Here’s a basic problem.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a warning about “Real Water.” Not real water in general but the “Real Water” brand of alkaline water. And the warning is not real good. Do not drink or otherwise put into your body this brand of alkaline water until further notice.
That’s based on what the Southern Nevada Health District told the FDA on March 13. Back in November 2020, five infants and young children in Nevada came down with acute non-viral hepatitis. “Acute” is not the same thing as “a cute.” There’s nothing cute about hepatitis. Medically, “acute” means “sudden and severe onset.” Hepatitis is basically inflammation of the liver. Non-viral means that it was probably caused by something besides a virus. All five cases progressed to acute liver failure, leading to hospitalization. Fortunately, all five ended up recovering from the liver failure.
The five patients were from four different households but seemed to have one thing in common. They all consumed “Real Water.” They weren’t the only ones in the households to get sick. Others had symptoms like fever, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue but didn’t suffer something as severe as liver failure.
The FDA is currently further investigating the cases and the alkaline water. So, when it comes to “Real Water” alkaline water, hold on, in the words of Wilson Phillips, and don’t consume, purchase, serve, or sell this water.
“We are advising consumers, restaurants and retailers to not consume, cook with, sell or serve ‘Real Water’ alkaline water until more information is known about the cause of the illnesses,” said Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “We are working to determine how the alkaline water may be related to the illnesses. Although the investigation is ongoing, epidemiologic information currently indicates that this alkaline water product may be the cause of the illnesses.”
This warning is about “Real Water” specifically and not all brands of alkaline water. Alkaline water in general is not known to cause hepatitis. However, the jury’s is still out on its potential benefits. Alkaline water is water that has a higher pH (typically 8 or 9), which means that it is less acidic and more basic, than regular drinking water (which usually has a pH of 7 which is smack in the middle of the pH scale that goes from 1 to 14).
People have, surprise, surprise, made all sorts of claims without providing enough backing scientific evidence about what drinking alkaline water can do, ranging from combating aging to helping weight loss to preventing cancer. A study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology has suggested that alkaline water may help with acid reflux. Another study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has suggested that alkaline water may affect blood viscosity. But neither of these come close to supporting many of the more audacious claims out there about alkaline water.
Basically, there doesn’t seem to be significant risk in drinking alkaline water in general, if you don’t mind paying extra for water. But it’s not clear what exactly alkaline water may have over regular tap water, which is real water. Just not “Real Water.”