What is the alkaline diet and why is everyone Googling it?

Today we’re looking at the alkaline diet, a meal structure that’s maintained its popularity ever since Victoria Beckham tweeted her appreciation for it back in 2013.

We need to change our relationship with the word “diet” from a term linked to crash and binge eating habits to one associated with fuelling our bodies healthily for the long-term.

Which is why it’s worth doing your research into the diets tipped to help improve our health.

What is the alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet works on the premise that modern diets cause our bodies to produce too much acid. “The theory is that excess acid in the body is turned into fat, leading to weight gain,” says the NHS. Advocates of the diet also claim that excess acid in our body can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney and liver disorders and even cancer.

It therefore follows the logic that by eating an alkaline-rich diet, we can alter and optimise the pH within our body and our blood stream, maintaining a healthy alkaline level. However, experts say there is no evidence to suggest that this is true. The NHS has stated “There’s no evidence that you can change your body’s blood activity (pH level) through what you eat. Meanwhile, Cancer Research UK have discounted claims that an alkaline diet can prevent cancer as “biological nonsense”.

“Your urine can and does change pH depending on what you’ve eaten,” they say, but not for any meaningful amounts of time, “any extra acid or alkali is simply peed out”. It’s this, they say, that’s led to the mistaken belief that our diet can directly impact the pH of our body.

That said, experts do agree that the premise of the diet can be beneficial, though for a different reason. Lots of alkaline-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, seeds, and nuts do tend to be a healthier choice than high-acid food and drink such as sugar, alcohol and processed foods. “The diet contains plenty of good healthy eating advice, such as cutting down on meat, avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods, and eating more fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and legumes,” say the NHS.

What can I and can’t I consume on the alkaline diet?

You’re advised to consume:

  • Most fruits
  • Most vegetables
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

You’re advised not to consume:

  • Processed foods like canned veg and crisps
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Most grains
What are the benefits of the alkaline diet?

Much of the diet involves “cutting out foods you may normally eat and replacing them with healthier choices, which will also reduce your calorie intake,” say the NHS. It’s this, that’s more likely to be behind any weight loss since much of the diet plan contains “standard healthy weight loss advice,” they say.

What are the drawbacks of the alkaline diet?

Upping fruit and veg can be beneficial, but cutting out entire food groups, particularly dairy and lean protein-rich meats can cause nutritional deficiencies. Dairy and, for instance, are important for bone health and can help to protect against osteoporosis. Therefore, if you’re removing items from your diet, you need to make sure you’re supplementing them with the correct nutrients.

How to follow the alkaline diet safely?

As with everything, our diets should be about moderation. Before making changes to your diet, check with your GP, particularly if you’re in a vulnerable group. That said, for most people a largely alkaline diet, that incorporates a small amount of dairy and meat proteins can promote a balanced lifestyle.

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