Recently, the alkaline diet has joined the roster of it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle trends among wellness aficionados. Why? Here are six of the many reasons: Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Gisele Bunchen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, and Elle Macpherson. When the list of celebrities who swear by the alkaline diet reads as the who’s who of Hollywood, one can’t help but be intrigued. Below, we answer some of the frequent questions about this buzzy new diet.
How does the diet work?
The basis of the alkaline diet is that when you digest something that you eat, it leaves behind by-products—called “ash” within the alkaline diet circles—that are either alkaline or acidic. If there is too much acid in the body, then you experience a variety of ills like arthritis, obesity, and osteoporosis. The key is to move the pH levels of your body towards a more balanced condition by changing the way you eat. Mainly the diet calls for 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.
What are the supposed benefits?
The alkaline diet basically claims wellness from the inside out. Once the body achieves a balanced pH, then you will get more energy, lose weight, and get clear, glowing skin. The immune system also improves so that you are more resistant to health issues.
How did the alkaline diet start?
The idea of food changing the body is not a new concept. In fact, similar beliefs can be found in ayurvedic medicine, which has been around for centuries. Similar to how the keto diet was developed to help those with epilepsy, the alkaline diet had an original medical purpose. It was intended to help prevent kidney stones and urine infections since the pH levels of urine can be influenced by what you eat.
What can you eat if you are on the alkaline diet?
The test of whether food is acidic or alkaline is how it affects the body, and not if it was acidic to begin with. That means just because something is sour, like a lemon, it doesn't mean it is an automatic no for the alkaline diet. In fact, lemons and other citrus fruits are considered healthy within the diet’s guidelines.
The alkaline diet is mainly plant-based. It recommends a lot of fruits like avocados, mangoes, melons, and papayas. All green, leafy vegetables are given a thumbs-up. Animal products such as meats and eggs are considered acid-forming. Heavily processed food, sugar, and grains should also be avoided.
What does a meal plan look like?
While the alkaline diet can be restrictive, it does offer some pretty tasty substitutes to keep you from feeling deprived. For breakfast, try an omelet with spinach and asparagus. But what about the eggs, you say? Remember that most followers go by the 80-20 rule. You can have a bit of acid-forming food in your diet. Have some quinoa with vegetables for lunch. If you are the kind that shudders at the thought of a completely plant-based diet, you can have some fish for dinner. Wild salmon and trout are considered alkaline. You can cap off your day with a smoothie made from almond milk and some fruits.
Can you really achieve alkaline conditions by what you eat?
This is a bit of trick question. The pH of human blood is already naturally alkaline, hovering at an average level of 7.35. Its pH is regulated by the kidneys and lungs and is not influenced by the food you eat. However, an alkaline diet does affect the body in other ways. Having a diet that’s naturally low in cholesterol while being rich in vitamins and minerals is good for cardiovascular health and weight management.
Are there any controversies that surround the alkaline diet?
Die-hard fans of the diet say that avoiding acidic food can prevent cancer. There is no scientific evidence supporting this claim. Also, one of the top advocates of the alkaline diet, Robert O’ Young was sentenced to prison in 2017 for practicing medicine without a license. It has also been criticized for eliminating certain food groups, which are sources of nutrients.
Slim body, glowing skin, more energy—the alkaline diet ticks off most of the checkboxes for the perfect diet. While it does make some claims that teeter towards too-good-to-be-true territory, it’s hard to argue that a diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables while shunning sugary treats and junk food won’t be good for you.