Dr. Bray Links

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Should you spend money on alkaline water or is it snake oil?

In short, save your money and instead 1) use clean water and 2) eat more leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, brussels spouts, broccoli). In addition to fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, I recommend lots of steamed vegetables also. Along with the steamed vegetables, do not skimp on the healthy "undamaged" fats. The combination of these two encourage the removal of damaged fats and fat-soluble toxins including several types of sickness promoting mycotoxins. We are always trying to look for a shortcut to fix our sad SAD (standard american diet) diet. This SAD diet does contribute to a low level metabolic acidosis ... so clean it up rather than spending $5000 on drinking water. Our creator placed relatively neutral pH spring water on this planet for us to drink (just try giving your plants pH 9 water ... they die). Recurrent metabolic acidosis may be due to infections or weak kidney function as well. This should be looked into by a good physician or nephrologist.



Alkalinity Research I: Flora and Fauna

Although the research is clear that highly alkaline water has detrimental effects on plants and animals, there are not many studies with humans. A review of the literature turns up a variety of anecdotal evidence about the importance of pH to various living organisms, however, and as you might expect, optimal pH varies, depending on the organism. The scientific literature indicates pH is important for nutrition and vitality. For example:

  • Michigan State University studied greenhouse growth media (including the pH of that media), finding it is extremely important for the media pH to be properly adjusted prior to planting. Too high of a pH (greater than 6.5) increases the chances of micronutrient deficiencies. Too low of a pH (less than 5.3) results in calcium and/or magnesium and/or manganese toxicity.6
  • Ohio State University Extension Service reports that alkaline water affects a plant’s ability to obtain nutrients from the soil and can alter the soil’s pH over time.7
  • An ecological study in the Netherlands found that an influx of alkaline water led to the demise of a native plant called Stratiotes aloides L.8
  • Fish chronically exposed to alkaline soft water exhibit signs of stress (sometimes fatal), while fish in alkaline hard water experienced no such adverse effects, according to a study at the University of British Columbia.9
  • If you are a gardener, you can view a helpful illustration of the environmental effects of pH in your own garden. If your pH is low, your hydrangea produces pink flowers, but if your pH is high, you’ll get blue flowers. But what about us bipeds?

Alkalinity Research II: Humans

There has been a great deal of debate about battling cancer by making your body alkaline. This has become a focus of interest as cancer rates have skyrocketed (along with many other chronic, debilitating diseases), while our bodies have become more acidic from our processed-food diets. The scientific research about the benefits of alkalinity is by no means conclusive. PH appears to have a major influence on cell mitochondria:

Normal cells die under extremely alkaline conditions. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that alkalosis (rising cellular pH) causes alkaline-induced cell death as a result of altering mitochondrial function.10
Another study out of Cornell University states that antioxidants have not proven to be effective against many neurodegenerative diseases, and they state it may be a result of how the mitochondria operate within the cell in certain pH conditions.11
There are some scientific studies that really argue against alkalinity, at least with respect to preventing or treating cancer. Consider the research by Robert Gilles, who has studied tumor formation and acidity.12 According to Gilles, tumors, by their very nature, make themselves acidic - even in an alkaline cellular structure. In other words, they make their own acidity. Scientists who are in the process of developing prototypes for potential new anticancer agents that selectively kill tumor cells by interfering with the regulation of intracellular pH , have found that alkaline treatments do NOT have the desired effect - but strongly acidic treatments do.13

Talk about fighting fire with fire - they are fighting acid-loving cancer cells with acid! LESS alkalinity inside a cancer cell seems to be what you want, not more. So, all of those salesmen promising alkaline water will lower your cancer risk are completely clueless when it comes to what the scientific research actually shows. Even more interesting is a 2005 study by the National Cancer Institute , which revisits the use of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to treat cancer. They found that, in pharmacologic doses administered intravenously, ascorbic acid successfully killed cancer cells without harming normal cells.14 This is yet another example of cancer cells being vulnerable to acidity, as opposed to alkalinity . It’s clear that the relationship between alkalinity and cancer has been grossly oversimplified by those jumping to premature conclusions - and of course by those trying to profit off your fear. The bottom line is that alkaline water isn’t cancer’s magic bullet.

Balance Is Key

As is true with many things, in the end it’s a matter of balance. Water that is too acidic or too alkaline can be detrimental to human health and lead to nutritional disequilibrium. This was demonstrated in a Swedish well water study,15 which found both pH extremes to be problematic. Your body simply was not designed to drink highly alkaline water all the time. So I believe it’s best to be VERY careful when it comes to something as foundational as the water you drink on a daily basis. If you get it wrong, you could really cause yourself some major damage. It makes sense that you are designed to drink water that occurs naturally, which excludes alkaline water with pH levels of 8 and above.

