down on a flat surface and look for the outer edge to tilt outward. In addition to wearing the right shoes, consider using some of these inserts:

You may also want to consider easing into barefoot running — a phenomena growing in popularity amongst those with recoccurent running injuries. Running barefoot may seem even riskier than wearing the wrong sneakers, but it actually helps the feet learn proper form more easily, builds strength throughout the ankles and feet, and helps increase natural range of motion (supination and dorsiflexion).
5.  Begin Exercise Gradually & Rest to Prevent Injuries

If you’re new to more vigorous types of exercising — such as running, hiking or walking uphill — or spending more time on your feet, try to keep these tips in mind:

    Aways warm up with a dynamic stretch (described above). Loosening the ankles and calves is most important.
    Set a goal to practice consistently, but give yourself rest in between to avoid adding too much stress to connective tissue. If your feet, ankle or leg muscles become too fatigued or swollen, you’ll be more likely to develop scar tissue and fall into improper form.
    Incorporate burst training and cross-train using different exercises to strengthen all over, instead of only certain leg muscles.
    Choose the right sneakers and shoes. (I can’t stress this enough.)
    Watch out for uneven or hard surfaces that may be making your form and foot pain worse.
    Listen to your body. Take time off if pain worsens and spreads up the legs.
    After workouts, icing, massaging your calves and feet, plus foam rolling are simple ways to recover and help prevent swelling and tightness.

Precautions When Treating Supination

If foot/ankle pain gets worse and lasts for more than several days, or you find that the exercises above don’t help prevent ankle rolling, talk to a doctor about correcting your stance with orthotics. Always be careful when beginning any new exercise program, watch out for signs of inflammation and overuse and consider seeing a therapist who specializes in soft tissue therapies if supination/dorsiflexion is an ongoing problem.
Final Thoughts on Supination

    Supination and pronation are terms used to describe the rolling motion of the heels and feet as we run or walk forward. Supination describes the rolling outward motion of the foot, while pronation describes the rolling inward. Excess supination is also called “underpronation,” a less common problem compared to overpronation.
    Signs and symptoms of oversupinating include ankle, leg or heel pain; frequent rolling/spraining of the ankles, calf weakness and tightness, reduced range of motion when exercising or lifting weights and loss of functionality.
    Natural ways to improve supination include exercising and stretching the ankles, calves and lower body; wearing proper shoes/sneakers; using proper shoe inserts (orthotics); and correcting your form when running.
Who doesn’t want a great booty? The answer is pretty much no one, but as you test out different butt workouts in your quest for the perfect butt, you may find yourself wondering, “Am I wasting my time? Are great butts born or made?” The good news is even if you weren’t blessed with the genetic code for a perfect backside, you can tap in to my targeted butt workouts to build the best butt of your life, no matter what your age.

But first, let’s explore a little booty background. The “glutes” are formed by the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles, and are superimposed by a layer of fat. This large muscle group impacts everything from bending over and standing back up to maintaining posture. The buttocks are pretty important, since they allow us to sit upright without needing to rest our weight on our feet as four-legged animals do.

The glutes play a vital role in stabilizing the pelvis, and weak glutes (sometimes associated with too much sitting) can result in decreased stabilization and control, setting you up for pain and injuries. In fact, many doctors and physical therapists focus on strengthening the glutes to improve lower body movement and even to reverse lower back pain. (1, 2)

Now that we have some understanding of purpose, let’s get back to the question, “Are great butts born or made?” The truth is it’s a little bit of both.

Though there are surgical ways to improve the aesthetics of the butt, I never recommend surgery for this purpose. While many people — mostly females between the ages of 20 and 50 years old — wish to remodel their buttocks, the great news is you transform your backside without surgery. (3) The key? Adopt proven butt workouts that consist of gluteal-specific and leg workouts. Combine that with a healthy, whole food-based diet, and you’ll be on your way to a great butt that will last.
The 5 Best Butt Exercises

Try to do these butt workouts in my program three to four times per week. Perform each exercise for 45–60 seconds, with a 15-second break between each exercise. For beginners, perform two rounds; for advanced exercisers, perform three to four rounds. Take a 60-second break between each round.

1. Romanian Deadlift

The deadlift is a great exercise for the butt, but like all other exercises, it must be done with proper form to prevent injury. First, choose a weight, either hand weights or a barbell, that’s slightly challenging but not too heavy so you’re able to properly perform the exercise. Start with the barbells or hand weights in your hands just outside your thighs. Feet are hip distance apart. Knees are slightly bent. Hips are slightly tucked.

