Book Review: The Alkaline Cure: Lose Weight, Gain Energy, Feel Young and Stay Healthy for the Rest of Your Life by Stephan Domenig
The introduction to the Alkaline Diet in the first half of the book is wonderfully written and easy to understand. The 14 day meal plan and lifestyle guide falters, however, with dull, complex to make meals and a shortage of exercise tips.
For those who don’t know, the Alkaline Diet basically is the idea that our bodies function best with a pH balance between 7.3 and 7.5, but modern lifestyles wreak havoc with this balance, making us too acidic. What impacts our pH balance is our food and lifestyle. Each food can be either acidic or alkaline. Stress is acidic. Meditation is alkaline. Etc… Whether or not this idea that the body should be at a certain pH balance is valid is rather irrelevant, honestly. The tips offered for creating this balance are all good, healthy ones. The book never veers into extremism, indeed cautioning that acidic foods, such as meat and processed items, do not need to be cut out of the diet entirely in order for the reader to be healthy. It encourages a 2:1 ratio. Two parts alkaline food and activities for every one part acidic food and activities. Essentially, the idea that health is not all or nothing. It is a balancing act. Indeed, balance is a theme of the book.
Your body doesn’t want extremes–it wants balance. (loc 480)
The two parts alkaline it encourages are basically fresh produce, time for self-care, and low-stress exercise. So basically, eat whole foods, stress less, and move more. Fairly common fitness and health advice. The acidic parts include processed food, meat, dairy, stress, and high-stress exercise. Again, the reader is not told to stop enjoying any of these things, but simply to find a balance. The only thing I really disagree with is I think the book underemphasizes the importance of exercise for health. In fact, the book seems a bit concerned with not doing too much “high-stress” cardio or weight lifting. It seems to be more inclined toward the lower-impact, more moderate exercises. I don’t think this is an idea that could claim to have much science behind it. Indeed, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is written about in over 200 articles on PubMed (a free biomedical database), and most of these articles are talking about the positive effects of HIIT on abilities and cardiovascular health. (List of articles) So essentially the food and lifestyle advice is mostly good but take the exercise advice with a grain of salt. Advising moderate walking and stretching every other day or so is really only appropriate for the most beginner levels of fitness.
After introducing these ideas, the book next offers a 14 day meal plan and lifestyle plan for the person new to Alkaline. The first week is basically a cleanse, and the second week is supposed to be a model of what the non-cleanse Alkaline lifestyle is like. This is the part where I became disappointed. The recipes, including the ones for the non-cleanse week, come across as bland, dull, and labor-intensive, and this is coming from a person who does an awful lot of cooking to minimize the amount of processed foods in her diet. I usually spend at least two hours prepping food for the workweek and cook a minimum of 4 meals at home a week. This plan seemed like an overwhelming amount of work to me. I can only imagine how it might seem to a reader who normally cooks processed meals or picks up fast food most days of the week. Many of the recipes were also not particularly simple. For both of these reasons, I feel the meal plan isn’t particularly appropriate for a beginner, which is odd given that the rest of the book is toned as for a beginner. I would expect an easier, more approachable meal plan from this book.
Each day also has beauty, exercise, and lifestyle suggestions. I particularly enjoyed the beauty suggestions, as they were mostly things that are easy to do at home and seemed enjoyable, such as an alkalizing foot bath or a hair mask. The lifestyle suggestions were good for beginners who maybe are new to the ideas of meditation and stress relief. The exercise sections suffered from the same issue I went into in-depth earlier.
What the book lacks is a clear idea of who its audience is. Is it a person completely new to fitness and healthy eating who is currently a beginner in every way? Is it meant for every person wherever they are on their journey to health? Is it meant for intermediates, looking to amp up their fitness and health regime? Because it lacks a focus, the content veers around between these three options, suggesting extremely beginner level exercises but rather advanced cooking and preparation ideas. For this reason, it would probably frustrate a beginner who finds the first half of the book do-able and understandable but then finds an overwhelming amount to do for an introductory 14 day plan. It would also frustrate someone who is not new to fitness and health who wants more details on how to amp up their regime and who may be a bit insulted at the idea that they will be fine if they just go for walks every few days. Recommended to those interested in a quick introduction to the ideas behind the Alkaline Diet to tweak their diet on their own but who is not so invested in using a 14 day introductory plan.