And if you drink alkaline water all the time, you’re going to raise the alkalinity of your stomach, which will buffer your stomach’s acidity and impair your ability to digest food, as low stomach acid is one of the most common causes of ulcers. This can open the door for parasites in your small intestine, and your protein digestion may suffer. It also means you’ll get less minerals and nutrients over time - in fact, some of these health effects can already be seen in hardcore alkaline water drinkers. Alkalinity is also potentially a problem because it is antibacterial, so it could potentially disrupt the balance of your body’s beneficial bacteria.16

Living Water

What you want is pure water - water that is clean, balanced, and healthful, neither too alkaline nor too acidic. Ideally, the pH of your water should be somewhere between 6 and 8. And some of the most healthful waters in the world - that which emerge from mountain springs - are actually acidic in the range of 6.5 and would absolutely be my preference if it were readily available. This mountain spring water is 'structured' in a way that is not well understood. I hope to have more information about structured water in the near future.

If this is something that interests you there is a web site, FindaSpring.com, where you can find springs in your local area. That is “living water,” which is living in the same way that raw food is “ living food .” One reason I am such an advocate for eating plenty of fresh, organic raw food is for its biophotons. Biophotons are the smallest units of light, which are stored in and used by all biological organisms - including you. Vital energy finds its way into your cells from the biodynamic foods you eat.

In the same way that raw foods are alive with biophoton energy, natural water is “alive” in a similar way. If you really want to alkalinize your body, it would seem wise to encourage it with the highest quality water possible, which is obtained from vegetable juice. Green vegetable juices will help your body normalize your body’s pH naturally. If this is new to you and you are interested in more information, you can review my juicing manual for free. I cannot think of “living water” without thinking of the visionary work of Dr. Masaru Emoto , the Japanese researcher who experimented with the crystal forms of water. What he discovered is that different forms of energy influence water’s ability to organize into beautiful crystal forms.17

He demonstrated that water crystallization depends on the natural health of the water. He found that water from natural springs, healing water sources, etc., formed beautiful and complex crystalline geometries - like snowflakes. Water that had been distilled or polluted lost its inner order, and its ability to crystallize was profoundly disturbed. You wouldn’t want to eat dead food... so why would you want to drink dead water?



Many of you have probably heard of the ‘alkaline diet’. There are a few different versions of the acid-alkaline theory circulating the internet, but the basic claim is that the foods we eat leave behind an ‘ash’ after they are metabolized, and this ash can be acid or alkaline (alkaline meaning more basic on the pH scale).

According to the theory, it is in our best interest to make sure we eat more alkaline foods than acid foods, so that we end up with an overall alkaline load on our body. This will supposedly protect us from the diseases of modern civilization, whereas eating a diet with a net acid load will make us vulnerable to everything from cancer to osteoporosis. To make sure we stay alkaline, they recommend keeping track of urine or saliva pH using handy pH test strips.

In this two-part series, I will address the main claims made by proponents of the alkaline diet, and will hopefully clear up some confusion about what it all means for your health.


I don’t deny that many people have seen significant health improvements when switching to an alkaline diet, but there are many possible reasons for this not having to do with pH balance. Eating more fresh produce is rarely a bad idea, especially when it displaces nutrient poor processed foods. A person switching to an alkaline diet would significantly reduce their consumption of grains, which could cause dramatic health improvements for somebody with a leaky gut or gluten sensitivity. Dairy would also be minimized, which would help those with dairy sensitivities. And although pure sugar isn’t an acid-forming nutrient, many laypeople claim that it is, so alkaline diets tend to contain far less sugar than a standard Western diet.

Between the scientific evidence (or lack thereof) and the anthropological research, I think we can be confident that the acid load of our diets doesn’t negatively impact healthy people. For those with renal failure or similar conditions that affect kidney function, it’s a different story—there’s certainly room for manipulation of urine pH in the treatment of those conditions. But for someone with functioning kidneys, there should be no concern that an acid-forming diet will harm health.


And finally, we have the gold standard randomized clinical trials where protein has also been shown to benefit bone. For example, there’s a 2009 trial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found that in postmenopausal women, increasing protein from 10% of calories to 20% of calories improved intestinal calcium absorption and also decreased urinary DPD, which is a marker of bone breakdown, and an increased IGF-1, which, as we just talked about, has several different positive effects on bone health.

And then the last thing that I’m going to say is there was a really exhaustive review on this topic published in the Nutrition Journal in 2011 that looked at 55 different trials, 22 of them randomized clinical trials, and the authors’ conclusion was this: “A causal association between dietary acid load and osteoporotic bone disease is not supported by the evidence, and there is no evidence that an alkaline diet is protective of bone health.”



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