Why this diet praised by Jennifer Aniston could work for you

  • Mary Caldwell
  • For the AJC
10:40 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 Atlanta health, diet and fitness news

Like many health trends, the alkaline diet started with a book and soared in popularity when celebrities began to tout its benefits.

The diet began with the book "The pH Miracle," which was published in 2010. Victoria Beckham tweeted a photo of an alkaline diet cookbook in 2013, and celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have since sung its praises.

The goal of the Alkaline Diet is avoiding disease and losing weight. The diet claims that you can do this by eating specific foods that make your body more alkaline, which increases the PH levels in your body, and by avoiding foods that make your body produce acid.

The theory behind the diet is that when your body metabolizes food, you produce byproducts that are either acidic or alkaline. According to Self, eating acidic foods is unhealthy, because it makes your body's pH level too acidic, thus making it more vulnerable to disease. 

The pH level measures how acidic or alkaline something is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being totally acidic, 14 being totally alkaline, and seven being neutral. Your stomach, for example, is very acidic, because stomach acid is needed to break down food, while your blood remains quite constant with a slightly alkaline level (unless you're extremely ill). Meanwhile, the pH of your urine changes constantly, reflecting what you eat.

JOHN KARSTEN MORAN/NYT
Peas for a white bean stew with carrots, fennel and peas, boil in a pot in New York, March 6, 2017. White beans are welcome in any season, though this dish is perfect for spring, with its bright green peas. (Karsten Moran/The New York Times)

You'd think that because lemons are acidic, they would be avoided under the Alkaline Diet's guidelines. But, according to Self, it's actually considered to be alkaline, since they're broken down into an alkaline substance in our bodies. It all comes down to how foods affect the acidity of your urine.

If you want to follow the diet strictly, U.S. News & World Report says that 80 percent of your foods and beverages should be alkaline-forming and only 20 percent should be acid-forming. Many people are less strict and opt instead for a ratio of 60 percent alkaline-forming to 40 percent acid-forming.

The following foods are encouraged under the Alkaline Diet:

Jason Getz
When you get a fresh batch of these rolls, you’ll wonder why you don’t get this kind of bread more often. The perfect mix of yeast, sweetness, puff and steam. (23 N. Park Square, Marietta. 678-224-1599, eatlocaleatbetter.com)

Alkaline diet guidelines discourage consumption of the following foods and beverages:

Many experts (including those in U.S. News & World ReportHealthline and Self) believe the diet may be able to help you lose weight and improve your health. But that's because you'll be eating more fruits and vegetables and less red meat, sugary snacks and processed foods − not because of any claims about acidic or alkaline foods.

There's no evidence that eating acidic or alkaline foods affects your weight or makes you any more or less prone to disease, experts say. Acidic or alkaline foods don't change the pH of your blood, which stays within a very narrow range no matter what you eat. And these foods change the pH of your urine only temporarily. 

Most dietitians encourage eating lean meats, dairy and whole grains, which goes against their exclusion in alkaline diet.

Additionally, many of the experts cited n Healthline and Self, state that, like many restrictive diets, the alkainline diet may be impractical and difficult to follow over the long-term.

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