Alkaline Water

Is Alkaline Water Helpful After Bariatric Surgery?

June 12, 2023

Alkaline water has been promoted to slow down how fast you age, prevent cancer, boost your energy and regulate your body’s pH. You have a lot of expenses after weight loss surgery. Should you open your wallet and let go of your hard earned cash? Will alkaline water benefit you in any way?

In our science 101 today, let’s look closely at what alkaline water is all about and if there are benefits to you after bariatric surgery. To understand alkaline water, it’s important to look at the pH which is a measure of whether a substance is basic aka alkaline, or acidic, or neutral. This pH is measured on a scale with a number from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most basic or alkaline. Think a minute about the word “alkaline” in alkaline water. What does that mean? It refers to the pH of the water. A pH of 10, for example, based on the pH scale, would be alkaline.

The pH Scale On Tap Water

Do you want to guess where good ole tap water falls on the pH scale of 0-14? Typically, it has a neutral pH of around 7.0 but may contain several dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as bicarbonate that may alter that pH somewhat. The amount of dissolved minerals in tap water depends on where the tap water is sourced. Hard water has a higher mineral content and is more alkaline than soft water.

What about the pH of alkaline waters? Typically, they have a pH range of 8 or 9 but can be higher as alkaline waters also contain minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium and then also bicarbonate. The amount of the minerals and bicarbonate varies by brand and whether the alkaline water is from a natural source or man-made with a list of minerals and other items added.

Natural alkaline water is produced when water runs over rocks such as in natural springs and picks up minerals and bicarbonate along the way, which increases its alkalinity.

Other alkaline waters are man-made with a water ionizer that claims to increase the pH of the drinking water by using electrolysis to separate the water into acidic and alkaline components. Additionally, you could add baking soda to water at home as another way to make water more alkaline.

What Does Alkaline Water Really Do For You?

Let’s say a friend tells you to start drinking alkaline water as it will give you more energy and you’ve been dragging since surgery. True or false? False, here’s why. You may likely have more energy, but that is because you will be well hydrated from drinking more water, not because the water is alkaline. In fact, some of the minerals in alkaline water could interfere with medications you take so it’s always a smart discussion to let your pharmacist and health care provider know if you plan to drink it and what’s in the brand you drink if you take medications.

Make sure the water won’t negatively interact with your meds. For example, if you have a kidney condition or take a medicine that alters kidney function, these minerals in alkaline water could build up in the body.

Your friend also told you to drink alkaline water every day or more than once a day so it can neutralize the acid in your body. One bottle every day or every other day may not be an issue, again, based on your medications and health concerns, but let’s say you drink a lot more than that… maybe up to a gallon per day. The stomach’s pH is very acidic, as it’s supposed to be and doesn’t need to be altered to help it out. The stomach pH is 1.5-3.5 and plays a major role in the breakdown and digestion of food. Don’t miss this…the acidic pH of your stomach also helps kill bacteria and eliminate undesirable pathogens before they enter your bloodstream.

Drinking alkaline water at a pH of 8 or 9 or higher means that your body has to work harder to maintain its normal low pH in the stomach, and over time will need to produce more gastric juices and digestive enzymes to stay at its normal acidic level. These changes could affect symptoms if you deal with Gerd or other gastric issues.

What about the body’s blood pH? The body works hard to always maintain your blood pH between 7.35 and 7.45 with a tight balance or homeostasis. If you try to change it, your body will fight right back to maintain this normal blood pH and balance.

Alkaline Water In Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Or LPR

There is some research on the use of alkaline water in laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR, which is a fairly common disorder that affects the throat, larynx and pharynx. The exposure to an acid environment from the presence of the digestive enzyme pepsin causes damage to the throat, larynx, and pharynx. Alkaline water with a pH greater than 8 may deactivate the digestive enzyme pepsin in these trouble spots. It may be an additional treatment along with other lifestyle adjustments, which include the Mediterranean diet and standard reflux protocol.

There just isn’t good clinical research and data to definitively say that alkaline water is healthier than any other water choices. What the science is clear on, in the case of weight loss surgery, is that it’s much more important for your successful transformation to drink a lot of water (tap or spring or flavored) and to stay away from beverages that are loaded with sugar and can cause dumping syndrome along with weight regain.

I’m more concerned that you drink enough water to meet your needs after surgery in order to stay hydrated, to help with digestion and other body processes and to have healthy skin and hair without spending a ton of money.

Registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success.

Alkaline Water
Susan Mitchell


Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success. Selected as one of the Best 35 Dietitian Podcasts, Bariatric Surgery Success was chosen from thousands of podcasts on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness. Dr. Susan helps you conquer cravings, emotional eating and weight regain after bariatric surgery with a focus on your nutrition and health, journey and success. Read more articles by Susan!