The alkaline diet is the latest health craze to hit Hollywood — Paleo is SO last year darling! Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Aniston and Naomi Watts have all sung its praises. Elle McPherson says she lost weight, had more energy and her skin was not as dry two weeks after embarking on an alkaline diet.
But while the celebs have jumped on the alkaline diet bandwagon, the alkaline diet is not a new concept.
Naturopaths have long prescribed an alkaline diet for optimal health.They say too many acid-forming foods create a breeding ground for disease, while a more alkaline diet makes for a stronger immune system, improved digestion and better skin tone.
The mainstream medical fraternity disputes the theory, saying its the kidneys and lungs that control the pH balance of our blood — not diet. They say the body remains in a slightly alkaline state all the time, regardless of what we eat.
However there is some evidence that a diet low in acid-producing foods, like meat and cheese, and high in fruit and veg, could help prevent kidney stones, keep bones and muscles strong, improve heart health and brain function and lower risk for cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Those who follow an alkaline diet say the proof is in the (sugar-free) pudding. Celebs like Elle report more vitality, more stable moods, clearer skin, weight loss around the belly and fewer sugar cravings.
Perhaps it's more to do with the fact that the types of foods prescribed on an alkaline diet are simply better for us, rather than their effect on the pH of our blood.
THE ALKALINE DIET THEORY
The alkaline diet theory goes that after digestion, all foods have either an acid or alkaline effect on the body. Based on the belief that a more acidic body creates a breeding ground for disease, the diet advocates an 80/20 ratio of alkaline to acid forming foods to create the optimum pH balance in the body.
The acronym 'pH' is short for 'potential to free hydrogen ions' and is a measure of how acid or alkaline any aqueous solution is. Applied to our health, it's basically a measure of how much oxygen is in our blood. The higher a liquid's pH, the more acidic and oxygen deprived it becomes, with fewer free hydrogen ions available; the lower its pH, the more free hydrogen ions it has.
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, and a pH of 7 is neutral. Anything with a pH below 7 is considered acidic; anything with a pH above 7 is alkaline.
Our blood is slightly alkaline, between 7.35 and 7.45. The stomach has a pH of 3.5, which is highly acidic so it can break down food.
HOW CAN AN ALKALINE DIET IMPROVE YOUR SKIN?
Alkaline forming foods are naturally very high in the exact vitamins and minerals needed for good skin — antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
- Lots of fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains and ancient grains such as quinoa and amaranth
- Good fats like coconut oil, avocado and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbal tea
- Coconut water
- Almond milk
- Apple cider vinegar with water
- Green smoothies
- Red meat and chicken
- Processed food
- Biscuits, cakes and bread
- Soft drinks
- Tea and coffee