There is no shortage of jubilant literature online concerning the miraculous health properties of structured water.
Experts claim it has antioxidant capabilities, that the water’s electrons can neutralize free radicals and balance excess acidity, which in turn prevents and even reverses a myriad of chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer.
We explore the science behind structured water and uncover the truth behind the hype.
What is Structured Water?
When water is in touch with a surface, or interface, a few water molecules line up and become “ordered”. This ordered, or structured, water is negatively charged and the water just beyond it is oppositely charged.
How is Water Structured?
There are several ways water can become structured:
- Through incident radiant energy — in other words electromagnetic radiation, heat, light, infrared, ultraviolet. The energy from the environment creates the water structure and charge separation.
- In nature, water spins, swirls and flows around corners and curves. This creates a vortex that structures the water.
- Cooler temperatures — lowering the water’s temperature to 39 degrees Fahrenheit increases its structure.
- There is also a multitude of water structuring devices on the market. Most of them use technology inspired by water’s natural flow to offer structured water “on tap”.
Structured Water in Our Body
In order to understand how structured water might benefit our body, we must first remind ourselves of a rather extraordinary fact.
Though most of us know: the human body is between 50 and 70 percent water, however on a molecular level the proportion is much higher: 99 percent of the molecules in the body are made up of water.
If you visualize a cell as a network or grid made up of proteins, the spaces between those proteins are filled with water — so within your body there are many surfaces, or interfaces, that interact with this water, thereby structuring it.[i] In other words, the water in your body is structured.
Why is Structured Water in the Body Important?
The water within your cells plays a part in your general health. Organs are made up of 99 percent water molecules; it therefore follows that both the proteins AND the structured water contribute to the organs’ proper functioning.
If the water isn’t structured the way it should be, the functioning of larger protein molecules will be affected.
Oxidation Reduction Potential
Water’s positive or negative charge is called Oxidation Reduction Potential — this measures its ability to boost or neutralize free radicals in the body.
According to the founder of The American Anti Cancer Institute, the negative hydrogen ions (OH-) in structured water bind to acidic ions( H+) to neutralize the free radicals that cause so many diseases.
The negative hydrogen ions in structured water have been found to have powerful antioxidant effects.
In a study published in Nature Medicine, scientists induced high oxidative stress in cultured cells and observed that hydrogen reduced the hydroxyl radical (the most toxic and reactive free radical), and simultaneously protected the cells.[ii]
The link between free radicals and health are well established — an excess of free radicals in the body causes cell damage and has been associated with a higher risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases.[iii] Increasing antioxidant consumption improves physical health and can provide some protection against these illnesses.
Acidic water contains positive hydrogen ions (H+), whereas more alkaline water contains negative hydrogen ions (OH-)[iv]. All structured water is alkaline, because of its high content of negative hydrogen ions, but why does this matter?
Human life requires slightly alkaline pH levels of between 7.35 and 7.45 to thrive.[v] Other life also requires carefully balanced pH levels.
Take the oceans — in the last 100 years the oceans’ pH has become more acidic, going from 8.2 to 8.1. This seemingly small change has already had a negative impact on sea life and may even lead to the collapse of the coral reef.
Soil pH has an impact on the mineral content of the foods we eat - Acidic soils have less calcium and magnesium, and alkaline soils produce foods with less bio available iron, copper and zinc.
It follows therefore that pH balance is essential for our health. When you consider the pH of our diets, things have drastically changed since the industrialization of the food industry.
Man today consumes a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, trans fats and chemical additives. These convenience foods create acidic conditions within the body that promote disease and illness, and much has been made recently of the alkaline diet as a way of balancing the body’s pH and improving health.
There is no shortage of literature online suggesting you can fight cancer by making your body more alkaline.
This is a subject of considerable concern, as instances of cancer and other chronic illnesses have soared whilst our processed food diets cause our bodies to become more acidic. That said, most scientific research on the effects of alkalinity on cancer is not conclusive, and some scientific studies demonstrate that the opposite is true.
For instance, a study published in the journal Neoplastia found that tumors are acidic, even within an alkaline cellular structure. Scientists developing anti-cancer drugs have found that alkaline treatments don’t have the desired effect, but acidic treatments do.
A 2005 study by the National Cancer Institute found that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) successfully killed cancer cells without harming normal cells. Clearly, the relationship between alkalinity and cancer is a complex one, which can sometimes be over-simplified by those profiting from sales of water structuring devices.
That said, ample numbers of studies show that a diet based mainly on alkaline forming foods, typically fruits and vegetables, improves overall health, reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, improves memory and cognition, and prevents muscle wasting in older adults.[vi] Therefore, adding alkaline water to a healthy balanced diet could well boost your health and lower your risk of suffering from these lifestyle diseases.
