Acid reflux is one of the top digestive complaints among adults. And while many of us reach for the Tums or the Pepcid, others are looking for a more natural solution.
Could alkaline water be the key to getting acid reflux under control?
Here’s what a doctor has to say.
Alkaline water is said to neutralize stomach acid.
You might remember this from chemistry class, but regular water is neutral with a pH of 7. It’s not acidic or alkaline.
Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular water – around 8 or 9 – thanks to minerals like calcium, potassium magnesium or iron.
“The idea here is to drink something with a higher pH to neutralize the stomach acid and reduce your acid reflux symptoms,” says Amir E. Masoud, MD, the medical co-director of Hartford HealthCare Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center.
But acid reflux isn’t all about acid.
Heartburn occurs when your stomach contents reflux up into your esophagus, causing that familiar, and uncomfortable, burning sensation.
But the reflux is really the issue – not the acid.
“We think of it as acid reflux because the stomach makes acid. But the problem here is the reflux, not the gastric contents. It just happens to be acidic because that’s the function of the stomach,” says Dr. Masoud.
And alkaline water may not help – it could even hurt.
Unfortunately, dealing with acid reflux may not be as simple as changing up your water.
“This oversimplification isn’t really rooted in science. This pH can’t change much for you, and the alkalinity of your water alone won’t improve your symptoms.”
And the DIY approach could actually have a negative impact.
“We have complex and well-calibrated homeostatic mechanisms in our bodies to keep things in check. It’s not wise to attempt chemistry experiments with our gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Masoud advises.
7 better ways to manage acid reflux without medication.
If you’re still searching for heartburn relief, medication can help – but it also has downsides.
“There are no medications that can alter the normal gastrointestinal physiology without risks or downsides,” cautions Dr. Masoud.
But, there are ways to manage your acid reflux naturally:
- Lose weight
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals
- Add some pectin-rich fruit (apples, citrus fruits) to the end of your meal
- Try Sodium Alginate containing products
- Elevate the head of your bed
- Avoid tight clothes/compression garments
- Reconsider exercises that involve high intensity or rapid repetition. These movements can quickly increase abdominal pressure and disrupt the gastroesophageal barrier.
Water may help after all.
While alkaline water can’t fix your acid reflux alone, more water can help make your reflux more comfortable.
“I think it’s great if you drink more water,” says Dr. Masoud. “This can dilute gastric contents and enhance gastric emptying leading to less reflux.”