So, the idea of transformation is not new in our culture. Most of us experience some sort of transformation almost daily, whether it be going from boss or employee by day, to mom, dad, cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, or dog walker by night. We grew up watching the ultimate transformation in Barbie, the bathing-suit-clad, anatomically incorrect bombshell in 1959 to Hippie Barbie in 1971. Then on to Air Force Barbie in 1990 to Harley-Davidson Barbie in 1997, and many others in between. And who could forget Rocky Balboa, through his hard work and determination, transformed from a washed-up South Philly boxer to a Champion.
Last week I made my own transformation, from suburban housewife in yoga pants and ponytail, to art enthusiast in an all black number with boots, tights and flat ironed hair to enter the “big city.” I, along with my parents and sister, had the opportunity to view the ultimate in transformations…the Cindy Sherman Retrospective Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Her fascinating self-photographs often casts her as various iconic roles from career girl to socialite. Each one recreating a female identity, though always allowing the viewer to relate to the character she is portraying. This was an incredible experience both visually as well as emotionally for me.
AND why is this relevant to health? Well, the exhibit got me thinking just how important, and even healthy, transformations can be. Whether you are transforming to enter a new career, a new stage in your life, a new or reworked existing relationship, or a healthier way of living, transformations can be key to our growth.
Cindy Sherman photos were reshot from Time Magazine, March 5, 2012
This week Figs and Function would like to inform you of an extremely important transformation that we should all make for our health.
Let’s ditch the Standard American Diet (SAD) of eating mostly acidic-based foods, such as meat, dairy, grains, salt and sugar and start adding more life-enhancing (and sometimes life-saving) alkaline foods, like fresh vegetables, to our diet.
Okay, I promise no heavy chemistry lesson today, “just the facts ma’am.”
Well, maybe a little chemistry in the form of a lab experiment. I always did love school!!!!
NAME: Figs and Function
DATE: March 9, 2012
TITLE: Acid and Alkaline Diet and Its Effects on Our Health
PURPOSE: To introduce F&F readers to the problems that the Standard American Diet can cause on our health, and to provide suggestions for creating a more alkaline-based diet.
Almost all of the foods we eat, once they are digested and metabolized, become either acidic or alkaline in our blood. For optimum health, it is suggested that we eat a diet as close to the body’s ph level of between 7.35 and 7.45, which if anyone remembers (or cares) is slightly alkaline. Eating a diet too high in acid has a tendency to deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This in turn can make us more prone to illness.
Eating more foods that are alkaline in nature is thought to increase energy, decrease inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.
It is not necessary to eliminate all of the more-acidic foods, because some have tremendous benefits, as with some legumes, like chickpeas, and black beans.
The key is to strive to eat a diet consisting of 60-80% alkaline foods and 20-40% acidic foods.
Source: This information comes from the second book by Kris Carr, Crazy Sexy Diet. Her first book, entitled Crazy Sexy Cancer, is a best-selling cancer survival guidebook, and a must read for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge to live a healthier lifestyle.
Top Alkaline Foods
Alkaline water – clean, pure water
Almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, and flax seeds
Cold-pressed oils, such as hemp, flax, and borage seed
Moderate amounts of grains; such as quinoa, wild rice, millet, amaranth, buckwheat. Exceptions: wheat, oats, and brown rice are mildly acidic.
Grasses, especially super powered nutrient-packed wheatgrass
Green veggies – all kinds, but especially leafy green veggies such as kale, spinach, lettuces, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, and endive
Lemons, limes, and grapefruits – although these fruits are acidic, they actually have an alkalizing affect in your body
Lentils and other beans – in general, all legumes (beans and peas) are alkalizing
Raw tomatoes – but cooked tomatoes are acidic
Root veggies, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, jicama, daikon, and burdock
Stevia (a sweetener)
It’s best to consume these in moderation, limiting them to occasional indulgences, or eliminating them entirely is recommended.
Animal protein: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy products (these products are highly acidic)
Chemicals, drugs, cigarettes, heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives
Coffee (even decaf), black tea
Heavily processed foods, no matter what they are made of
Honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, fructose
Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard (use sparingly)
Some legumes like chickpeas, black beans and soybeans are slightly acidic but are valuable staples of a healthy diet
Processed soy products tend to fall on the acidic side – enjoy them in moderation
Processed oils such as margarine, fake fats, trans fats, and refined vegetable oils
Refined grains, wheat, and oats: White bread, pasta, and rice are highly acidic.
Soda, energy drinks, sport drinks
Table salt (sea salt and kosher salt are better choices in moderation)
All salted and roasted nuts
White sugar and sugar substitutes
Yeast and Vinegar (with the exception of raw apple cider vinegar)
Soy sauce (use sparingly and choose low-sodium tamari or gluten-free nama shoyu)
What about fruit, you ask?
Kris says, “most fruits are slightly acidic (with the exception of avocados), because of their high fructose (sugar) content. However in small quantities, fresh organic in-season fruits including all sorts of berries, apples, pears, grapefruits, and cantaloupe are fantastic.”
PROCEDURE: Ways to get more alkaline foods into your diet.
1) Make a crudite platter weekly to keep in your fridge. This will be your go-to for snacks and to add into each meal. They will already be washed and cut. You can also wash and then wrap your leafy greens in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will be ready when you are. (See Data)
2) Transform the way your plate looks. Change the proportions of vegetables to meat and starches. (See Data)
Add more vegetables. Make cole slaw with rice wine vinegar instead of mayonnaise. Reduce the amount of animal protein.
Add more vegetables. Reduce the amount of animal protein. Eliminate the butter.
Add more vegetables. Reduce the amount of animal protein. Reduce the amount of slightly acidic brown rice.
So my chemistry-loving classmates, here’s the Spark notes version, (or Cliff’s notes, depending on your age).
1. Make 60-80% of your food choices from the alkaline food list, and 20-40% from the acid food list.
2. Avoid (as much as possible) processed, refined and preservative-filled packaged foods, especially microwave meals. Stay as close to nature as possible.
3. Avoid or reduce (as much as possible) all fatty meats, dairy, cheese, sugar, and alcohol.
And one last thing to remember; transformations are a process. If you gradually eat more alkaline foods daily, you will naturally be eating less of the acidic foods, and you won’t feel as deprived. Why not test yourself with some additional alkaline foods? I always give an A+ for effort.
Until next time,