3 out of 5 stars
Hello my lovely readers!
I hope you all had great weeks. Mine has been incredibly busy but in a fun way. The teaching sessions at work have been increasing since medical schools and medicine in general run on a calendar that starts in June (except for the first year students who start in August). I was warned things would get busier, but I must admit it still has been a bit of a shock for me! But I’m a person who enjoys being busy, so I’m loving it.
In fitness news, I had plateaued for a few months. I took a few tips from other fitness folks to increase intensity across the board. Well, this week I decided to check my measurements (I don’t weigh myself), and in the last 1.5 months I’ve lost half an inch (1.27 centimeters) on my waist! Also an inch (2.54 centimeters) on my chest and hips, but the waist is the important factor! You’re supposed 33 inches or under around the waist (for women) for cardiovascular health, and with the heart disease that is strongly prevalent in my family, that is one of the things I keep tabs on for my fitness. (source) I’m so happy to be half an inch closer! I now only have two inches to go. :-) Also this means that the changes I made in my fitness routines are working, so yay!
In other exciting news, today is the first day of the official Waiting For Daybreak blog tour! I’ll be adding links to features as they come in, but I also will be mentioning the features in every Friday Fun post for the duration of the tour, since not everyone will be clicking through to the blog tour page. Since today is the first day of the tour, there isn’t too much to talk about this week, but I do want to call attention to the reviews and interviews that have gone up that were not a part of the official tour.
Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf says, “This book is recommended for Zombie fans, there are some sexual scenes and violence, but it’s not over the top which is good. This was a great first debut book for the author.” Be sure to click through to see her whole review.
Waiting For Daybreak was also reviewed on Beauty in Ruins, who said, “The writing is solid, the dialogue creatively engaging (even with Freida’s silent cat), and the novelty of the personality issue alone definitely makes this worth a read.”
Nicki J Markus says, “The pacing of this piece is well managed and the tension was maintained perfectly from start to finish.”
And Reflections appreciated Frieda, “Even though Frieda has a personality disorder and periods of extreme depression, the character was still somehow easy to relate to.”
Finally, in addition to a review best summed-up with the great phrase, “Wonderful book!” Love, Literature, Art, and Reason also interviewed me! Be sure to check out the interview to find out everything from how I deal with writer’s block to why I decided to give Frieda Borderline Personality Disorder.
Phew! No wonder I’ve been feeling so busy…..Evidence-Based Medicine, fitness, and book tours. Oh my!
Happy weekends all!
What Librarians Talk About (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture by Mark E. Funk, AHIP, FMLA)
The first plenary is given by the MLA president, the second by someone who is not necessarily a librarian but has something interesting to say that will aid us in our profession. The third plenary, however, is given by a librarian. Mark E. Funk’s presentation was entitled, “Our Words, Our Story: A Textual Analysis of Articles Published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association/Journal of the Medical Library Association from 1961 to 2010.” Here are my notes.
- An analysis of the words revealed four key areas that librarians talk about: environment, management, technology, and research.
- Although we talk more about building than people, that gap is narrowing.
- We are basically almost not talking about books, but we are increasingly talking about journals.
- Reference is steady. Searching is increasing.
- Information is the #2 word.
- As our information world becomes more complicated, we are talking more and more about teaching. “I predict teaching will become ever more important.”
- We are now concerned about what we can do to improve health.
- New groups we’ve reached out to include: clinicians, consumers, and patients.
- We use management words to tell our story.
- We are no longer running our libraries like academic environments; we are running them like businesses.
- We are early adopters and write about it.
- Sometimes new technology becomes so embedded in our lives that we don’t mention it anymore. For example, you say you talked to someone but don’t mention the telephone.