Drinking Structured Water
The question of whether drinking structured water benefits your health is still open to debate. There are question marks over whether or not structured water would retain its structure once it is swallowed and absorbed.
Dr Polack, professor of Bio Engineering at the University of Washington and leading expert on structured water offers two possibilities: The structure may be preserved because of structured water’s tendency to stay together, or the water’s negative charge is absorbed and helps restructure the water within your cells. The jury’s still out, and there’s a distinct lack of scientific studies on the subject.
Despite this question mark, the case for structured water’s health benefits, due to its alkalinity and antioxidant potential, remains strong.
Water Water Everywhere….
Or not — in fact, globally, clean water is becoming a scarce resource due to questionable oil and gas extraction techniques polluting ground water reservoirs, contaminants from heavy industry flowing into rivers and streams, not to mention the chemicals we flush down the plug hole every day and the overall effects of global warming on rainfall and water quality.
Whilst this is happening, we are increasingly encouraged to spend our money on bottled water.
What’s in Your Tap Water?
When it comes to the water that flows through our taps, the situation is murky. Although the quality of your tap water depends on where you live, it’s common knowledge that it contains contaminants, anything from heavy metals, disinfestation by-products and pesticides, to prescription drugs.
The Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database lists 316 chemicals found in tap water throughout the US.[vii] But wait, that’s not all....
Some governing bodies add fluoride to municipal water, presumably to help keep the population’s teeth strong. This is a highly controversial addition to our water, when we consider some of the side effects.
Fluoride consumption impairs cognitive function and brain development in children, and lowers IQ;[viii] it has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers;[ix] it even suppresses the immune system and renders it less able to defend itself against foreign pathogens.[x] That’s without mentioning the fact it was used both in Soviet concentration camps and Nazi prison camps as a way to keep prisoners subservient and docile.[xi]
No Water pH Recommendation?
Interestingly, in the Word Health Organization’s 600 page Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality,[xii] we find no health-based recommendations for water pH.
The report states, “pH has no direct impact on consumers”, but goes on to say, “it is one of the most important operational water quality parameters”. Their recommendation that water should be between 6.5 and 8 pH has more to do with protecting household plumbing than the pipes within your body!
Is Bottled Water the Answer?
In these times of polluted water supplies it’s only natural to seek purity in the apparent safety of a plastic bottle. We turn to bottled water, but it unfortunately may not be much better.
In fact 25 percent comes not from a spring or mountain as suggested by the pretty pictures in the adverts, but from municipal water supplies, in other words — tap water, yet it’s (mis)-sold to us as a pure, fresh, clean beverage.[xiii]
The practice of bottling tap water also poses some social and economic concerns.
In California, US, a state that has suffered terrible draughts for the last four years and where residents have been told to reduce their water consumption by over 30 percent, one water bottling company is still sourcing its water from municipal reserves — buying it at the same rate as residents, and selling it back to them for huge profits.[xiv]
In addition, buying bottled water packs a hefty ecological bill — every year, we consume 50 billion bottles of H2O. That’s an immense amount of plastic! Although the bottles are made from fully recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, most (a staggering 80 percent) are not recycled and find their way to landfills or the environment.
Much of the plastic we throw away ends up in the oceans, polluting seawater and being ingested by wildlife. Without getting into the detail of manufacture and transport, lets not forget that plastic is a petroleum by-product, and that in order to transport the billions of bottles we consume, fossil fuels have to be burnt. Bottled water certainly looks like an unsustainable option!
Water Filters - Will They Help?
If you’re health conscious and environmentally concerned, what’s your best course of action?
A water filter is a good solution if you’re looking to drink clean, pure, contaminant free water. Most filter fluoride as well as other contaminants.
There are, of course, thousands of water filters on the market, which can feel overwhelming. One way to ensure the product you buy will do what it advertises is to ensure it is NSF certified. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International) offers an online database (http://info.nsf.org/Certified/dwtu/) on its website where you can check filters’ safety and effectiveness.
So, is structured water the miracle it first appears to be? There’s no doubt that there is a basis for the health claims.
Structured water’s charge provides free radical scavenging antioxidants and its alkalinity could help to maintain the body’s pH balance. Nonetheless, like many health supplements, structured water is not a standalone life elixir.
Simply changing the kind of water you drink will not make much difference to your wellness unless you also change your diet and lifestyle
A synergistic balance of nutrients is required to achieve optimum health and protect your body from chronic illness.
[x] Alfred Taylor and Nell C. Taylor, “Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Tumor Growth,” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol. 119, p. 252 (1965) (http://www.healthy-communications.com/fluorideasratpoison.html)