Kangen (Alkaline) Water Myths and Hype
Forum: The Truth in Medicine
- Kangen (Alkaline) Water Myths and Hype
RRR by Hveragerthi
The Truth in Medicin
The following are responses I have written in response to e-mails I have received about alkaline waters. Hopefully this will put the myths of alkaline waters to a rest.
We spoke briefly about alkaline water and I would like to know more about your opposing view on it. The site that I was looking on was:
As for your links, I just read the first one and don't even know where to start with the abundance of mistakes in their claims! I guess I will go one by one from the top.
They claim that you can check your pH with pH paper using saliva. The problem is that your saliva is normally alkaline. This is to wash acids away from foods, or produced by the action of bacteria on sugars, to prevent our teeth from rotting away. So unless you just ate something acidic or have not brushed your teeth after eating something sugary your saliva pH should be alkaline. It does not reflect blood pH.
Next they claim that acidity is "conducive to sickness". This is not necessarily true, and a person can go in to a hyper alkaline state called alkalosis that can be quite dangerous.
Next they claim that cholesterol is an acidic waste product. I don't have clue where they came up with this one. Cholesterol is an integral part of our bodies, and is generated by the body for good reasons. In fact we could not survive without it. Cholesterol is essential for the formation of hormones including estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, prostaglandins, etc. It is also essential for the formation of vitamin D, which helps to protect our bones, and protects us from cancer. Cholesterol is also essential for maintaining cellular membranes, and the myelin sheath that keeps our nerves from short circuiting. The brain is highly dependent on cholesterol for structure and function, and accounts for 30% of the body's cholesterol content. And cholesterol is a healing agent for the body. When we injure an area of the body cholesterol floods the area to help promote healing of the injured tissues. Low levels of cholesterol have been linked to greatly increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, dementia, depression, bone loss, increased cancer risk, etc. I would hardly call this a toxin with its many benefits.
They also call acetic acid an acid waste. The fact is that acetic acid is rapidly metabolized by animals, and so its only found in trace amounts at any given time. And again it serves functions in the body including the formation of cholesterol, fatty acids, glycogen and carbohydrates. It is also involved in acetylation reactions and is required for the formation of proteins throughout the body, including the brain. Again I would not call this a waste as it is essential for our survival.
Uric acid can be considered a waste byproduct, though it is generally eliminated by hydrolysis with water and flushed out as urine. And it does have its beneifts such as being the body's primary antioxidant. In some cases there is a uric acid overload, but this has various causes not related to acidity including hemolytic anemia, hypothyroidism and dehydration. By the way, in their list of alkalinizing foods they list milk, which actually forms acids and contributes to uric acid load due to the high protein content. The uric acid a metabolic byproduct of the breakdown of proteins, which are ammonia based. Ammonia is toxic, and highly alkaline, so the body has to find a way to deal with it. Therefore it is converted to uric acid, hydrolyzed and passed off in urine.
Next they claim that an acidic environment creates a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria, fungi, viruses and even cancer. Again this is a commonly repeated MYTH! For example the reason people get yeast overgrowth after antibiotic use is from the shift of certain tissues going from an slightly acid state to a more alkaline state, which favors yeast growth. Since women experience this most often let's consider vaginal Candida overgrowth after taking antibiotics. The pH of the vagina is normally slightly acidic. This acid is formed primarily by the Lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina which produce lactic acid, benzoic acid and acetic acid; our friends. These acids help control not only yeast overgrowth, but also the overgrowth of many bacteria. When the Lactobacillus bacteria are killed the pH shifts from a slightly acidic environment to an alkaline environment letting the Candida yeast to run amok. The alkalinity actually turns on the Candida growth gene and converts the Candida in to its highly pathogenic fungal form. We actually see the same problem as we age and stomach acidity declines. Stomach acid is actually one of the first lines of defense of our immune systems. The acidity of the stomach helps to prevent pathogens from surviving and infecting us. As stomach acid naturally declines with age we tend to get yeast overgrowth in the stomach and subsequent acid reflux from the fermentation. Also consider infection by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. It secretes highly alkalinizing ammonia to help it survive since it cannot tolerate the normally acidic environment of the stomach. It should also be noted that acetic acid (vinegar) is used to kill bacteria even in mainstream medicine. As for cancer the lactic acid is the byproduct of the cancer, not the cause. As cancer cells metabolize glucose through anaerobic glycolysis lactic acid is formed. And again this byproduct is not dangerous. Instead it is used by the immune system to help fight infections.
