When Kate Hudson swears by something, we are all ears.
If you're like us and you picked up a copy of Kate's book Pretty Happy the second it hit shelves, you know that the quintessential Cali girl is a big fan of an alkaline diet for many reasons. "We help our bodies maintain inner harmony by eating more alkaline-forming foods and fewer acid-forming foods," noted the celeb in her book. The trendy elimination diet is high in alkaline foods (like fruits, nuts, legumes and veggies) and low in acidic foods (like meats, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol). Sounds simple enough, right?
Well before you start nixing alcohol, we consulted Cleveland Clinic dermatologist dermatologist Dr. Melissa Piliang and celeb nutritionist Kelly LeVeque to ask: Is an alkaline diet really all that it's cracked up to be?
Some of the Principles Have Merit: "There are good things about this diet and its effect on skin," confirmed Dr. Piliang. For example, eating fruits and vegetables counteracts environmental damage. However, there aren't really any studies to confirm the claimed benefits. "Although it continues to be a very popular diet, the acid-alkaline theory claims are not supported by scientific evidence," explained Kelly.
But Be Weary of a Strict Elimination Diet: Elimination diets (or the avoidance of certain foods) of any kind are extreme and when celebs do them, it's usually because they have a team of nutritionists, cooks and trainers holding their hands through the process, explained Dr. Piliang. Kelly, who works with celebs on a regular basis, agreed. "I always recommend my clients add alkaline-forming foods to their diet but never at the expense of removing acid-forming foods," said Kelly.
AP Photo/Thibault Camus
Protein Is More Important Than You Might Think: Eliminating acidic foods like dairy and meat, which are major protein sources, can be dangerous. "Protein is really important for hair, skin and nails and a lot of times when I see patients who go on protein-restricted diets they often have issues, like hair loss," Dr. Piliang explained.
Slashing Fat Could Contribute to Acne: Something else to be mindful of: Omega 3 intake (a.k.a. a healthy fat). "Recent studies suggest that Omega 3 deficiency contributes to chronic acne," revealed Kelly. And again, Omega 3 comes from protein sources (like sardines, oyster and mackerels) that you might be cutting out if you were following a strict alkaline diet.
A Good Moisturizer Will Give You Better Skin Than a Fad Diet: The outer layer of the skin (called the acid mantel) protects us from the environment, explained Dr. Pillang. "That outer layer is not affected by our diet," she confirmed. However, there are things we do on a daily basis, like coming into contact with harsh weather and exposing ourselves to the sun, that damage it. To care for that outer layer, focus less on what you eat and be diligent about hydrating with a good gentle moisturizer that will restore skin to a balanced pH.
The Body Pretty Much Regulates Itself: Maintaining a neutral pH is a keystone of the alkaline diet, but Dr. Piliang explained that the same result can be achieved through a less restrictive approach. "We control the pH of our body through the lungs and kidneys and simply by eating a relatively healthy diet." In other words, you don't need to adhere to a to a crazy elimination diet to keep the body functioning properly and skin clear.