- Our attention has shifted from automating to digitizing.
- We don’t talk about the internet. We talk about the web and navigation.
- The word with the sharpest rise and fall is: Gopher
- IMRaDification of our profession. (IMRaD–Intro, Methodology, Results, Discussion)
- MLA strategic plan encouraged us to do more research, and we responded.
- Hockey Stick terms–little to no use, sharp recent uptake. May indicate future usage but it could be a drastic rise and fall. Only time will tell.
- EHRs are white hot now. (EHR–Electronic Hospital Record)
- Why do we study history? It’s very good at explaining change. Answers the question, how did we get here?
- De-emphasis on physical. Emphasis on information. Prefer evidence-based.
- Emphasis on health. Expanded audience. Outside the library. Teaching people.
- Libraries more business-like. Technophiles. More research articles using IMRaD.
- History can hint at the future, but it can’t predict it.
- Our story is being written every day. We can’t skip chapters to see what happens next.
Hello my lovely readers! Sorry for the relatively smaller amount of reviews this week. I’ve finished a few books, but didn’t have the time to write up the reviews yet. This just means next week will be full. :-)
I have a relatively serious topic I want to talk about today. You guys know that I take health and the obesity epidemic seriously. One argument that I’ve heard a lot of unhealthy women make is that they put on a ton of weight to avoid men. They weren’t comfortable with the attention, etc… I remember thinking, when I, at the time, was overweight myself, “How bad could it really be?” Turns out…..pretty bad.
Over the last year, I’ve gone from a size 16 to a size 10. Over the last month, I’ve had more encounters with men who feel entitled to my body than I had over the entire two years I was overweight. I know correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but in some cases it does.
I’m a single lady. I date. I go places where single people hang out to try to meet new people. I do what single people in cities do. I dress attractively, because I WANT to, but also because I’ve worked damn HARD for this body, and I’m proud of my work. I’m not saying I’m Miss America, and I wouldn’t want to be, but I definitely look happy and healthy when I go out. Much more so than when I was overweight. I get hit on. I get asked on dates. This also happened when I was overweight. The difference, though, is that now when I dare to say the word no a much higher percentage of them get downright angry at me.
He’ll say something like, “Do you want to go on a date?” I say, “No, thank you.” He says, “WHY?! Think you’re too good for me?!” or “Well you shouldn’t dress that way if you don’t want attention” or “Please, you obviously need a good fucking.” (I am not exaggerating. These all have been spoken or texted or what have you to me).
Worse, though, is I’ll go on a first date. Usually dinner or drinks. I have a nice enough time, but I can tell we wouldn’t work long-term, and I want a relationship at this point in my life. He leans in for a kiss, and I turn my cheek or he asks me for a second date and I say no I don’t think it’ll work out. The reaction generally is, “You owe me, I bought you dinner!” or “How can you possibly know after only one date?!” or “Well, I thought you were ugly anyway.” (That last one, btw, makes zero sense since he ASKED ME OUT TO START WITH).
What really aggravates me about these interactions isn’t their disappointment that I said no. Obviously, that is flattering. What is bothersome is the evident sense of entitlement over MY BODY that they have. I’m pretty and single. They’re available and have a penis, ergo, I must want them or I’m a horrible woman. Since when did my body become the possession of every straight man in the greater Boston area?
Oh yeah, since I started glowing with health.
It’s draining. It’s enough to make me not want to go out some nights. It’s enough to make me want to stick my earbuds in in public and ignore everyone. Of course, I’m me, so I’m not going to do these things. I’m going to keep being my awesome self and feminist hulksmashing the douchebags (verbal smack-down, folks, not a physical one), but. If I didn’t have such a strong personality or had personal issues or WHATEVER I could totally see this being a thing that would make me stop working out, stop eating healthy, stop it all and just hide to protect myself.
