Nutrition

Your Alkaline Foods Guide | Why You Don’t Need the Alkaline Diet

An alkaline diet has been touted as a way to reduce the acid load of your diet, boost the body’s energy levels and improve health. But it is important to remember that the pH of your body is tightly regulated by your kidneys and there is very little evidence to show that dietary choices will affect your body’s ph.1  

As well as this, different parts of your body have a different natural pH in order to function properly. For example, your stomach has a pH between 1.35 and 3.5 and your skin has a pH between 4 and 6.5. 1 

No amount of spinach in your diet is likely to change this. That being said, increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet is associated with a number of health benefits. 2 

What is the Alkaline Diet? 

The alkaline diet focuses on consuming foods that supposedly have an alkaline effect on your body. The idea is to avoid foods that create a build-up of acid such as meat, dairy and fish. Foods that proponents of the diet claim alkalise your body include specific fruits and vegetables. 

 

How does it work? 

The theory behind the diet is that by eating alkaline foods that will alter your body’s pH, i.e., make your body more alkaline – leading to improved energy levels and a range of health benefits. 

Whilst reducing meat consumption and increasing vegetable intake is associated with a number of health benefits, the strength of the science behind an alkaline diet has been questioned1. Although eating ‘alkaline’ foods may make the urine more alkaline, they will not change the pH of your blood, which is tightly regulated by the kidneys.

 

Benefits of alkaline foods  

Whilst there is currently limited evidence to show that dietary choices will change the pH of your body (this is tightly regulated by your kidneys), increasing the number of alkaline foods such as the vegetables and fruits listed above may help improve your overall health.  

Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables will ensure you are consuming a wide range of micronutrients and an appropriate amount of dietary fibre. But we’re pretty sure you know that already. 

 

What are the drawbacks?

Low in protein  

As a majority of high protein food are acidic, eating an alkaline diet would make it difficult to meet your protein requirements. 

For example, meat, fish, dairy and even lentils would all be excluded. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle and day to day function and eliminating all those protein sources can have long term negative implications.

 

Excludes otherwise healthy foods 

To make dietary choices based solely on their effect on PRAL means you will be excluding a number of otherwise healthy foods. 

For example, citrus fruits, apples and bananas would all be excluded despite being a great source of healthy vitamins, minerals and fibre.

 

What foods can you eat? 

Here’s Check out our list of alkaline foods, along with and all of their benefits and micronutrient content…

1. Spinach

This leafy green is a great source of vitamin K, which important for the health of your bones. Spinach is also a good source of iron with 100g providing 1.9mg of your recommended iron intake (9mg for men and 14.5mg for women aged between 19 and 50). 

And on top of all of this, spinach is also a good source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant helping to maintain immune function and healthy skin. Definitely one to add to your shopping list.  

 

2. Kale

Like spinach, Kale is another great source of vitamin K, if you don’t believe us 100g of kale provides 831% of your daily vitamin K reference intake! Kale is also a very good source of fibre with 100g providing 3.7g. 3 Fibre is important for maintaining digestive health and may also help if you are trying to lose weight as it will help you feel fuller for longer. 4 

Kale also is a fantastic source of vitamin C, essential for a healthy immune system and maintaining healthy skin.

Not sure what to eat your kale with? Try out this recipe.

Skillet Sweet Potato Frittata With Kale & Onion

Recipes

Skillet Sweet Potato Frittata With Kale & Onion

Look no further for an easy lunchtime fix.

2018-10-03 16:54:07By Jennifer Blow

 

3. Avocado

Avocados are great source of healthy fats with a typical avocado providing 17g of monounsaturated fat, 58% of your daily reference intake. 

Alongside this, an avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which helps maintain healthy eyes and skin and helps strengthen your immune system. The recommended amount of vitamin E is 15mg with a whole avocado providing 4.5mg. So incorporating some avo toast in the morning won’t go a miss.

Try our avo bakes eggs next time your stuck for breakfast inspo.

4. Banana

Bananas make for a great post workout snack as they are a good source of carbohydrates with a glycaemic load of 20 (high glycaemic carbs are the most effective at restoring glycogen levels post exercise 5 .) 

