Most people idolize celebrities and want to look, act, and feel just like them. It’s no surprise that when superstars such as Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Aniston, and Gwyneth Paltrow advocate a special diet everyone wants in on the act. Such is the case with the alkaline diet. The popular theory is that certain foods can help maintain the body’s pH in a healthy range, thus improving general health.
In medicine, pH represents a measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is. On a scale of 0-14, a pH less than 7 is acidic and a pH greater than 7 is alkaline. A pH of 7 is neither acidic nor alkaline and is neutral.
The alkaline diet directs its followers to avoid eating foods that induce acidity when digested, which are foods we are told to avoid or cut back in the first place. The list of these ‘bad’ foods includes dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, meat, and caffeine.
Here is the part that gets overlooked: the human body has a built-in regulatory mechanism that maintains the pH of the blood within its optimal range. The pH of blood is slightly in the alkaline range, about 7.4.
The infamous Western diet is largely responsible for the excessive intake of sugars, fats, and salt in many people’s diets. This causes a condition known as metabolic acidosis and can decrease the pH of the urine. The human body is genetically programmed to accept nutrients from natural foods, which our ancestors ate thousands of years ago.
The good thing about the alkaline diet is that it promotes foods that are ideal for good health, a vegetarian-like diet. This includes fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and soy-based foods.
Some scientific evidence suggests the alkaline diet can help preserve muscle mass, reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, and prevent certain chronic diseases. Results are mixed, however, and it is difficult to determine if the alkaline diet alone can do this without a thorough healthy lifestyle (exercise, sleep, stress management, etc.).
Nutrition experts suggest eating foods most people shy away from: ‘dark, leafy, and green’. An ideal diet for good health is basically salt-free, sugar-free, and taste-free, as much as possible.
One drawback of the alkaline diet is it could restrict nutrients such as calcium and protein. So choose foods wisely. A good guideline is 70% alkaline and 30% acid when considering total dietary intake. Consider consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist for additional guidance.
More research is needed to support the claims of the alkaline diet. In the meantime, dietary experts agree that diet has very little to no influence on the pH of the body. Still, it cannot hurt to try the alkaline diet. If celebrities do it, it must be worthwhile!
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