Next they claimed that the long term acidity will lead to osteoporosis. They have left a super large hole in this one. First of all the primary cause of osteoporosis is a lack of silica in the tissues, not acidity. The second most common reason for osteoporosis is excess parathyroid hormone (PTH) release. This can occur for several reasons. One is the over consumption of foods high in the mineral phosphorus, found in foods such as milk. This is one of the reasons milk is the leading cause of diet induced osteoporosis. The other common reason is a condition known as hyperparathyroidism, which results from a lack of vitamin D. Here enters our old friend again cholesterol, which is required for vitamin D synthesis by the body. The bones are used as one of the buffering systems for the body, but this is not the primary buffer.
Next they claim that these acids are solidified in the body and deposited in the tissues. The only acids that I can think of that are "solidified' in the body are uric acid, amino acids and essential fatty acids. The uric acid is dangerous if not hydrolyzed as it is sharp and can cause damage to joints and the kidneys. This is not very common though since it is normally avoided by drinking enough water. Amino acids and fatty acids are essential building blocks of our bodies and we would not exist without them.
They also claim that these acids reduce oxygen levels. Again this statement shows their lack of knowledge of how the body works. When we breathe for example there is an exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. If the carbon dioxide is not removed it forms carbonic acid, which is essential to help maintain vascular tone. If we hyperventilate for example we remove so much carbon dioxide from our blood that we will go in to a very alkaline state. But the loss of carbon dioxide will also result in the constriction of blood vessels leading to blood being shunted away from the brain and we pass out. Thus in a healthy person as carbon dioxide builds up our brain tells us to breathe and oxygen levels are brought up and carbon dioxide, and thus carbonic acid are brought down. As another example, when we run there is a buildup of acidic lactate. We breathe heavier when we run to not only provide oxygen for energy production for muscles, but also for the removal of the lactate. When we stop running we no longer require the oxygen for muscle energy production, yet we continue to breathe heavy for a period of time. The reason is that once again the body is removing the build up of lactate. As the lactate levels drop so does our respiration. So the body uses breathing as a means to control acidity. As acidity increases so will our respiration to compensate.
Next is their claim that heart disease and circulatory diseases, blood sugar problems, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer are all related to acidic conditions. This is really misleading. Heart disease and circulatory problems can stem from a number of reasons from high homocysteine levels, blood clots; which can result from injury, estrogens, etc., diabetes, high blood pressure, naturally narrow arteries, varicose veins, etc. Blood sugar problems could mean hypoglycemia or diabetes. Acute hypoglycemia results from a chromium deficiency. Chronic hypoglycemia results from adrenal dysfunction, which generally result from a lack of the acids ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and pantothenic acid, a B vitamin. There can be other rare causes such as taking to much insulin or an oral hypoglycemic or certain herbs. Some rare metabolic disturbances can also lead to hypoglycemia. Type one diabetes is autoimmune and involves the destruction of beta cells through chemicals (bovine insulin, anesthesias, alloxan), or by viral induced autoimmunity. Type 2 diabetes results from a lack of chromium leading to a closing of insulin receptors. In later stages the islet cells can be destroyed by glucose or diabetes medications. Gestational diabetes is a hormone imbalance induced form of diabetes. Fibromyalgia has been linked to low serotonin levels, low magnesium levels, and low levels of malic acid, which is essential for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel for our cells. Another acid, citric acid is also essential for the formation of ATP. Chronic fatigue does not have a specific known cause, but is believed to be autoimmune in some cases. Autoimmune disorders are microbial triggered and involve adrenal dysfunction. And as I already explained acid is a byproduct of cancer, not a cause. So none of the listed conditions are caused from hyperacidity.
The aging process has nothing to do with a thickening of cells as they claim. The process of aging involves deterioration of the ends of the chromosomes, called telomeres. Each time the cell divides the telomeres deteriorate slightly leading to aging. Again nothing to do with trapped toxins. As for the chicken heart experiment if I did not remove the highly toxic and alkaline ammonia from my aquarium my fish would die as well. And they would have died from old age. So their analogy is ridiculous.
Their phosphoric acid claim is also totally ridiculous. First of all phosphoric acid does not cause stones. It can combine with alkaline materials like calcium to form calcium phosphate stones. Here is the kicker though. In order the form kidney stones the urinary pH has to be alkaline with a pH of 7.2. The same would apply to the cells in the body. They call these salts acidic salts and claim they build up in cell "walls" causing them to stiffen. First of all the acidic phosphorus is neutralized by the alkaline calcium yielding a neutral, not acidic salt. Secondly, we are not plant so we do not have cell walls. As with all animals we have cell membranes. The flexibility and nutrient transfer are highly dependent on the level of fatty acids in the cell membranes. These membranes can harden, but this occurs from oxidation not acidity. And as we have seen in order to form these salts the pH must be highly alkaline. So highly alkaline water is not going to remove these salts since there are no cell walls for them to form in. If we had cell walls though then the highly alkaline water could promote the formation of calcium phosphate. So again their claims are false.
