Fed up with counting those calories? Balance your body with our easy-to-follow weight loss diet plan
If you want to a slimmer physique, why not try the pH diet? The diet uses what we eat to restore our body to its naturally alkaline state. pH (potential of hydrogen) indicates how acidic or akaline a solution might be. The higher the pH, the more alkaline it is. When the food we eat ‘burns’ with oxygen in our cells to produce energy a residue is made that is acidic, alkaline or neutral, which is a pH 7. Our kidneys, skin and lungs try to get rid of the residues left by acid-forming foods through urine, sweat and breath. The PH diet suggests that acidic residues in the body accumulate and this slows the body down, causing low energy, lifeless skin and weight problems. ‘Acid-forming foods, such as meat, dairy and sugar, can cause and aggravate inflammatory conditions in the body,’ explains Yvonne Bishop-Weston, nutrition consultant at the Foods for Life clinic in Harley Street. This can be felt in aches and pains in your body, as well as skin problems, like eczema and acne, and digestive problems, like IBS.
Getting the balance right
According to the pH diet, we should be eating 60-80 per cent alkaline-forming and 20-40 per cent acid-forming foods to get the balance right. Bharti Vyas, co-author of The pH Diet and celebrity beauty therapist, says that a plate of food should be 70 per cent vegetables to get this balance. Vegetables, low-sugar fruits and herbal teas are all alkaline-forming foods. Unfortunately, the taste of a food won’t give away whether it forms an alkaline or acidic residue in the body. Plus, we may think of lemons as being acidic, but they are actually alkaline-forming in the body!
The weight-loss link
Balancing your diet to get the right pH makes sure your system is not overloaded, which reduces your energy, says Bharti. If the excretory organs become exhausted and cannot break down all the acidic wastes, they are stored or solidified, to the bad, LDL cholesterol, for example. Fat cells inflate when they store acid, which is why a PH balance in your diet is linked with weight-loss.
Glenys Jones, a nutritionist at the Medical Research Council, Human Nutrition Research centre, sees it in another way. She says: ‘if you reduce foods like sugar and cheese, which tend to cause urine to be quite acidic, those foods have quite a high number of calories. If you replace them with more alkaline foods such as vegetables, which have a lower energy density, you tend to eat fewer calories.’
Some of the vegetables should be eaten raw, Bharti suggests. Enzymes in food, that convert it into materials the body can use, are usually destroyed through cooking or processing. So eating raw foods means that your body is not overloaded by more materials it has to remove toxins from. Be careful not to overcook food too, as burnt or barbecued food is more acidic.
Exercise and the PH diet
The pH diet suggests that eating a lot of protein may mean you suffer from bladder infections. Glenys points out more alkaline-forming foods can make urinary tract infections, like cystitis, more comfortable. We often suffer with these infections because we get hot and sweaty when exercising, especially when wearing tight-fitting clothes. Infections can also be avoided by drinking cranberry juice. This has strong antibiotic properties, but in the long-term will just acidify your body.
However, an alkaline diet can mean fitness fanatics have extra acid-forming salt in their diet, says Glenys. ‘This salt comes from electrolyte drinks and eating a lot of bread as a quick, easy snack when starving after the gym,’ she explains. However, drinking water can help neutralise this acidity in your body. Water will help flush out the acid toxins and hydrate your body. Adding a lemon or lime can also make your water alkaline. The PH diet suggests drinking a glass of water on the hour, every hour until it becomes habit, from eight in the morning until six at night.
Transform your diet
Bharti Vyas, co-author of The pH Diet, recommends starting your morning with a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon. ‘Lemons are alkaline and your body doesn’t have to fight to warm the water up. Have breakfast in about 20 minutes,’ Bharti advises.
•Cow’s milk and wheat are acidic, so try a breakfast of millet rice with alkaline-forming milk, like soya or goat’s milk with a sprinkling of seeds.
Variety can help you get a PH balance in your body. So try a large mixed salad for lunch. A salad niçoise’s acid-forming eggs and fish are balanced by the alkaline-forming vegetables, like olives and raw tomatoes.
•Replace meat at lunchtime with some of the more alkaline-forming plant-based proteins, like beans. Peas, soya and green beans are all good additions to your salad.
•Vegetable juices can help balance any meal that includes a lot of acid-forming protein. You may want to drink vegetable juices for a couple of weeks to build up your body’s alkalinity, before mixing acid-forming fruit juices with them. Try carrot and ginger juice and later a sweeter carrot and apple juice!
•Chicken sautéed with pine nuts and pears is a must to try. Pears are great because they contain phosphorous and potassium, minerals that play a part in cleansing the body of its acidic toxins. The acidity formed by the protein and nuts can be neutralised.
•Swap the meat in a moussaka for vegetables. Use lentils for some protein and alkaline-forming vegetables, like aubergines, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms, will balance that crispy cheese.
Of all the different nuts, almonds contain the most calcium and even more magnesium. This gives them a good ratio for an alkaline-forming food. One study found a 12 per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in people consuming 100mg of almonds a day for nine weeks.
Some minerals are acidic, but considered beneficial because they cleanse the liver, kidneys and bladder of its acidic waste. Phosphorous and sulphur, found in the juice of carrots, are two of these. Slightly steam your carrots, Bharti recommends, to get more vitamin A than you would from raw carrots.
Quinoa is a good alkaline swap for acid-forming grains like wheat. It contains the alkaline minerals zinc and magnesium that neutralise acidity in the body.