Starting at the top, lower the upper body while keeping the chest proud and sticking the butt back. Keep the back flat (do not hunch the back). Lower to about mid-shin or just below the knees, then slowly raise back to the standing upright position. Repeat 10–20 times. As you get stronger, you can increase the weight, but be careful to not overdo it.

2. Sumo Squats

We all love the squat. Well, Chelsea and I do, and you will, too, when you see its butt-lifting benefits just in time for summer. To perform the sumo squat, stand with feet a little further than hip distance apart and toes pointed out at about 10 and 2 o’clock. You can do this with a hand weight, kettlebell or with no weight. In either case, hold your weight, or just your hands, in front of you at about chin level. Make sure to keep good form by maintaining your upper body in an upright position.

Bend at the knees, pushing your butt back while squatting as if sitting in a chair, while holding your your hands or weight in front of you but close to the body. If you are able, squat to where your thighs are at a 90-degree angle to the floor, like a sumo wrestler. If not, just go about halfway. Over time, you will get stronger and be able to perform a deep squat.

If you choose to hold weight while performing this exercise, select a weight that provides a little challenge but doesn’t cause you to have poor form.

Advanced: Lift one knee as you stand up and out of the squatting position, alternating sides.

3. Hip Raises (Optional with Weight)

I love this exercise because it has little to no impact yet packs a powerful glute-building result. It focuses on both the quads and hamstrings, helping to lift the butt!

With your feet hip distance apart, lie on the floor or a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, slowly lift yourself up into a bridge pushing the hips up toward the ceiling as you drive through the heels of your feet. Tighten the abs, glutes and hamstrings during the movement. Lift your hips all the way up into a bridge as high as you can and hold for a five to 10 seconds. As you exhale, lower back down slowly. Start with 10–12 repetitions, and work up to as many as 30.

Advanced: Place a weight or barbell across your lower abdomen.

4. Squat Jumps

This move incorporates the traditional squat but with a jump to better engage the glutes, quads and calves. You’ll definitely feel the burn.

Start with your feet just hip distance apart with your toes slightly turned out to about 10 and 2 o’clock. Go into a low squat while taking your hands to the floor between the feet. Then jump up while reaching up toward the ceiling. When you land, take it back down to a low squat position with the hands on the floor. Repeat for 10–20 reps. For beginners, you can leave out the jump.

5. Donkey Kicks

This exercise has long stood the test of time and activates those deep glute muscles. Get on all fours with your toes curled under, feet flexed and back flat. Pull the abs in to help maintain posture and alignment. Place your knees directly under your hips, and place your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep the legs about hip-distance apart. Maintain a 90-degree bend in the right leg during the entire exercise.

Slowly begin taking the right heel up toward the ceiling, keeping the foot flexed. Lift the leg as high as you can go while maintaining your posture. Avoid arching your back, and keep the other leg in proper vertical alignment. Once lifted, hold for three seconds, then return the right knee to the mat and repeat for 12–30 reps on each side.

Advanced: Place a weight at the back of the knee and squeeze, holding on to the weight using your leg while lifting.

4 Butt Workouts to Sneak Into Your Day

1. Take the Stairs

While the elevator is convenient and sometimes gets you there faster, have you considered using the stairs wherever you go? Whenever I travel and stay at a hotel, I always take the stairs. By using your legs and your glutes with each step, you engage those muscles and most certainly raise your heart rate. Of course, going up the stairs provides the most benefits, but going down can also help by working different muscles. 

2. Go for a Walk

Walking is one of the best things you can do and something most people can manage to do every day. Your glutes will definitely reap the benefits of regular walking, as well as other muscles in the legs and core. I like to wear my GPS watch or other fitness tracker so I can track my distance and pace. It’s important to have good posture, and you can engage your abs and glutes while walking. With practice, you can walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Take Up Cycling or Do a Spin Class

Cycling not only cranks up your heart rate, but it tones and builds the glute muscles, especially if you take it uphill. If you cycle outdoors, find areas where you can cycle uphill in the heaviest gear you can handle, and do hill repeats — meaning go up the hill, come back down and repeat. You can do them seated or standing, though standing is more difficult. Either way, if on a stationary bike at the gym or at home, you need to increase the tension on the gear to mimic a steep hill.

