The Alkaline Diet – If you hadn’t realised, 2013 is the year that we all go hard core for health.
Now this can be great, getting a bit more clued up about healthy eating is obviously a winner, but some of the diets that have burst onto our scenes promising us the world have caused a ruckus with the experts.
The Alkaline diet is one of these. The most recent version of the diet, the Honestly Healthy Alkaline Programme, involves eating a diet consisting of predominantly alkaline foods to keep your body’s pH levels between 7.35 and 7.45.
This is not just help you lose weight, oh no that’s so 2012, if followed correctly this diet claims to improve heart disease, insomnia, mood and memory, balance your hormones and natural immunity as well as strengthening your hair, nails and teeth.
This is not just some random diet either, with converts like Victoria Beckham, Kristen Dunst and Gwyneth Paltrow (seriously, where does she find the time), a best-selling book and some pretty delicious looking recipes this diet is big news for 2013.
So if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ve taken a look at everything you need to know about this diet and talked to the experts too to make sure you’re in the know.
How does it work?
The Alkaline diet is based around the fact that our blood is slightly alkaline and so the theory goes that to make our bodies run at its best our diet should aim to reflect this too.
According to the diet theory the foods that the majority of us all eat – meat, pasta, rice – are highly acidic which disrupts the natural alkaline balance and makes it more likely for us to gain weight and more prone to illness.
Nutritional therapist Dr. Elisabeth Phillips says: “It’s all about balance. The aim of an alkalising diet is not to banish all acidic foods, such as meats and certain grains, but to ensure we are eating an appropriate balance of whole foods including generous daily portions of alkalising foods such as vegetables and sprouted seeds.
“Sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods are the worst culprits so should be avoided at best, or greatly reduced. Increasing alkaline foods in the diet provides more essential nutrients, which support all areas of our health.”
The aim for alkaline dieters is to eat around 70 percent alkaline foods and 30 percent acidic foods. The diet is not based around calorie counting or portion control, which is a refreshing change but this hasn’t stopped some experts saying that technically it’s just another fad diet.
Nutritionist, ex-NHs dietitian Sam Perkins says: “The Alkaline diet is way less ‘faddy’ than many diets in that no whole food groups are ‘banned’. This means that for people who enjoy this way of eating and are happy being predominantly vegetarian, it may be easy to sustain for a long period of time.”
But, and this is quite a big but, Sam says that the reason most experts are wary of this diet is because the theory is not actually based on any scientific information.
“It is not based on any scientific evidence at all and contradicts what we know about how digestion works in the body entirely.”
“The thinking behind the diet is that eating foods which are alkaline (high pH) helps maintain the body’s optimum pH level. But we know that our stomach produces acid that is far stronger than any food we eat and the body maintains optimum pH level regardless of the food we eat”, she warns.
Plus as you’re cutting out foods such as meat, fish, pasta, wheat, as well as all dairy products, tea, coffee and alcohol it might not be exactly as super-easy to follow for most people.
Despite the fact the diet is not based on scientific evidence the experts admit that the physical evidence confirms that you will see pretty impressive results from this diet.
Dr. Phillips says you’ll be able to see a difference in your energy levels, weight and even in your skin!
“By following an alkalising diet for a month you would expect to feel an increase in energy with more get up and go. Your skin health greatly benefits also, as high intake of acidic foods (in particular sugar) contribute to premature ageing resulting in wrinkles and lacklustre skin tone.”
“Cellular ageing also happens internally so alkalising diets slow this process, greatly improving health. Inflammatory symptoms, such as joint stiffness, arthritis, headaches and backaches, may also subside.”
The way that this will effect your weight loss is mainly as you’ll be eating foods which are naturally way lower in calories anyway and you’ll be allowing your digestive system to work to it’s optimum levels.
“Alkalising foods gently support the digestive system helping to reduce uncomfortable systems such as bloating and digestive discomfort – weight loss results!”, Dr. Phillips says.
Even Sam says that you’ll lose weight on this diet but mainly because the because it follows the basic principals of healthy eating.
“By increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables and decreasing high fat, high sugar foods, most people would lose weight on this diet”, she says.
You’ll be eating way more fruit and vegetables which can only be a good thing in the long run.
Not only will you be healthier generally but you’ll also see the benefits in your skin and your energy levels as well as the potential health benefits.
Unlike other diets it is not overly constricted or based on calorie counting, so the motivation to continue with the diet will most likely be much higher.
If you follow the Honestly Healthy Alkaline Programme then you’ll have plenty of delicious recipes at your fingertips for inspiration.
As with any diet, if you slip back to your old eating habits it is more than likely that you’ll put all of the weight that you lose straight back on.
Although the foods that you’ll be eating will be really good for you there is a risk of a lack of essential proteins. Despite the fact it’s not overly constricting it can be pretty complicated at times.
The main thing that the experts think is wrong with this diet is that it’s based on no scientific evidence and so could potentially be misleading.
Sam says: “I think this diet overcomplicates healthy eating and makes claims about improving long term health which we have no proof of.”
Also, want to know the way you test your pH level? It involves testing your own urine, lovely.
All in all the alkaline diet has the experts divided but is not going to do you any major damage if you follow it in a sensible fashion and on the whole has a lot of great points!
Plus many people have seen incredible results, but just remember the warnings from the experts and to always consult your GP if you’re considering a major change in your diet.