When news broke that Giselle Bündchen avoids an entire class of mysteriously named vegetables called nightshades, our ears perked up. With a little digging, we discovered that cutting out tomatoes and potatoes only scratches the surface of a much larger diet trend in Hollywood—one that’s not even about cutting out certain foods. And like all health and nutrition philosophies, this one doesn’t like to be called a diet—it’s a “lifestyle.” (Yes, we know—cue the eye roll.) But with a long roster of super-fit celeb fans like Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Gisele Bündchen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more, we can overlook the cliché lifestyle play. The widespread nutrition trend in question? The alkaline diet. To get all the details on the low-acid phenomenon, we turned to the foremost authority on all things alkaline, renowned health and wellness coach Dr. Daryl Gioffre.
Scroll through to find out what all the hype is about!
“The philosophy of the alkaline lifestyle is this: Fueling your body with alkaline-rich foods and decreasing your acid intake will naturally balance and regulate your pH levels so your body doesn't have to do all the work in regulating it on its own,” Dr. Gioffre says. “When you are pumping damaging acids into your body all day long, your body has to work so much harder to maintain its delicate pH, and this drains your energy and affects your body’s ability to heal itself.”
It makes sense if you think of it simply in terms of digestion. Some foods are easily to digest—like eggs, leafy green vegetables, and fresh fruit like avocado—and some foods are harder for your digestive system—like corn, dairy, and gluten. Adopting an low-acid food approach just takes this notion a step further.
When talking about pH levels, 14.0 is pure alkaline, 7.0 is neutral, and 3.0 is acidic (0 is pure acid). Your body maintains a slightly alkaline level around 7.2–7.4. However, most modern diets and lifestyles pump our bodies with acid, throwing off the healthy, balanced pH. In order to get that number back to its ideal spot, you need to eat fewer acidic foods and more alkaline foods.
“Most fruits and vegetables are naturally alkaline, even the ones you might think are acidic, such as lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tomatoes,” Dr. Gioffre says. These foods have an acidic pH until they’re consumed, and then after they’re metabolized, they become very alkaline-forming to your body because of their high mineral and low sugar content. On the contrary, some things you might not expect to be acidic—such as breads, dairy, pastas, and meat—are full of harmful and damaging acids.”
Contrary to many of the extreme diets in Hollywood, Dr. Gioffre emphasizes going alkaline is about balance. “Getting healthy is not about deprivation; it’s moderation,” Dr. Gioffre says. The diet has a fairly reasonable 80/20 expectation. “Your daily diet should consist of 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods,” he says. “Strive to make vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and low-sugar fruits the main part of your daily meal plan, and try to limit your consumption of coffee, alcohol, dairy, and meat, which are all highly acidic foods.”
The best alkaline fruits include lemons, limes, grapefruit, avocado, coconut (any form of it), and pomegranates. The best alkaline veggies include tomatoes, red bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, cabbage, and broccoli. Limit your intake of the more acidic fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, apricots, mangos, pineapples, and any kind of dried fruits. And yes, Gisele gets (another) gold star for shunning potatoes—they’re the one vegetable Dr. Gioffre says you should avoid.
Dr. Gioffre recommends making salads and smoothies to ensure you’re incorporating a healthy range of alkaline foods. In a nutshell, it’s the advice you’ve heard countless times before: Shop the produce section, and avoid processed foods. Of course, sometimes busy schedules get in the way of farmers’ market–fresh salads, which is why Dr. Gioffre also recommends adding two daily alkaline supplements, like AlkaMind, to your water every day.
It all sounds pretty straightforward, right? But as with all health and fitness trends, there are going to be some critics. “If you’ve done any researching on the alkaline diet, you probably ran into some naysayers who say that eating and drinking alkaline is worthless because you can’t change your blood pH,” Dr. Gioffre says.
“Well, that isn’t exactly right, and by saying this, they’re missing the entire point. The purpose of eating alkaline is not to raise your pH. The purpose of eating alkaline is to make the balancing process easier for your body by giving it the necessary minerals and nutrients it needs to neutralize the acid so that it doesn’t have to fight the acid on its own. And once your body doesn't have to waste so much energy fighting off acid, your body will heal instead of react, and you’ll see all kinds of benefits in the way you look and feel.”
Dr. Gioffre stresses going alkaline is beneficial to every aspect of your health from the inside out. “If you’re overweight, having skin issues, or low in energy, it’s an acid problem,” Dr. Gioffre says. “The fastest way to neutralize the acids in your body that are causing these issues is with alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium bicarbonate. Alkaline foods are loaded with these minerals, and when your diet consists of these types of foods, your body doesn’t have to work so hard to balance its pH levels.”
The result? Weight loss, energy, and a laundry list of health benefits. “When you ‘get off your acid,’ you'll find that you have more energy, less pain, a stronger immune system, better focus, deeper sleep, improved digestion, your skin begins to glow, and the fat literally melts off your body!”
Seems realistic enough, right? Could you handle the alkaline diet? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!