4. Sprint It Out

Sprints are great to engage those glute muscles. Try incorporating an easy 10- to 15-minute warm-up jog followed by sprints — either on a track or flat road — into your routine. The sprints can be anywhere from 25 meters to 400 meters (a quarter mile), depending on your level of fitness. Just make sure you are warmed-up first.
5 Benefits of a Toned Butt and Strong Glutes

1. Reduce the Risk of Injury

Studies show that weight-bearing exercises — including bodyweight exercises — improve the muscle function of the glutes and can reduce injury in athletes. One study shows the effects of strong glute muscles in swimmers verses non-swimmers, indicating that the swimmers with the stronger gluteal muscles enjoyed a lower risk of injury. (4, 5)

2. Improved Athletic Performance

Because the glutes are responsible for helping our bodies move faster, slow down, change direction and create explosive jumping moves, strong glute muscles are critical in most sports. But you can’t just rely on squats to built strong glutes. Instead, you need to stimulate your backside muscles in different ways.

Sprinting is one of the most effective exercises for simulating the glutes and activates 234 percent more of the gluteus maximus muscle than a vertical jump. Athletes with strong glutes are faster, more efficient and explosive in their movements compared to athletes with weaker glutes. (6)

3. Better Support for the Back

Research shows that stronger gluteal muscles can help prevent back injury and back pain. Strengthening your glutes can greatly decrease the risk of back pain, too. Some of the exercises mentioned, such as the deadlift and squat, ultimately take some of the pressure off your lower back. (7)

4. Less Knee, Hamstring and Groin Injuries

Developing strong glutes not only helps prevent back injury and pain, but it can also lower your risk for injury in the knees, hamstring and groin areas. By strengthening your weak glutes, you help improve hip alignment, which could improve knee pain, too. In fact, many butt workouts are also effective knee strengthening exercises. Runners notoriously suffer from patellar knee pain due to hips overcompensating for weak glutes. Furthermore, weak glutes may also contribute to pulled muscles in your hamstring or groin.

5. Nicer Visual Appearance with the Reduction in Cellulite

I have shared a lot of information about cellulite reduction, including the benefits of dry-brushing. Usually fluid retention, lack of circulation, weak collagen structure and increased body fat result in the annoying cellulite that most often shows up in spots like the legs, butt, stomach and back of the arms.

Naturally, butt exercises, leg exercises and a smart whole foods-based diet help decrease body fat, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite on the skin. Burst training exercises, similar to interval training, HIIT workouts and Tabata workouts, are great routines that you can add to your butt-lifting program and also work as natural remedies for cellulite.
Butt Workout Precautions

If you’re a beginner, never use added weight without the supervision of a fitness professional. If you have a heart condition or are taking medication, please consult with your physician before engaging in any new exercise program.
Final Thoughts on Butt Workouts

Having a great butt is partially genetic, but science-backed exercises can help whip your butt into shape regardless of your genes. In addition, there are many reasons to strengthen your butt that span far beyond beauty. Weak gluteal muscles can actually lead to chronic low back pain and even knee pain and injury. Butt workouts help strengthen your entire kinetic chain, diminish the appearance of cellulite and reduce your risk of injury, so remember to keep the following in mind:

    The five best butt workouts are Romanian deadlifts, sumo squats, hip raises, squat jumps and donkey kicks.
    Four other butt workouts you can sneak into your day include taking the stairs, taking a walk, taking up cycling or trying a spin class and sprinting.
    The benefits of a toned butt and strong glutes include reducing the risk of injury, better athletic performance, improved support for the back, enhanced appearance and reduced cellulite.
Alkaline water has gained rapid popularity in recent years among everyone from health enthusiasts to professional athletes, whether they’re following an alkaline diet or just trying to get more out of their hydration. In fact, NBA superstars like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are some of the most well-known alkaline water aficionados, with reports claiming that certain pro players get more than half a dozen alkaline water bottle cases shipped to their home every single month. (1a)

It’s true that your body’s pH plays a big role in overall health, and the standard American diet is typically filled with refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, excess sodium, high-fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, pesticides, synthetic hormones and ultra-processed foods that can all contribute to low-grade acidosis, or an overproduction of acid in the blood, fostering an environment where disease can thrive.

Some claim that alkaline water — or high pH water — is the best water to drink when it comes to health, citing a long list of potential alkaline water benefits from enhanced weight loss to resistance against cancer. But does this popular beverage live up to the hype, or is it just another fad used to target health-conscious consumers? Let’s break down the debate and find the truth.
What Is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water is a type of water with a higher pH than regular water and negative negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP), and the best type is naturally alkaline spring water. (1b) This is a measure of acidity — a low pH level indicates a more acidic substance while a higher pH is more alkaline. Too many hydrogen ions means less oxygen is available to the cells, resulting in higher acidity when pH drops. Fewer hydrogen ions mean more oxygen is available, leading to a more alkaline, or basic, state. There is no known disease that can survive in an alkaline state.

