Since Victoria Beckham’s famous 2013 tweet, in which she touts the benefits of her alkaline diet cookbook, alkaline diets have become a Hollywood favourite. These diets do all the good things; they’re usually vegan or vegetarian, they cut out salty, sugary, processed foods and help us lose weight. But at the core of these diets is the desire to maintain and regulate the pH of our blood, but to understand the benefits of doing so, we to know what pH is, and where do supplements fit into all of this?
What is pH anyway?
Well, putting our science hats on for a few moments, we need to understand that pH is a measure of acidity. Acid and alkaline are opposites. When it comes to pH, the closer to 0 something is, the more acidic it is. This means that to make our diets less acidic, we need to raise the pH of what we eat. For our bodies to function properly, our blood should be slightly alkaline, meaning that our blood pH is around 7.35 and 7.45. A blood pH that is much more acidic than this, known as acidosis, is a symptom of many medical problems ranging from respiratory problems to metabolic problems.
So, why is Alkaline good?
Large amounts of acid in your diet can cause all sorts of problems. For example, lots of acid can contribute to acid erosion of the teeth, a process that causes teeth to become brittle, translucent and vulnerable to damage. There is also some medical evidence that diets that are low in acid producing foods, such as red meat and dairy, also have certain health benefits; these include keeping bones strong and lower risk of developing type two diabetes. A study which was in the March 2008 edition of the American journal of clinical nutrition considered the evidence that alkaline diets reduce muscle wastage, particularly in older people, and may also have a positive impact on reducing back pain.
However, there are others who believe that a western diet is far, far too acidic and that it is important to do more to fight that acidity. Although there is no scientific evidence for this, some people believe that continually eating acid producing food will slowly lower the pH of your blood away from a healthy range and start to increase your risk of all sorts of problems. These people believe that it is important to re-align the pH of your blood with a healthier range. So, proponents of high alkaline diets believe that these offer benefits when it comes to losing weight, preventing arthritis and even fighting cancer.
So why are supplements better?
The problem with dieting, as a means to cut out acid producing food, is that it would require many of us to adjust our diets a lot. It means cutting out most wheat based products, going vegetarian and nearly vegan (cutting out diary) and eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. Whilst that is all great, it is a lot of hard work for most people. Enter alkaline supplements. Alkaline supplements, such as the original PH booster drops, Alkalife, seem, according to some scientific studies, to be able to produce a measurable change in both blood pH and the pH of our urine. Comparing people who had taken alkaline supplements, to those who had not, scientists, at University Hospital Freiburg in Germany, were able to measure a small increase in blood pH for up to a week in the people who had been taking alkaline supplements.
It’s clear that many people in the modern world don’t eat very healthy diets and that an acid producing diet is often a salty, fatty and sugary one. However, being busy, many people don’t have the time to run around swapping different things in and out. Whilst supplements on their own will not do everything for you, one of easiest, stress-free ways to get the benefits of having less acidic blood is to combine your healthier diet is to supplement them with a little help. Whilst you should consult a doctor if your blood pH is wildly off track, giving your body a little boost with a high pH, low acidity pill, can’t hurt.