Haven’t heard of the alkalising diet yet? Well, this could be the year it reaches paleo-level notoriety.
One of the diet’s most well-known advocates, Natasha Corrett, is about to launch a new book of alkalising cleansing plans – just in time for the arrival of 2015. Nothing says ‘new year’ like the sudden urge of people everywhere to embark on eating regimens to detox them of all the excesses (and guilt, apparently) of the silly season.
Corrett - who happens to be Sienna Miller's stepsister - is the woman behind Honestly Healthy, which bills itself as the leading alkaline lifestyle guide. The Honestly Healthy bookbooks and blog have found some famous fans in Victoria Beckham and Made in Chelsea star Millie MacIntosh.
So how does alkalising work, and does it actually do anything? We asked Dr Joanna McMillan to give us a rundown...
Dr Joanna McMillan writes: It’s the diet that many celebrities, including Elle McPherson and Victoria Beckham, are touting as their secret to feeling and looking so fabulous.
It’s called the alkaline diet - or sometimes the alkaline-ash diet or alkaline-acid diet - and proponents claim it can help you to lose weight, have more energy, reduce your risk of many chronic diseases including cancer and have stronger bones. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
The theory is that the typical modern Western diet is affecting the acid load on the body, with knock-on negative health effects. Foods that we eat are either acid forming or alkaline forming, with some being more or less neutral. The diet advises limiting the consumption of acid-forming foods, including meat, dairy, highly processed foods, alcohol, grain products and refined sugar (although this is actually not acid or base producing).
Instead, the recommendation is to eat plenty foods that are alkaline forming, predominantly fruits and veggies.
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So the question is, does it work?
Unsurprisingly lots of people will lose weight by following that advice, but not because of any effect of body acidity. Clearly cutting out processed foods, added sugar and alcohol while packing your diet with veggies and fruit is a positive health move and will more than likely reduce your kilojoule intake and boost your nutrient intake. For these changes, this diet certainly gets my tick of approval.
However, there is more to this than meets the eye. Acidity and alkalinity is measured using pH on a scale of 1-14. Neutral is a pH of 7, below 7 indicates acidity and above 7 alkaline. Our blood is slightly alkaline and although it can vary very slightly, the body has sensitive systems to ensure it stays in the range of 7.35-7.45. I have heard people dramatically announce that their bodies are acidic, having had their blood tested. This is just not possible – they would be severely ill or dead! In contrast, other parts of your body are acidic, purposefully.