Because it has a higher pH level, alkaline ionized water is supposedly more beneficial than your basic tap water. It typically clocks in with a pH level around 8 or 9 while the pH of water is usually closer to 7.0 or less. It’s also said that alkaline water offers more key minerals the body needs to function properly, such as calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium.

On average, your pH levels should be approximately a 7.365 for the blood on a scale between 0–14, leaving the blood at a 60/40 alkaline-to-acid ratio.

Alkaline compounds buffer acids in the blood with four main alkaline minerals — calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium — which work together to keep the body healthy and running properly.

    Calcium strengthens our bones and supports a healthy circulatory system.
    Magnesium helps convert our food into energy and works to maintain muscle, nerves, heart and kidney function.
    Sodium controls blood pressure, balances fluids in the body and influences muscle movement.
    Potassium helps maintain muscle relaxation and contraction, which is extremely important around the heart, and also aids in digestion and fluid elimination.

The body works hard to naturally keep the blood tipping toward an alkaline state and will take from stored reserves whenever necessary to keep it balanced.
The Alkaline Water Debate

Unfortunately, research is limited on the potential alkaline water benefits. Not only that, but many sources blindly throw out unsubstantiated claims in an effort to sell products like expensive alkaline water filter systems rather than providing evidence-based health information to consumers.

That being said, those in favor of alkaline water over acidic water claim that it provides a range of health benefits. Namely, that it boosts the metabolism, slows bone loss, reverses aging and improves the absorption of nutrients by neutralizing acid in the blood that causes disease. They believe low-grade acidosis may not always be detected with testing, leaving your body to suffer the silent consequences.

The opposing side, on the other hand, agrees there might be benefits, but it is unclear whether the alkaline water benefits come from the high pH level of the water itself or the minerals it contains. Their warning to all? Be leery of health claims that may sound too good to be true, and keep in mind that all alkaline waters and alkaline water ionizer systems are not made equal. You want to get the best alkaline water and water ionizers you can.

It’s complex to alkalize the body and all of its organs, and there are difficulties around pH balance. If the root cause is unknown, opponents remind us, drinking alkaline water might not be the answer to your low pH levels. Plus, the human body wasn’t created to live in a constant alkaline state.

Remember that 60/40 ratio that was mentioned earlier? Consuming high alkaline water on a continual basis can disrupt your body’s delicate pH balance, becoming detrimental to your health.
Alkaline Water vs. Structured Water vs. Regular Water vs. Mineral Water

These days, there are plenty of options in the bottled water section of your local supermarket. Once limited to regular drinking water, there are now a wide assortment of water varieties available, ranging from alkaline water to structured water and mineral water.

Regular bottled water typically contains purified water, which is made of tap water that has been filtered through a process called reverse osmosis, which removes impurities and microorganisms. Trace amounts of minerals are found in this form of water, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Purified water generally has an acidic or neutral pH of 7.0 or below. (2)

Mineral water, on the other hand, comes from a mineral spring and typically contains a variety of minerals like salts and sulfur compounds. It’s available in both still and sparkling varieties, classified based on whether or not it contains added carbon dioxide gases. Like alkaline water, it can help supply important minerals to the diet that may be beneficial for health. (3)

Meanwhile, structured water is a type of water that hasn’t been filtered or processed, making it virtually identical to the water that’s found in nature. It’s believed to hold a higher amount of energy and is said to be “optimally charged,” helping our cells to function more efficiently. Much like alkaline water, it’s said to have an optimal pH and is claimed to benefit everything from energy levels to digestion and mood. Just like alkaline water, however, research is still limited on how much of an effect structured water may have on health.

Alkaline water - Dr. Axe

5 Alkaline Water Benefits

    Improves Circulation
    Reduces Acid Reflux Symptoms
    Increases Hydration
    Regulates Blood Sugar
    May Promote Bone Health

1. Improves Circulation

Some research suggests that alkaline water may improve circulation, allowing blood to flow more easily through your body to deliver oxygen and important nutrients to your tissues. It’s believed to work by reducing the viscosity, or the thickness of the blood, helping it move through the bloodstream more efficiently.