Bananas also contain vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium. A medium banana will also provide 1.4g of fibre. They also make a brilliant smoothie ingredient, and of course banana bread for those bananas that you forgot to eat. 

 

5. Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are an especially good source of vitamin C (100g provides 250% RI) and a good source fibre. Blackcurrants also provide a range of a polyphenols and antioxidants and may help enhance immunity. And they’re really tasty too. 

 

6. Apricots

Apricots provide a range of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. They are also a good source of fibre, especially dried apricots, which provide 22g per 100g – 86% of your daily reference intake. 

 

7. Carrots

They might not actually help you see in the dark, but carrots are a great source of vitamin A which has a range of important functions. They help maintain a healthy immune system, your vision and keeping the skin healthy. 

Adults need 600ug – 700ug of vitamin A a day and a medium sized carrot provides 1314ug. Vitamin A is stored in the body so you don’t necessarily need to consume this amount every day, but a carrot provides a good amount to top up your levels. 

 

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and folates (B9). 

Folates are a B-vitamin required to make red and white blood cells and is especially important during pregnancy. The recommended daily amount of folate is 400mg. Also a brilliant meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. 

 

9. Green beans

Like cauliflower, green beans are also a good source of folates with 100g providing 29% of your RI. Green beans also provide a range of minerals such as manganese, potassium, iron and magnesium. Green beans are also another good source of fibre with 100g containing 4.1g. 

They’re also really easy to throw on the side of pretty much any meal for a quick hit of your essential vitamins. 

 

10. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes containing a wide range of minerals (potassium, manganese and copper), a great source of vitamin A and like avocados they are a good source of vitamin E. They also have a high antioxidant content which may help protect your body from free radicals. Due to their high fibre content (3.1g per 100g), they may also help to improve gut health. 

They’re also a great substitute for regular potato mash if you want a little more bang for your buck in terms of vitamins.

Now drool over our fully loaded sweet potato skins…

 

Benefits of alkaline foods 

Whilst there is currently limited evidence to show that dietary choices will change the pH of your body (this is tightly regulated by your kidneys), increasing the number of alkaline foods such as the vegetables and fruits listed above may help improve your overall health. 

Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables will ensure you are consuming a wide range of micronutrients and an appropriate amount of dietary fibre. 

 

Take Home Message 

The evidence is currently limited to show that consuming alkaline foods will change the pH of your body. Your body’s pH varies across the body and it is tightly regulated by your kidneys. 

However, increasing the number of plant-based foods in your diet is associated with a number of increased health benefits and increasing your fruit and veg consumption will increase the nutrient diversity of your diet and improve your fibre intake.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


  1. Schwalfenberg GK. “The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?” J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:727630.doi:10.1155/2012/727630 
  2. Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, Appleby PN,BeralV, Reeves G, Burr ML, Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R, Kuzma JW, Mann J, McPherson K. “Mortality in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a collaborative analysis of 8300 deaths among 76,000 men and women in five prospective studies.” Public Health Nutr. 1998 Mar;1(1):33-41. doi: 10.1079/phn19980006. PMID: 10555529.
  3. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attach ment_data/file/618167/government_dietary_recommendations.pdf, 2021. 
  1. Lockyer, S., Spiro, A. and Stanner, S. (2016), “Dietary fibre and the prevention of chronic disease – should health professionals be doing more to raise awareness?” Nutr Bull, 41: 214-231. https://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12212 
  2. Murray B, Rosenbloom C. “Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes.” Nutr Rev. 2018;76(4):243-259. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy001 


Liam Agnew

Liam Agnew

Sport and Performance Nutritionist

Liam is a certified sport nutritionist with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and is enrolled on the British Dietetics Association’s Sport and Exercise Nutrition register. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and is graduate of the ISSN Diploma in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

Liam is an experienced personal trainer, helping clients reach their health and fitness goals with practical, evidence informed exercise and nutrition advice. In his spare time Liam has competed in numerous powerlifting competitions and enjoys hill walking, football and expanding his recipe repertoire in the kitchen.

Find out more about Liam's experience here.


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