As for their claim that the Hunzas do not suffer from osteoporosis they are leaving a lot out. First of all they are a lot more active than most Americans. Bone formation is highly dependent on exercise which stimulates bone formation through the piezoelectric effect. This is why people lose bone density when they do not exercise or cannot put physical stress on the bones. Also the Hunzas get more vitamin D3 through both sun exposure and through diet.
As for their claims on cardiovascular disease, acid has nothing to do with it. Arterial plaque forms in part from damage to the arterial lining, which brings cholesterol to the area to help heal the injury. When the source of injury is not removed the cholesterol continues to flood the area. The most common cause of injury is from high homocysteine levels, which can occur from high homocysteine levels and lack of methylation. High blood pressure and diabetes are a few other common causes. As for the hardening of the cholesterol they mention, this is from calcification, not acidity. In other words the interaction of alkaline calcium with the cholesterol.
As for arthritis there are over 120 forms of arthritis. Gouty arthritis is relatively rare and can occur for various reasons such as medications, dehydration, hemolytic anemia, cancers, and hypothyroidism. Other forms of arthritis have nothing to do with acids. The most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder triggered off by a bacteria and involves adrenal dysfunction. Acidity does not play a role.
As for immune function. Our immune system is highly dependent on a number of acids including lactic, acetic, benzoic and hydrochloric acids. We also need malic and citric acids so these cells can perform properly. And the white blood cells require ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for activation. Then there are the amino acids needed to form the antibodies and white blood cells. Speaking of white blood cells, what about the slightly acidic nucleic acids in white blood cells that contain phosphorus. According to all the propaganda white blood cells should be non-functional, hard as a rock, and unable to absorb nutrients. Then there is pantothenic acid and again ascorbic acid to support the adrenals and thymus glands. This list can go on and on. It should also be noted that the pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes that live inside the human body are adapted to living in the human body and are also killed by extremes in pH.
The role of oxygen in controlling acidity has already been explained. There claim though that energy production simply boils down to oxygen burning hydrogen is incorrect. Energy is dependent on ATP formation, and breakdown. As ATP is broken down phosphorus atoms, which are acidic and they are so against, lead to energy formation in cells. Then phosphorus atoms are added to form new ATP and the cycle continues. When oxygen and hydrogen combine water is formed.
Their next claim is that acids "literally turn off enzymes". If this were the case then how do they explain pepsin, which cannot work without sufficient hydrochloric acid? Not to mention that enzymes are formed from amino acids. And again I wonder how they think white blood cells function since they contain acidic phosphorus and nucleic acids?
Finally, I am not going to address everything they list in the diet, but will rather point out a few mistakes. Potatoes are not alkalinizing, but rather acidic due to the high level of starch (sugar). The skins are alkaline due to the high mineral content, but the question remains what is the ratio of acidic starch to alkalinizing minerals? Milk is full of protein, phosphorus, and sugar (lactose), which are all acidic, not alkaline. Milk consumption is the leading cause of bone loss due to not only the acidity, but also due to the phosphorus content, which leads to excessive parathyroid hormone release. Milk is not a good source of calcium since calcium absorption is blocked by the protein in milk. This is easily proven but would take too long to explain here. Anything high in protein, including cow's and goat's milk, eggs, grains, nuts, and gelatin are all going to form acids. Again the question is will these products provide enough buffering minerals to counter the acidity. In the case of milks and gelatin I would say no since the calcium from milks are not readily absorbed but the acidic phosphorus is. And gelatin is made from demineralized hides, hooves, and bones. Sugars, including honey and raw sugar are in the same boat. The sugars are acidic, the question is if there are enough minerals to balance the acid formation. And many teas are high in tannic acid, which is antioxidant, but it can block the absorption of many nutrients and other herbs. Finally, not all green leafy vegetables are good. Many are rich in oxalic acid, which binds to calcium and can lead to calcium oxalate formation. Spinach, kale, beet leaves, and purslane are some of the worst offenders, especially if cooked. Rhubarb is also a rich source of oxalic acid.
