This week’s Alkaline ASA Adjudication: Alkalized Water not as miraculous as they claim

This week the Adverting Standards Authority upheld two complaints about a leaflet and website for Balance Water, advertising the apparently miraculous properties of ‘Alkalized Water’.

And I do mean miraculous… It can ‘refresh your body in ways that no ordinary tap or mineral water has ever been able to do’. Drinking it is ‘one of the best natural protections against all kinds of virus infections such as pneumonia, whooping cough, influenza, measles and other infectious diseases’… It can assist in weight loss, benefit your sex drive, prevent liver disease and kidney failure and even slow down the ageing process. It is ‘up to 6 times more hydrating than conventional water due to its smaller molecular structure allowing it to be more easily absorbed by the cells in the body’. I could go on.

Needless to say, the company were unable to substantiate any of this nonsense and the complaints were upheld. The ASA also pointed out that ‘such claims for foods or drinks’ are prohibited by law.

The extent of pseudoscientific claptrap was impressive and summarising it here doesn’t do it justice – I strongly recommend that you read the adjudication in full.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of alkaline diets, you may assume that ‘alkalized water’ means water which has been made alkaline, perhaps by the addition of an alkaline salt such as sodium bicarbonate. You may assume that there could be possible medical benefits, in that it could perhaps be used to treat heartburn or indigestion. This would be missing the point. The alkaline diet experts would tell you there is a lot more to it than that…

According to Energise for Life, experts in alkalarian living and subjects of my second ASA adjudication, producing Alkaline Water can be an expensive business, requiring a water ionizer which retails at over £1000. But even the alkaline gurus at Energise admit there’s a much cheaper way. This involves taking some ordinary tap water and adding a small quantity of something keen home cooks will already have in the kitchen. And I don’t mean baking soda…

As has already been blogged by Dr. Aust here and here, the alkaline water concept is ‘bullshit’.

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5 responses to “This week’s Alkaline ASA Adjudication: Alkalized Water not as miraculous as they claim

  1. Perhaps we should give it its homeopathic name: “excrementum taureum”.

  2. So you’d have no problem drinking it at 30C dilution?

  3. Thanks for blogging about this and I’m glad to see that the claims have been removed from the website in question. I came across the leaflet a few months ago when the product was being promoted at a stall outside a health food shop and didn’t get very far when I asked for evidence (or at least better evidence).

    The stallholder suggested I fetch some pH testing strips from the nearest chemist (do they sell these?) and satisfy myself that the water was alkaline. When I pointed out that this in itself doesn’t prove that alkaline water is any better for health I was challenged that I didn’t really have any business complaining about it if I wasn’t prepared to make the effort to check the evidence (of its pH!) for myself. Things went downhill after that ;)

    To be honest I’m actually a bit surprised that there’s so little on the website now – I can’t really see anything wrong with selling bottled water (ignoring any ecological concerns) given that it seems to be a very popular commodity. As long as the claims made for it aren’t too outlandish.

    A quick change of bottle label and I’d be happy to buy the water myself – it tasted fine.

  4. Pingback: The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Skeptic News: Balance Water and the ASA

  5. Congratulations on this result to both those who complained and thanks for commenting.

    I’m not sure if chemists generally sell pH testing strips but the alkalarians certainly do. In fact it’s surprising that the health food shop didn’t sell them alongside the special water. The alkaline enthusiasts believe that the pH of your urine is an indicator of how ‘alkaline’ and healthy you are. Dr Aust discusses this in one of the posts linked above (http://draust.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/what-could-be-so-fine%E2%80%A6-as-to-be-alkaline-warning-irony/).

    I’m not sure if this is referring to the same thing but according to this 2008 article from the Daily Mirror (http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice-old/sex-health/sexandrelationships/2008/05/17/exclusive-kirsty-gallacher-i-m-still-waiting-for-a-proposal-hint-hint-115875-20420726/), ‘Boots sell alkaline strips for £6.99 to test if your system is full of toxins’. This was rather shocking and if it had been a recent article, I’d have made a complaint. Incidentally, I have checked the Boots website and have found no such thing. Maybe they pulled them.

    I expect the health food shop salesman was selling the water in good faith and I suppose if you’ve gone through the pointless expense of ‘ionizing’ or ‘alkalizing’ the water then you’d want to be able to advertise the fact. I can’t think what legitimate claims they could make about the product beyond this. It will be interesting to see what the website looks like if and when it is relaunched.

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