While some of us have sworn by paleo, plant-based, low-carb, or flexitarian diets for the new year, I'm going to be one to abide to the Alkaline diet. Chances are, a lot of you may have done the same, or have been following it for years without knowing it. 

If you find yourself eating mainly fruits and vegetables, avoiding most refined wheat products and high-starch foods, then you are most likely on an Alkaline Diet. The idea is that one should consume alkaline-promoting foods, to help us regain balance of the pH in our bodies. 

pH and Our Health

lemon, sweet, blood orange, citrus, grapefruit, juice
Jocelyn Hsu

pH is measured by a scale between 0-14, where anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above is alkaline. Our bodies need an optimal pH of around 7 to continue functioning. For example, our blood cannot supply oxygen above 7.44, and therefore can lead to a series of health risks.

Some of your body's vital organs, such as the stomach, have a very acidic environment to help break down your food. Meanwhile, your intestine isn't lined as well, so the bile produced by your liver passes through to help neutralize the acidity and act as a buffer. With this, there are a multitude of buffer systems throughout our bodies to help keep our metabolism in check. 

Why We Need the Alkaline Diet

salad, broccoli, pepper, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, carrot, vegetable
Christin Urso

The belief is that we've seen an increase in high-sodium diets, especially in adults and adolescents, that generate too much acid in our bodies. When this happens, we run the risk of developing metabolic acidosis, something that you may hear alkaline diet advocates referring to. There is also another form of Ketoacidosis, which is probable in both diabetic 1 and 2 patients. Nevertheless, there is also such a thing as alkalosis.  

An alkaline diet can help because it encourages consumption of produce with levels of potassium, thus combatting a high-sodium diet. Think bananas, avocados, leafy greens, as well as dates, raisins, and even citrus.

What you can eat for a balanced alkaline diet

vegetable, guacamole, avocado
 Becca Holstein

The alkaline diet discourages eating eggs, lentils, peanuts and walnuts, cold cuts and processed meats, pasta, rice, bread and packaged wheat products, oats, milk, processed cereals, and high-sodium foods. However, these should not be avoided altogether, because eggs and walnuts, for example, are good sources of protein and unsaturated fats that others would benefit from. 

The diet can seem restrictive of large food groups (i.e. carbs) but on the other hand, it is more flexible than many other popular diets. If you need some inspiration, check out these recipes to help get you started.

1. Citrus and Mint Barley Salad 

Ellen Gibbs

While barley is a whole wheat product, it is well balanced by the fruits and veggies in this salad, making it a fitting meal for the diet. 

2. Dorm-Friendly Buddha Bowl

cheese, salad
Lauren Arendt

Buddha Bowls encourage eating a variety of produce in one sitting so these are the perfect alkaline-friendly meals.

3. Salmon Bake with Citrus-Ginger

parsley, chicken, sauce, meat, vegetable
Shalayne Pulia

The citrus and veggies in this recipe makes it the perfectly balanced alkaline-promoting meal. 

4. Guac-Loaded Sweet Potato Skins

avocado, guacamole
Maddie Cole

Both high in potassium, avocado and sweet potato can be enjoyed at any time on an alkaline diet. Swap the ranch for a healthier option here

5. Strawberry and Beet Pancakes

pie, jam, berry, cream, pastry, sweet, strawberry, cake, chocolate
Kristine Mahan

Don't we all love pancakes for breakfast? So, we might as well use a recipe that will both satisfy and energize. 

6. Lemon-Blackberry Cookies

sweet, cranberry, granola, oat, cookie, chocolate, oatmeal
Hareena Kaur

These gluten-free lemon cookies are so basic, and that's why you should eat them. 

7. Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie

juice, ketchup
Jake Popescu

The alkaline diet encourages raw foods and juices, so feel free to experiment with some. This strawberry lemonade smoothie is a perfect one to start with. 

You may have noticed some of these recipes weren't 100% alkaline, and that's because it's not about cutting things out but restoring the balance in your body through diet. Whether you want to consume alkaline-promoting foods 70-80% of the time, and the other 20-30% other produce, or somewhere in between, it's all left to you. It's diets and lifestyles such as these ones that I believe will be more successful in gaining better health, as it allows you to figure out what's best for your body.