question often asked about alkaline water is, "What happens to the
alkaline water once it reaches the stomach, which is highly acidic?”ť
People who have some knowledge of the human body, including medical
doctors, ask this question. Let’s answer that question once and for all
to erase any doubts about the health benefits of alkaline water.
In order to digest food and kill the kinds of bacteria and viruses
that come with the food, the inside of our stomach is acidic. The
stomach pH value is maintained at around 4. When we eat food and drink
water, especially alkaline water, the pH value inside the stomach goes
up. When this happens, there is a feedback mechanism in our stomach to
detect this and commands the stomach wall to secrete more hydrochloric
acid into the stomach to bring the pH value back to 4. So the stomach
becomes acidic again. When we drink more alkaline water, more
hydrochloric acid is secreted to maintain the stomach pH value. It seems
like a losing battle.
However, when you understand how the stomach wall makes hydrochloric
acid, your concerns will disappear. There is no hydrochloric acid pouch
in our body. If there were, it would burn a hole in our body. The cells
in our stomach wall must produce it on an instantly-as-needed basis. The
ingredients in the stomach cell that make hydrochloric acid (HCl) are
carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and sodium chloride (NaCl) or
potassium chloride (KCl).
NaCl + H2O + CO2 = HCl + NaHCO3, or
KCl + H2O + CO2 = HCl + KHCO3
As we can see, the byproduct of making hydrochloric acid is sodium
bicarbonate (NaHCO3) or potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3), which goes into
the blood stream. These bicarbonates are the alkaline buffers that
neutralize excess acids in the blood; they dissolve solid acid wastes
into liquid form. As they neutralize the solid acidic wastes, extra
carbon dioxide is released, which is discharged through the lungs. As
our body gets old, these alkaline buffers get low; this phenomenon is
called acidosis. This is a natural occurrence as our body accumulates
more acidic waste products. There is, therefore, a relationship between
the aging process and the accumulation of acids.
By looking at the pH value of the stomach alone, it seems that
alkaline water never reaches the body. But when you look at the whole
body, there is a net gain of alkalinity as we drink alkaline water. Our
body cells are slightly alkaline. In order for them to produce acid,
they must also produce alkaline, and vice versa; just as a water ionizer
cannot produce alkaline water without producing acid water, since tap
water is almost neutral.
When the stomach pH value gets higher than 4, the stomach knows what
to do to lower it. However, if the pH value goes below 4, for any
reason, the stomach doesn’t know what to do. That’s why we take
Alka-Seltzer, which is alkaline, to relieve acidic stomach gas pain. In
this case, hydrochloric acid is not produced by the stomach wall,
therefore, no alkaline buffer is being added to the blood stream.
Here’s another example of a body organ that produces acid in order to
produce alkaline. After the food in the stomach is digested, it must
come out to the small intestine. The food at this point is so acidic
that it will damage the intestine wall. In order to avoid this problem,
the pancreas makes alkaline juice (known as pancreatic juice). This
juice is sodium bicarbonate, and is mixed with the acidic food coming
out of the stomach. From the above formulae, in order to produce
bicarbonates, the pancreas must make hydrochloric acid, which goes into
our blood stream.
We experience sleepiness after a big meal (not during the meal or
while the food is being digested in the stomach), when the digested food
is coming out of the stomach; that’s the time when hydrochloric acid
goes into our blood. Hydrochloric acid is the main ingredient in
antihistamines that causes drowsiness.
Alkaline or acid produced by the body must have an equal and opposite
acid or alkaline produced by the body; therefore, there is no net gain.
However, alkaline supplied from outside the body, like drinking
alkaline water, results in a net gain of alkalinity in our body.
- From the writings of Sang Whang.