Why Drink Alkaline Water When the Stomach is ACID?

alkaline water stomach acid

After my most recent alkaline diet guide came out, a few questions came up more than others.

So over the next few days I’m going to post these for you here, separated out, so you have the answers in a handy reference guide!

The biggest, most asked question about alkaline water, by far, was:

Ross, why drink alkaline water when the stomach is acid? Won’t it just neutralize it?

A lot of people have this question, and I can understand why.

Firstly, because we all see our stomach as this pit of acid waiting for foods and drinks to drop in and fizz away. This is true, but only half true…

But then secondly, to muddy the waters, you have a whole industry of people selling alternative filters to the ionizers and alkaline water filters in general like to perpetuate this myth that drinking alkaline water is pointless…again, based on the logic that the stomach produces hydrochloric acid, so whats the point?

It seems intuitive if you take a face-value look at body biology that the stomach needs to be acid, and it produces acid, so putting something alkaline in there could upset this OR that the stomach is acid and so why eat & drink alkaline as it makes no difference?

Well, at a high level – if that were the case then eating green foods, salads, and vegetables would be bad for your stomach too, right? They’re alkaline, so they’d upset that acidic stomach?

Well, not really, no.

The biology of the body is rarely as simple and straightforward as that.

The first thing to note is this: the stomach is not just a big pouch of acid, sloshing around waiting for food and drink to drop in.

The stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCl) on demand, and when it does so, it also creates sodium bicarbonate.

These two – HCl and sodium bicarbonate are produced based upon what you eat or drink. The pH of the stomach is always 4 so it is based around this.

When you drink alkaline water, the pH of the stomach goes up, and the body produces more HCl in response (and this extra acid is a good thing – read on) – as the pH of the stomach has to remain at around pH 4.

Even though HCl is a very strong acid, it’s a beneficial acid with a very key role; but it’s an acidic role that is limited to the stomach.

And the more alkaline water you drink, the more HCl produced. Again this is a good thing.

Yep – the more alkaline water the more acid is made. BUT, this extra acid, in this specific role, is not a bad thing. It’s actually a very good thing.

Remember, when the body produces HCl it also creates sodium bicarbonate. The HCl stays in the stomach and this sodium bicarbonate is sent into the blood stream to be delivered to other digestive organs such as the liver and pancreas.

The liver produces bile, and the pancreas produce pancreatic juice, which contains enzymes and sodium bicarbonate.

Again, the more HCl that is produced, the more bicarbonate is produced.

(Keep in mind also that the alkaline, ionized water is also neutralizing any excess HCl in the stomach, so it’s not building up – this is why ionized water is so beneficial for people with reflux.)

The fact that more bicarbonate is being produced is important.

Sodium (as well as potassium) bicarbonate acts as an acid buffer in the body.


So in simple terms: eat acidic foods, you don’t get the sodium bicarbonate production, there is no alkaline buffer and the next stage of digestion after the stomach NEEDS this alkaline pH.

It goes:

Drink Alkaline Water (or eat alkaline foods) > Lots of HCl produced for the digestive role in the stomach > Lots of sodium bicarbonate ALSO produced for the digestive role after the stomach.

Without enough alkalinity there is a huge knock on effect to the rest of the body.

This is why alkaline forming foods are HEALTHY foods like vegetables, leafy greens, salads, low-sugar fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, oily fish and so on…

And acidic foods are UNHEALTHY foods like sugar, trans-fats, fast foods, refined foods, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pizza, chips and so on.

Put it this way: if drinking alkaline water was bad for digestion, then someone eating alkaline foods all day would get pretty sick right? But show me someone eating loads of greens, salads, veggies, fish, oils and no sugar, refined foods and so on who has digestive troubles…

In short(!) – an acidic diet directly causes low levels of hcl in the stomach – not the other way around 🙂

I hope this helps clear that up for you.

So go ahead and eat, drink and live alkaline with wild abandon, knowing you’re doing your stomach a huge favour 🙂


P.S. Take a look at the Alkaline Recipe System. With hundreds of easy-to-prepare Alkaline recipes PLUS 7 goal-based meal plans each with itemized shopping lists (for goals including weight loss, more energy, better digestion, clearer skin and more) – it makes reaching your health goals SO easy!

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  1. Trevor Reply

    Hey Ross thank you for a fascinating article.

    Deeply grateful for all your information and I’m enjoying the process of learning from you site.

    If I ate a full alkaline meal, how does the food/minerals survive the pH of the HCI in the stomach, so that it can make the journey into the small intestines?

    Maybe the Bi Carb & HCI are balanced enough to achieve this?

    Thank you

  2. Reynaldo Reply

    I take milk kefir to supply probiotics to my gut. They say that good bacteria make a healthy gut, and healthy gut means strong immune system. I’ve read that bacteria (including good bacteria) thrive in acidic environment, and alkaline environment kills bacteria. What is the ideal pH balance in the stomach for the good bacteria to flourish in the gut and for the alkaline not to harm the good bacteria?

    • ross Reply

      The gut should have a resting pH of around 5 – 5.5, and the digested food needs to be raised up closer to a 6.8 – 7.2 pH by the time it passes out of the gut into the duodenum. The alkaline diet, as I’ve explained in the guide, isn’t designed to make the whole body’s pH alkaline everywhere – you’d die. It’s designed to support the body in maintaining it’s proper pH balance throughout – which is acidic in the stomach, alkaline in the duodenum and pancreas, less so in the small intestine, and so on.

