Alkaline Water: What You Must Know About This H2O
Image Credit: Glass of alkaline water, Image Source: Freepik

I was among many patients who suffered typical acid reflux more often. Of course, the causative factors may be different, and so are the treatments. But one thing that several health experts suggested was including alkaline water. One dot connected to the other and led me to several discussions about this H2O, its benefits and who and why one must consume it. Ironically, an online search about it on any given day directs us to endless pages loaded with information. And usually, in such a scenario, we get more baffled than it doing any good to us. It is always recommended to be guided by experts and professionals to avoid any potential health damage. An interaction with a few industry specialists to check the facts and determine a suitable option, revealed much-needed information. 

 Natural alkaline water

The pH level checks how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. One may check the pH level details in a packaged bottle. "Normal or regular drinking water contains a neutral pH of 7. Whereas the pH is closer to 8 and above in alkaline water," shares Dr Anu Mishra, a nutritionist. 

 Nevertheless, pH alone isn't enough to impart substantial alkalinity to water. "For water to be alkaline, it must also contain natural-occurring citrate minerals like calcium, magnesium etc. When spring or aquifer water passes through underground layers of soil and alluvium, it picks up a range of citrate alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonates and silica etc. These naturally occurring minerals raise water pH closer to 8 and above, which makes the water alkaline," explains Behram Mehta, Managing Director and Founder, Aava Natural Mineral Water. 


Naturally, alkaline water like is an excellent bioavailable source of natural minerals. Spring or aquifer water enriched with naturally occurring calcium, magnesium and electrolytes increase the health-boosting mineral reserves one is born with and ingests through a balanced diet. "The benefits of these natural minerals are tremendous, from increasing immunity and longevity to boosting heart, bone and brain health. Silica is great for collagen building and glowing skin too," suggest doctors. 

A fitness enthusiast sipping water, Image Source: Freepik

 Differentiating natural V/S artificial alkaline water

In naturally alkaline water, the water is directly obtained from protected natural sources. The water from the spring or aquifer travels through alluvium, clay, and rocks as it moves underground. It acquires its naturally occurring minerals from here, which raise the pH and make the water more alkaline. 

Alkaline water created artificially, commonly referred to as ionised alkaline water, can be sourced from any place. It is often purified using RO (Reverse Osmosis), which demineralises water and rejects 74% of the water before passing through an ioniser. Ionised alkaline raises pH levels artificially by electrically splitting water molecules into hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-). These electronic ionisers can raise the pH to excessively high, like 9 and 10. Although transient, this elevated pH can drop over a while, sometimes in a few hours. 

90% of the brands on shop shelves are ionised alkaline water brands, and most just have a high pH with little to no minerals. Even if minerals are re-added while manufacturing, research suggests that almost none of the typical techniques for remineralising water after RO filtration may be deemed sufficient to have a good effect on human health. Natural minerals have a significantly better bioavailability from naturally alkaline mineral water. The balance of minerals makes natural mineral water alkaline and healthy for consumption. 

Handy tips for Indian consumers

A bottle of alkaline water

If you're a consumer in India, check bottled water packaging. If the license is IS 13428 means it's natural mineral water; if its pH is 7.8 and above, it is naturally alkaline. If it's IS 14543, it's ionised alkaline water that's been processed and purified through RO. 

The WHO cautions against drinking demineralised RO water as calcium and magnesium are essential for human health. In fact, in 2019, a judgment of the National Green Tribunal, endorsed by the Supreme Court of India, banned RO below 500 TDS for protecting certain areas' health and the environment. NGT observed that demineralised RO purified water without a TDS of a minimum of 150 and above, lacking prescribed composition of calcium and magnesium, is an environmental and public health hazard. In fact, the FSSAI has made it mandatory for even packaged drinking water brands to re-add minerals after doing RO. 

To identify the originality, one can also take the taste of water as a parameter. Avanti Mehta, Brand Manager, Aava Natural Mineral Water, who has become India's youngest water sommelier certified by Fine Water Academy, throws light on it. According to her, "Water sommeliers worldwide only taste natural mineral water. It is ethically sourced from protected natural sources, which gives it a unique mineral composition and taste." What works as a differentiator? The minerals in natural mineral water determine its distinct taste and terroir. The texture is smooth and creamy, and there is a hint of sweetness when natural mineral water has a mineral content that makes its pH alkaline. As for ionised alkaline water, it tastes just like purified/ filtered/ processed RO water. Natural mineral water should be appreciated for its unique taste since no amount of machines, processes, and purification can achieve that original taste and minerality that nature creates," she educates. 

 Best pH level for natural alkaline water

Most naturally alkaline waters have a pH closer to 8, depending on the source and terrain they originate from. However, in India, the limits of the pH range from 6.5 - 8.5, as defined by the Bureau of Indian Standards for Natural Mineral Waters certified under IS 13428. 

Behram Mehta says, "Natural mineral waters with a naturally alkaline pH are healthy for everyone, irrespective of age. The minerals like calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates and natural electrolytes in the water like sodium, silica etc., make the water healthy, not just the high pH. Our bodies get these minerals from the food we eat and also the water that we drink."

Due to its natural electrolytes, naturally alkaline water is especially beneficial for sportspersons or those who are highly active - it's like nature's original energy drink. "There is also scientific research on how natural bicarbonates positively impact digestion and help acidity. Overall, the bioavailability of minerals from naturally alkaline mineral water makes it essential for wellness. For the last 17 years, we have ensured that our product is more than mere mineral water. It is an elixir of trust, purity and wellness," informs Behram.  

If you have any pre-existing conditions or particular health concerns, it is always advised to check with your physician or a medical professional.