This was demonstrated in a 2016 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that gave 100 healthy adults either regular water or alkaline water to rehydrate after a strenuous workout. Interestingly, those who drank alkaline water experienced a 6.3 percent decrease in blood thickness compared to just a 3.36 percent drop in viscosity in those who drank regular water. (4)
2. Reduces Acid Reflux Symptoms

Acid reflux, also known as GERD, is a condition in which acid moves back up through the esophagus, causing acid reflux symptoms like belching, bloating and nausea. Pepsin, the enzyme responsible for breaking down proteins, plays a key role in acid reflux and can trigger symptoms.

Alkaline water may have a beneficial effect on neutralizing pepsin to reduce symptoms. One in vitro study out of the Voice Institute of New York demonstrated that drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 helped deactivate pepsin, potentially providing therapeutic benefits for those suffering from acid reflux. (5)

However, it’s important to keep in mind that blocking pepsin acts as a temporary bandage to the real underlying problem, similar to the effect of antacids. While alkaline water may help provide relief from symptoms, it may not actually treat the root of the acid reflux itself.
3. Increases Hydration

Staying well-hydrated is crucial to overall health and wellness. Getting enough water regulates your body temperature, helps transport nutrients and aids in waste removal.

Alkaline water is believed to enhance hydration even more than standard drinking water. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine showed that drinking alkaline water for two weeks not only increased alkalinity in the blood and urine, but also improved hydration status to a greater degree than those drinking regular water. (6)
4. Regulates Blood Sugar

Sustaining high levels of blood sugar can take a big toll on your health, with side effects ranging from increased thirst, headaches and fatigue to more serious, long-term consequences like impaired vision and nerve damage.

Although research is limited, some preliminary research has found that alkaline water may help balance blood sugar to maintain normal blood sugar levels and promote better health. One six-month study in China showed that drinking alkaline water significantly reduced blood sugar levels to normal range in participants. (7) An animal model conducted at Dongduk Women’s University’s Department of Obesity Management at the Graduate School of Obesity Science and published in Life Sciences also found that alkaline water had anti-diabetic effects, reporting that it reduced blood sugar and improved glucose tolerance in mice. (8)
5. May Promote Bone Health

A highly acidic diet has been shown to increase bone loss by upping the excretion of calcium through the urine. An alkaline diet, on the other hand, can prevent bone resorption to help preserve bone health. (9)

Some studies suggest that alkaline water may help keep bones strong by influencing certain hormones that affect bone metabolism. One study out of the Centre of Bone Diseases at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland composed of 30 women, for instance, showed that drinking alkaline water decreased levels of parathyroid hormone, which causes bones to release calcium into the blood. Not only that, but it also lowered levels of a biomarker used to measure the rate of bone turnover as well. (10)
Alkaline Water Recommendations

Although some promising studies have found positive effects of alkaline water on health, many of these are small studies with significant limitations that can make it hard to definitively determine how much benefit alkaline water may really bestow.

As with all things in life, balance is key when it comes to alkaline water. While it may come with some alkaline water benefits, following a healthy, nutrient-rich diet filled with lots of whole foods and fresh fruits and veggies is still the best way to maintain a proper pH balance and keep you healthy. In the end, alkaline water cannot replace the array of essential nutrients that your body needs from food.

Also, an overabundance of alkaline water and foods over long periods of time can not only cause alkalosis, throwing your body off-balance and leading to serious health problems, but also inhibit production of pepsin, compromising the stomach’s ability to break down food and proteins.

Adding more fresh fruits and veggies like apples, lemons, limes, leafy greens and carrots into your diet is a simple way to keep your pH in check while also promoting better overall health.

If you still want to include alkaline water in moderation in your diet, that’s totally fine. But before you start searching for the best alkaline water brands or go splurge on a pricy alkaline water machine, keep in mind that you can also try making it at home. There are plenty of directions available for how to make alkaline water, which typically include adding ingredients like baking soda or lemon to your water.

As always, though, be sure to pair your alkaline water with a well-balanced diet and a healthy and active lifestyle to reap the most rewards when it comes to your health.

Going overboard on the alkaline water may throw off your body’s delicate pH balance, leading to serious health problems like alkalosis. This can cause alkaline water side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, tremors and confusion.

Drinking alkaline water regularly can also deactivate the activity of pepsin, impairing your ability to break down proteins efficiently. It may also interfere with the natural acidity of stomach acid, which is responsible for killing off bacteria and pathogens to keep your body healthy.

If you do decide to drink alkaline water, keep your intake in moderation and be sure to couple it with a healthy, well-rounded diet and regular physical activity to keep your body in tip-top condition. As always, if you have any concerns, be sure to consult with your doctor or a trusted health professional.

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