Of all the things you’d expect to find in a supermodel’s purse, urine-testing strips probably aren’t among them. When Elle Macpherson revealed to reporters in April that she carries a pH-testing kit everywhere she goes, she gave fresh traction to the idea (long popular in the natural-health community) that you can stave off illness by keeping your body alkaline rather than acidic.
In addition to regularly testing the pH of her urine, Macpherson adheres to a low-pH diet. Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and Alicia Silverstone are also reported followers of the alkaline lifestyle.
But is it true?
“Our blood does not go alkaline or acidic unless we’re extremely ill,” says Dr. Esther Konigsberg, a medical director for Integrative Medicine Consultants in Toronto.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health found that there were some possible health benefits associated with eating more alkaline foods, including higher intake of magnesium and Vitamin D. However, researchers attributed this to the fact that foods that are alkaline, like many fruits and vegetables, naturally contain more of these vitamins and minerals than foods that are acidic, like flour. “People may feel better after adopting an alkaline diet,” Konigsberg says. “But the reason isn’t the pH of the foods — it’s that these foods are richer in nutrients and are less processed.” While the alkaline diet certainly has some healthy meal options, you’ll be better off letting the nutrients in food guide your choices.