05/05/2015 10:19 BST | Updated 04/05/2016 06:12 BST

Why Eat Alkaline?


So what's all this talk about an alkaline diet you've been hearing lately and what exactly does it mean? Well remember those chemistry lessons where the teacher handed out strips of litmus paper so you could test the pH of a substance and record whether it was acidic or alkaline? Acid substances would turn the paper yellow whilst alkaline substances showed up in shades of green with the colour deepening as the alkalinity increased.

The ethos behind adopting an alkaline diet works on this same idea of acid vs alkaline and starts from the premise that a healthy body is a slightly alkaline body with a pH falling somewhere close to the neutral pH of 7 (which is also the pH of water)

The term pH is a chemical abbreviation that stands for 'potential of hydrogen' and is the measurement of hydrogen ions in a solution. The pH range is, in effect, a continuum from 0 to 14 with a pH 0 being very acidic and pH14 being very alkaline.

The human body operates optimally within a very narrow pH range and so adopting an Alkaline diet works to help maintain this healthy range and avoid the fluctuations towards more acidity - an imbalance which will manifest itself as one of a range of ailments from a runny nose to full blown irritable bowel syndrome.

All the body's tissues are healthier in a slightly alkaline state - blood for example, should be slightly alkaline at 7.365 - but this can be a struggle to achieve when you consider the typical Western diet is dramatically weighted in favour of acidic foods with some 80 per cent of what many people eat as part of their every day diet generating more acidity in the body and only 20 per cent working to keep body tissues and organs in that healthier alkaline state that can help boost energy levels and prevent tiredness and disease.

A body that is acidic can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast and fungi whereas an alkaline environment works in your favour to keep these bad guys in check. So it's worth starting to understand which types of foods (and lifestyle choices) will work with you to maintain a more alkaline balance and which of those highly acidic you are better off avoiding.

Many fast food fats and fizzy drinks come in at an alarming pH3 which means avoid at all costs. Meat and dairy hover between pH 4 and 6 and water marks the transition from acidic to alkaline at pH7 and then we tip into the alkalising edible fruits and vegetables that form the foundation of an alkalising diet with a pH range of 8 to 10.

So how can you become more alkaline? To switch the balance in favour of a more alkalising diet all you need to do is step up your intake of all those foods - veggies, greens, fresh pesticide free fruits, green juices, smoothies and other fantastic plant foods that see alkaline followers bursting with energy and wellbeing.

Finally don't dismiss the power of lifestyle factors that can also skew the acid/alkaline balance in the body. These include lack of exercise, anger, drugs, smoking and stress.