Does Alkaline Water Help Acid Reflux?
- YES! Effective reflux control demands an alkaline (low-acid) diet, and so alkaline water is very good for reflux. Despite what you may read on the Internet, alkaline water has no side effects or downside, and it can be consumed all the time without worry. For refluxers, I recommend water that’s pH 9.5 or higher.
- Alkaline water sprayed into the throat and onto the vocal cords helps wash out pepsin, because the stomach enzyme, pepsin, that comes up with acid reflux dies at about pH 8.5. So, spray throat with high-pH alkaline water; I recommend pH 9.5 or higher.
- Alkaline water is also great for pH-balancing; it will help correct the pH of anything that is moderately acid. It is great as a chaser after eating anything acidic.
Note: Respiratory Reflux (RR) and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) are synonyms, and the terms can be used interchangeably. Going forward, I prefer the term RR and so should you: it is easier to pronounce, more intuitive, and it implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.
What Makes Alkaline Water Good for Acid Reflux?
Alkaline water, ideally pH 9.5, is great for reflux and has no down-side, that is, alkaline water has no side effects or problems whatever. And you should know this: the purpose of drinking alkaline water is not to balance the pH inside the stomach or kill pepsin in the stomach. And, alkaline water does not change the acid-base balance inside your body; the pH of our blood is virtually always 7.4.
There are, however, at least three reasons why alkaline water is good for acid reflux:
First, it is great for pH-balancing, both when drunk after consuming something that is acidic and as an ingredient in things like smoothies to keep the overall pH in a good range (pH >5) for refluxers. No matter what you are eating, drinking alkaline water has the capacity to pH-balance anything acidic.
Second; if the pH of the alkaline water is pH 9.5 or more, it will kill pepsin on contact, and pepsin is the bad actor when it comes to inflammation. When you drink alkaline water, its acid-neutralizing benefits are for the mouth, throat, and esophagus; that’s what comes in direct contact with the alkaline water. However, alkaline water can be used as nose drops, a throat spray, and in a vaporizer, which can reach almost any part of the respiratory tract.
Third, it especially enhances long-term treatment for esophageal damage such as esophagitis or metaplasia, and especially Barrett’s Esophagus. Indeed, alkaline water helps heal esophageal disease as well as the throat.
Most foods, especially fruits, are acidic, and so drinking alkaline water with, or after eating, helps protect the tissues of your throat. That’s one kind of passive pH-balancing. If you are just starting out on a “reflux detox” program, you shouldn’t consume anything below pH 5.
But pH-balancing ― combining something alkaline with something acidic ― can increase the options of things you eat, still keeping the pH above 5. Be creative; here’s a trick that I do: If you add a banana, three alkaline water ice cubes, and almond milk to your smoothie, all three alkaline, then you can add acidic fruit (all but citrus), and your smoothie will still be above pH 5, which is good.
My favorite: I like one banana, one pear, three alkaline ice cubes, a handful of sweet frozen cherries (they add sweetness and color and flavor), and almond milk. A variation that I like: instead of pear, add cantaloupe and 1/2 peeled Fuji apple cut up.
For your favorite variations, try keeping the banana, ice, and almond milk, then you can add most fruits … the pH of fruits and vegetables is found here.
Alkaline Water Kills the Bad Enzyme, Pepsin
Again, by the way, the purpose of drinking alkaline water has nothing to do with changing the acidity of the stomach. Alkaline water can, however, help you Get Rid of Pepsin, a bad enzyme, that is parked on and in, say your throat. Indeed, what you eat could be eating you, and alkaline water can help a lot.
Pepsin is a big powerful enzyme, and it’s the main stomach enzyme that comes up along side of acid when you have reflux. Big? If your house was an oxygen molecule, the pepsin molecule would be a whole city. Pepsin in and on your tissue is what causes all the inflammation and tissue damage … so reflux treatment should try to get rid of pepsin.
Inside the stomach, pepsin is the enzyme that breaks down the proteins in the food you eat to help with digestion. And again, let me reiterate, the purpose of drinking alkaline water is not to balance pH inside the stomach or kill pepsin in the stomach.
Alkaline Water for Esophageal Disease
For people who have documented esophagitis or Barrett’s Esophagus, I recommend the long-term use of alkaline water. (I use and like the Cerra Water pitcher, no bottles to carry.)