The alkaline diet is a healthy eating trend currently making waves across the globe.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham are among the celebrities to hail the brilliance of eating ‘alkalising’ foods and the health benefits they can bring.
The basis of the alkaline diet is that too much animal protein and low levels of fruit and vegetables undermines health – ‘acidifying’ the body’s pH balance and leading to an increased risk of disease.
Eating a high alkaline diet is thought improve energy levels, slow down the ageing process and prevent the development of health conditions such as osteoporosis.
A high acid diet tends to include red meat, processed meat, hard cheese and fried foods. The acidity value is calculated via a PRAL score – the potential renal acid load.
In reality, there is little evidence to support these claims. Many experts believe that the alkaline theory is warped because the body already has a system for regulating its acid/alkaline levels.
Despite this, medical researcher Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet – from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research – believes there is an element of truth behind the impact acidic foods can have on the body.
Insulin resistance in particular is a main concern, which she says is “becoming more common than in the past and occurring more frequently at younger ages.”
A 2013 French study also highlights a link between acidic diets and insulin resistance. Researchers surveyed 60,000 women and found that diets with more acid load were linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.
Certainly today, diets high in acidic foods and low in fruit and vegetables are more common. Diabetes is also on the rise, and there are now 371 million people worldwide with the condition.
As for links between a high acid diet and other health problems, evidence is limited, although some studies suggest loss of bone density can result from diets high in protein.
Generally it is considered healthier to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit the consumption of processed foods. Whether this has anything to do with the ‘alkalising’ quality of these foods, however, is something only more research can tell us.