Foods that naturally fall on the alkaline side of the pH scale when broken down in our bodies are the basis of an alkaline diet, which promises better health as well as a trimmer waistline.
All the foods we eat can be placed on the pH index that measures their acidity. Advocates of an alkaline-based diet claim these foods are easier to process and contain more nutritional value than those with higher acidity.
Fans also point out that our blood is naturally around 7.4 on the pH scale, where one is very acidic and nine is very alkaline.
Western diets are often based around meat (which is no stranger to bad press) and dairy, both of which are acidic when broken down in the body. The idea is to swing the balance back to a majority alkaline diet, focusing on vegetables and whole grains. It goes back to our caveman roots, when hunter gatherers would have eaten mostly vegetables and grains they gathered, with the rare addition of meat.
Principals of an alkaline diet
*Mostly eat vegetarian foods – most are alkaline
*Eat wholegrains over processed foods (such as white bread)
*Acidic-tasting foods such as citrus fruits are actually alkaline when digested
*The most alkaline foods include dates, figs, grapefruit, lemons and limes, fennel, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, kale spinach, watercress and cauliflower
*Alkaline foods give the kidneys a break. For more acidic foods, they often need to use extra minerals such as calcium and magnesium from your bones, to ‘buffer’ the acidity that comes with red meat and fizzy drinks
*Many alkaline foods are packed with mineral-laden water, which is more easily absorbed and helps the body stay hydrated
The health benefits of an alkaline diet
*Improved digestion, including less flatulence and feeling less bloated
*Better skin tone, especially from foods such as seeds and nuts that are rich in essential fats
*Better memory, focus and concentration as blood sugar levels tend to be regulated over a longer period of time
*Improved happiness, as many of the grains satisfy the serotonin receptor sites in the gut which in turn help to elevate mood
*Greatly improved energy levels as many of the most alkaline foods are slow-release carbohydrates and vegetarian proteins that help to keep blood sugar balanced more evenly
*Fewer sugar, caffeine and alcohol cravings