When Elle Macpherson, 50, tells you what she eats to maintain her phenomenal physique, is it any wonder that we listen intently with open ears and hopeful hearts?
Imagine if there was a way of eating that could give us the sun-kissed skin, narrow hips and voluptuous chest Macpherson is lucky to have, all of which appear to be in exactly the same place they were 20 years ago?
Macpherson claims there is a solution: The Alkaline Diet.
According to Macpherson, when she was feeling a little run down, a nutritional expert identified that the pH of her body was a little off.
The nutritionist recommended she focus her diet on alkalising foods with minimal acid forming foods, which would help to restore her body to an alkaline state.
Acid forming foods include meat, rice, pasta, bread, cheese, soft drink, alcohol, coffee and sugar. Alkalising foods include most fruits and vegetables, almonds, chestnuts, tofu, herbal tea, some seeds and apple cider vinegar.
To achieve an alkaline state, a ratio of 80 per cent alkalising foods to just 20 per cent acid forming foods is suggested. Followers of the alkaline diet believe an alkaline body is the key to new cell generation and disease prevention.
Life on earth is dependent on controlled pH levels. Humans have a tightly controlled pH level in the serum of about 7.4 (slightly alkaline) and the body works very hard to maintain this, in a way that is largely out of our control.
For example, after consuming a meal such as steak that forms acids, the kidneys are very busy excreting this acid. That's why urine may register as being more acidic than usual after testing. The body is simply working hard to restore its acid-base balance, keeping its pH tightly controlled.
So while what we consume orally has the ability to affect our urinary pH, which has implications for renal health in the long term, the reality is that the body has an unwavering ability to maintain a steady pH in the bloodstream, no matter what foods we consume.
Certain physiological processes, including the ones involved in digestion in the stomach, actually require an acidic pH to kill harmful pathogens and to help digest food.
This is not to say that the alkaline diet is a poor choice of diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains, with minimal processed foods, significantly bumps up the intake of potassium while reducing sodium intake.
This dietary ratio has numerous health benefits, including lower body weight, reduced blood pressure and less cellular damage, but it is not a pH effect resulting in these benefits.
So where does this leave the alkaline diet?
If your goal is to look like Elle Macpherson, no amount of supergreens is ever going to get you breasts, hips, height or long lean limbs like the ones she has been gifted. It is safe to say that genetics yield far more power than some alkaline vegetables ever will.
So if your goal is to eat more fresh and unprocessed food, you will likely get some general health benefits from the alkaline diet.
But there is no need to keep testing the pH of your urine. It does not mean anything.