Our bodies are complex machines. Whether it’s looking after our gut health, balancing our hormones and managing our stress levels, it feels like we’re constantly tinkering to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Just when it feels like we’ve got everything under control, another thing pops up that we should be trying to improve.
A good example of this is your body’s alkaline levels. While researchers have been studying the effects of certain foods on your pH levels for decades, eating alkaline had a resurgence in popularity last year when Elle MacPherson named it her diet of choice. She’s not the only celeb singing the diet’s praise either — Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kirsten Dunst all swear by the diet, too. But how exactly do you ‘alkalise’ your body and is it something the average person needs to worry about doing?
What does ‘alkaline’ actually mean?
‘Alkaline’ simply means that your body has a good pH balance. pH stands for “power of hydrogen” and is a measurement of hydrogen ions in a particular solution — the more ions, the more acidic the solution. pH levels range from 1 to 15: with 1 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral and 15 being the most alkaline.
When your body is in an acidic state, it’s thought that it can’t properly fight off disease and infection. Stress, eating a high amount of acidic foods (meat, processed foods, caffeine, dairy, sugar), drinking too much coffee, tea, soft drink or alcohol and smoking are all thought to make your body more acidic.
Signs that your body may be acidic
Some symptoms of an acidic body are:
- Constantly feeling tired or lethargic
- Brittle hair and nails
- Digestive issues
- Low bone density, osteoporosis
- Poor immune system, constantly getting sick
- Heavy breathing
- Candida (yeast) infection
Obviously, these symptoms can also be a sign of many other health conditions. So, how do you find out whether your pH is normal? Most larger chemists sell pH strips, which allow you to test the levels in your urine. These are thought to give you a fairly accurate reading for the pH levels of your kidneys, especially when done at the same time each morning.
An ideal pH level for us is slightly alkaline at 7.30-7.45. Anything less than 7.30 is considered acidic and the body can’t function if it’s lower than 7. Should you be concerned if a number less than 7.30 shows up? Not necessarily, as each body part has a different pH — so what’s going on in your kidneys may not reflect what’s going in the rest of your body. In this situation, it may be worth asking your doctor for a blood pH test as this is more accurate.
How to make your body more alkaline
The below image is an example of a standard pH chart for an alkaline diet.
As you can see, it’s rather restrictive! But according to nutritionist Lola Berry, trying to stick to a semi-alkaline diet is still beneficial for your body.
The whole idea behind the alkaline diet is changing the pH of our body through the foods we eat. There are loads of different view points and theories but at the end of the day, foods which are classified as alkaline are super healthy. We’re talking fruits and veggies, some fish and some nuts and seeds: whole foods which the body thrives off. So if you eat an 80% alkaline diet, you’ll feel unreal as the body knows how to thrive off that!
Here are some other simple ways you can adopt a more alkaline lifestyle:
- Start the day with a large glass of water and the juice of a whole lemon
- Eat greens with every meal and drink a fresh green juice every day
- Snack on raw unsalted almonds – these are a great source of alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium
- Try to move your body every day, as this helps to move acidic waste products
- Cut down on sugar and cut out soft drinks completely — you need over 30 glasses of neutral water just to neutralise the acidity of ONE can of soft drink!
- Find healthy ways to reduce stress and limit alcohol consumption
- Add sprouts to your diet, as these are extremely alkalising
- Mix ½ tsp of baking soda in a glass of water and drink daily. This is thought to be the most effective and easiest way to bring your pH level up in alkalinity