In my opinion the videos are just a lot of misinforming hype. For instance in the first video the guy mentions that exercise leads to obesity from a buildup of acids. If this were the case then marathon runners would all weigh over 300 pounds. The fact is that there a numerous reasons for weight gain, such as hypothalamus disorders, hormones, caloric overload, diabetes, insulin spikes, cortisol, etc. I would not call most acids toxins though. Many of our vitamins, such as vitamin C, are acids. So are various antioxidants like green tea. The building blocks of our body, proteins, are made up of amino acids, which ironically break down in to toxic alkaline ammonia compounds. And one form of lactic acid actually helps to protect us from cancer. I agree that toxins also play a major role in weight gain because what toxins the liver cannot process will have to be stored safely until they can be processed. The primary acids he was referring to though are lactic acid and carbonic acid, which are both readily eliminated by breathing. For example, when we run hard there is an increased need for oxygen to both fuel the cells, and to reduce lactate and exchange with carbon dioxide. When we stop running there is no longer a need for higher oxygen levels for muscle function, yet we continue to breathe heavy for a short period of time. The reason for this is because our bodies are using the oxygen for lactate and carbon dioxide removal. Carbon dioxide will form carbonic acid in reaction with water in our systems. And it serves its own purposes. If we hyperventilate it will reduce our carbonic acid levels quickly putting us in to a highly alkaline state, and we will also be passed out on the floor as blood vessels constrict and blood is pushed away from the brain. I always find it interesting that these companies never mention the dangers of alkalosis. In short, one of the best acid buffers for our bodies is normal deep breathing. It should also be noted that carbon dioxide, which forms carbonic acid in our blood is also essential for the formation of both stomach acid, and the bicarbonate used as a stomach acid and blood acid buffer by the body.
In the second video showing the colonoscopies, if you listen really carefully you will hear that they said that all of these people improved after using this doctor's diet, and also drinking the water. Most people have colon problems because they fail to eat enough fiber, which is essential to build up the flora and to provide silica to maintain tissue integrity. So changing a person's diet to include more fibers will do wonders for their colon health. I really doubt the alkaline water had anything to do with it. Especially considering the fact that the intestinal tract is naturally alkaline regardless of what we eat or drink.
And the claim about being more oxygen rich was the most misleading garbage I saw. The hydroxyl group is not oxygen, even though it contains oxygen. In fact acetic acid (vinegar, CH3COOH) not only contains more oxygen atoms than let's say the calcium hydroxide produced in the alkaline water, but as we see acetic acid also contains a hydroxyl group. This is something these doctors should have learned in their first year of medicine, or at least in high school chemistry where most of us learned this fact. Furthermore, common table sugar contains considerably more oxygen atoms than calcium hydroxide. Yet this does not make it healthy.
They also like to use the sales catch phrase "ionize". What they are not telling people is that this basically means squat. The normal reaction of water and stomach acid leads to an ionization process. You do not need any special water for this. This is a common practice for many companies, especially MLM companies, to find fancy sounding scientific words to throw around to make it sound like their product does something different and special.
I also found it really funny that they are using videos bashing bottled tap water when you need tap water or something similar to produce the alkaline water. Again you need the minerals to form the mineral hydroxides. Purified waters will not work.
As far as the acid water, which is used externally, this is fine. The skin is supposed to be slightly acidic, and we tend to do a lot of damage to our skin using alkaline soaps. This can also promote bacterial growth. Unfortunately neutralizing stomach acid with alkaline waters will also promote microbial overgrowth in the stomach. Especially yeast, which thrives in an alkaline environment. For simple evidence to this just consider why women get yeast infections after taking antibiotics. The Lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina produce beneficial lactic acid, which among other things controls yeast overgrowth. Antibiotics kill off these beneficial bacteria causing vaginal pH to go alkaline and the yeast takes over. By the same token stomach acid is essential to help prevent yeast overgrowth in the stomach, as well as overgrowth of other pathogens. Being that stomach acid naturally declines with age the majority of people are already going to be at higher risk of pathogen overgrowth. This is why the incidence of acid reflux is greater as we age. Acid reflux has a lot to do with microbial fermentation due to microbial overgrowth.
They are right that the water can not be produced with "pure" water because the hydroxides are formed with the minerals in the water. The primary mineral that will be formed in these waters will be calcium hydroxide, a caustic lime solution. What they are not telling people is the caustic nature of mineral hydroxides, and the fact that they are themselves free radicals. For instance from this medical abstract:
Evidence-Based Dentistry (2007) 8, 15–16. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400467
Calcium hydroxide has limited effectiveness in eliminating bacteria from human root canal
When patients undergo root canal treatment, does calcium hydroxide medication eliminate residual bacteria?
"The basic theory behind the use of calcium hydroxide is that endodontic pathogens will be unable to survive in the alkaline environment it creates. Indeed, several studies showed total eradication of several bacterial species commonly found in infected root canals when in direct contact with this treatment.2 Its antimicrobial activity is related to the release of hydroxyl ions in an aqueous environment; these are highly oxidising free radicals that show extreme reactivity with many biomolecules."
Biomolecules would include human cells. This is why hydroxides are so damaging to the tissues. For instance you would not want to drink Red Devil Lye (sodium hydroxide) or Drano (potassium hydroxide) because they would severely burn the skin. Get lime (calcium hydroxide) on your skin with a little moisture and you are going to burn your skin. Take Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) and it causes diarrhea because of chemical burning to the intestinal lining, which also raises the risk of intestinal cancers. Alkaline water are just more dilute versions of some of these caustic hydroxides.
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