  3. Armands Reply

    All i’m trying to do is find out the truth. I’m not taking sides and looking for flaws in anybody’s claims. I noticed you write about HCI being produced when drinking water that’s why i asked you to clarify it for me, because i am confused. R. Young writes when drinking water alone on en empty stomach HCI doesn’t get produced. You replied to me – ‘when any substance reaches the stomach, the stomach produces the necessary amount of HCl”. You see what i am getting at? They are opposite claims. So what i am trying to find out – is HCI produced in the stomach when drinking water on it’s own or not? You say it is, that’s why i asked if you could back it up to me from scientific point of view. Otherwise i have to rely solely on what you write.

  4. Armands Reply

    Hello Ross,
    could you back up your claim scientifically or give references in regard to HCI being produced in the stomach when drinking water?
    I ask because others (R. Young – PH miracle) claim that drinking water does not trigger the release of HCI at all, thus it doesn’t encounter an acidic stomach environment. It’s completely opposite to what you write.
    It’s also mentioned in this blog – https://nutritionbyerin.com/acid-reflux-mythbusters-drinking-water-dilutes-stomach-acid/

    • ross Reply

      Hi Armands

      I’m not sure you’re understanding my big picture here, or rather, I’m not explaining it properly for you. I’m in total agreement: the stomach CAN handle alkaline water (or any water) and food at the same time. It doesn’t affect digestion. You can drink away while eating.

      Re: HCl and the alkaline water – when any substance reaches the stomach, the stomach produces the necessary amount of HCl to break the substance down, kill bacteria and prepare for digestion…and then a corresponding amount of sodium bicarbonate is produced to increase the pH of whatever you are digesting to a slightly alkaline state (hence the research findings) ready for the next stage of digestion (the pancreas).

      Make sense? We’re all on the same page.

  5. Darlene Reply

    If you are on a blood thinner is it okay to take turmeric and drink alkaline water and foods?

  6. Lauren Sanderson Reply

    Thank you for helping to educate people! I just told my husband I was reading about body pH and such, he said he’s gotten much better, but with my toddler twins I want to start cooking with your alkaline ‘lifestyle’. I used to let him cook, but I think it’s time I take the reigns in that department 😉

    • ross Reply

      My absolute pleasure Lauren!

  7. Brad Reply

    Ross. You said…

    “(Keep in mind also that the alkaline, ionized water is also neutralizing any excess HCl in the stomach, so it’s not building up – this is why ionized water is so beneficial for people with reflux.)”

    This is only true for those with too much stomach acid. Which is the lean side of refluxers.

    Most people are refluxing as a result of too low stomach acid. This is why proton pump inhibitors can have almost a volcanic eruption of symptoms when first taking them.

    Then more is prescribed to bring stomach acid even lower… to dangerously low amounts.

    People think it is solving the issue, but it’s like stopping an engine from leaking oil on the garage floor by draining out all the oil. It stops the leak but trashes the engine.

    The lower sphincter needs presence of stomach acid to close properly during the day and at night. Without it, the sphincters open and the problem persist.

    A refluxer with too low acid drinking a day’s amount of water in alkaline form will make the stomach more alkaline and the problem worse.

    Water is different than alkaline foods. When you chew and swallow food, acid begins forming in the stomach. It won’t do that with water so much because you’re not chewing and swallowing for long time at a sitting.

    This is partly why too much alkaline water actually inhibits a reflux cure.

    I am a proponent of alkaline water if consumed the way I’ll suggest in a soon to be released natural remedy for reflux… LPR specifically—which is a different animal than GERD. But not guzzling it regularly.

    Besides developing my own natural remedy … trust me I had it bad… and there’s nothing like what I’ll be releasing soon, I’d done extensive research. I really like much of what u offer though. You have some great knowledge. Love the YouTube videos… so cheery. Keep up the great work.

    • James Reply

      You are on the right track. The most common reason for acid reflux is low stomach acid. I am the first person to present this concept about 30 years. ago. But it is not a pH thing. The problem is low stomach acid inhibits proper digestion and promotes fermentation. The fermentation leads to gas formation, which is why people end to bloat before the reflux. The gas puts pressure on the LES. which is a muscle. When this muscle tires out the LES relaxes and the gas with TRACES of acid go up the esophagus leading to the “heartburn”.

      The one other thing that you have incorrect is that you make it sound like stomach acid is only present when you eat. Actually stomach acid is constantly present in the stomach to protect us from ingested pathogens. Levels increase when we eat, think of food and even ingest water since gastric distention also increases stomach acid release.

      Otherwise you are right on about the fact that proton pump inhibitors and highly alkaline waters definitely compound the problem. I will be addressing this in a separate post about this article because there are so many errors in this article.

  8. Oleg Reply

    Ross, what about lemon? 🙂 ( How do those ‘acid but alkalizing’ products fit in that explanation above?)
    Thank you!

  9. Mike Reply

    Hey Ross,

    I’ve been doing a bit of reading on your site. Recently I attended the anti inflammation webinar. All good stuff. I want to join your base camp. Question for you. As a member of the base camp, I get access to all your literature? If so, please send me a link on how to join.

    Thanks, mike.

  10. Joy Reply

    Pls how do I make alkaline water?