With summer coming so soon, people are hopping on fad diet bandwagons left and right. Sure, you've heard of the Whole30, juice cleanses, and maybe even the Military Diet. But what about the Alkaline Diet (AKA the pH Diet)? No? No worries—I'll fill you in on everything you need to know about pH-focused eating.
If you've ever taken a chemistry class, you probably know something about pH. But if not, it's a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution, and it ranges from 1 (most acidic) to 14 (most basic). Water is a neutral 7.0.
What is the Alkaline Diet?
The Alkaline Diet operates around the notion that because our bodies are mostly water, we should eat in a way that maintains our relatively neutral pH. It claims that, by eating more alkalizing (read: basic) foods and less acidic foods, you can reduce your risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more.
So what do you eat?
Examples of acidic foods—the ones that this diet excludes—are meat, dairy, eggs, processed grains and oils. Alkalizing foods include whole fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts. The Alkaline Diet suggests that, for optimal pH, you minimize the amount of acidic foods you eat and include as many alkaline foods as possible.
Does it work?
Well...yes. But not because of pH. It turns out you can't really change your body's pH that much, because your kidneys are constantly working to maintain a pH of about 7.4. The real reason why the Alkaline Diet is healthy for you is simply that it encourages eating more whole plant foods. And, obviously, a diet higher in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts has loads of health benefits. On the flip side, limiting your consumption of meat and dairy also reduces your risk for obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular mortality and type-2 diabetes.
So this trendy pH diet has just managed to throw a scientific veil over age-old nutrition recommendations. Try swapping your beef with beans, your dairy with veggies or your usual snack food with nuts more often than not, and you'll be golden.