The alkaline diet is one of the breakout diets of 2013. It promises to improve energy levels and memory as well as help prevent headaches, bloating, heart disease, muscle pain and insomnia. Its been wildly spoken of and remarked by A-list celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow.
What is it? The Honestly Healthy Alkaline Programme, set up by nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson and organic chef Natasha Corrett, involves eating mainly alkaline foods in order to keep the body’s pH between 7.35 and 7.45. The ultimate aim is to eat 80 per cent alkaline foods and 20 per cent acidic foods.
It sounds a bit complicated? To really know what your pH levels are you need to test your urine: a far from glamorous experience. On top of this you have to keep an eye not just on what you eat but how you cook it. For example, raw spinach is alkaline, but when cooked it becomes acidic. As a general rule, which foods are acidic and which foods are alkaline? Almost all foods we eat, after they have been digested, break down into either an acidic or alkaline base.
On that basis: Fresh fruit, vegetables, roots, nuts, and legumes are all good. Dates, figs, grapefruit, lemon, lime, fennel, broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, kale, spinach, watercress and cauliflower are considered the most alkaline. Pasta, wheat, all dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish, coffee, tea, sugar, fizzy drinks and alcohol are all out.
Aside from weight loss, what are the benefits? There are bold claims that cutting out acidic foods and sticking to a mainly alkaline-based diet can help with a range of problems including arthritis, diabetes and cancer, as well as slowing the ageing process. The authors of Honestly Healthy, Vicki Edgson and Natasha Corrett, say that the diet can improve energy levels and memory and help prevent headaches, bloating, heart disease, muscle pain and insomnia.
Alkaline foods are easier for the digestive system to break down and therefore vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed. Plus, the seeds and nuts recommended as part of the diet are rich in essential fats which help to improve skin tone.
How can I follow the diet? Stick to the 80/20 rule. So, your daily meals will consist mainly of vegetables and then a smaller quantity of grains and proteins. The Honestly Healthy cookbook has a whole load of tasty and alkaline recipes.