Do you see where I’m going here? This misogynistic entitlement to women’s bodies is a poison to our whole society. A POISON. Every time you police a woman’s body or act entitled to her or watch it happen to a woman and not stand up for her, you are essentially watching the cook poison the food and then serve it to the dinner party without saying anything or trying to stop him. It hurts everyone, and it is not ok! It is just as bad as those cultures (that I know Americans judge) that say, “Women need to cover up because they tempt men.” Our cultural impetus is the opposite. “This woman is young and healthy and available ergo I deserve her body.”
No. You. Don’t.
I vow to say something any time I hear this attitude happening, and not just to me. I vow to encourage all women to remember that our bodies are ours and our health is about US and not about THEM. I hope you all will do the same.
Hello my lovely readers! Wow, can you believe it’s February already? Craziness. It seems like January just flew right by.
So you know that I’ve started following the steps laid out in Your Money or Your Life. One of them is tallying up your categories each month to see where your “life energy” went. My first month of tallying was December to give me a clear idea of where I was starting from. So this was my first real month on the plan, thinking through everything as $7 = 1 hour of my life. When I did my tallies, I am shocked to report, that my expenditures went down by 83.7 hours!! And I wasn’t even really trying! I just stopped and thought if each purchase was really worth X hours of my life. The book said thinking that way just naturally curbs spending, but I really truly am shocked at how much it did in just one month.
In other exciting news, this weekend marks my one year anniversary of gym membership and commitment to my health. I’ll be doing my measurements and such with my trainer, but I don’t even need them done to know it’s working. I just feel so much healthier than I did a year ago. I have more energy, sleep better, have more enthusiasm, can handle things better. It feels so much better to go take your stress out in the gym than in other unhealthy ways like drinking, eating, or vegging out in front of the tv. It’s a real positivity boost. Anyway, in honor of my one year achievement, I’m finally going to let myself get a real gym bag. I hadn’t let myself because I refuse to spend money on things I might not stick with, but it’s obvious this habit is here to stay. I can’t wait to have a real gym bag with compartments for dirty clothes and shoes and straps to hold on a yoga mat. It’s definitely going to be worth the life energy it costs for the purchase. ;-)
This weekend I’m going to be very busy with a couple of projects I’m excited about. February is going to be awesome. :-)
Happy weekends all!
Book Review: Diet For a New America by John Robbins (Diet for a New America Reading Project, Book 1)
John Robbins was born into one of the most powerful corporations in America–Baskin-Robbins. A company based entirely on selling animal products. Yet he took it upon himself to investigate the reality of animals products and their impact on Americans, American land, and the world overall. This book summarizes his extensive research, including personal visits to factory farms.
This is the first book in the Diet for a New America Reading Project 2012 I am hosting. The project is focused on educating ourselves on the facts behind health and preventative medicine for the well-being of all Americans, an issue that I am sure we can all agree is a serious one. If you join the project late, please feel free to come back to this post or the GoodReads group after you’ve finished the book to join in on the discussion. And now, on to the book!
There are books that you read that are so incredibly powerful you are left almost speechless. Simply wanting to hand out copies to everyone you know, everyone you meet and say, “Please, read this.” I highlighted so much in my copy that I couldn’t even do my usual of posting all highlighted quotes to my tumblr. I discovered I was practically illegally reproducing the book, hah. ;-) I thus will do my best to highlight precisely why I find this book trustworthy, why I feel inspired by John Robbins, and the most stunning facts I learned while reading the book.
Why You Should Trust This Book
As a medical librarian, I was very careful to check out Robbins’ resources for his facts, particularly for the health section, which is what this project is focused upon. Robbins drew his research from vetted, peer-reviewed, well-respected scientific journals, including ones I routinely use in my own work, such as Journal of the American Medical Association, the British Journal of Medicine, and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He also cites the studies of such organizations as the FDA, the EPA, and the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, he conducted personal interviews with real factory farmers and scientists. Additionally, all of his citations are in order. You may not like the facts he reports, but they are still scientifically backed-up facts.
The fact that John Robbins researched the effects of animal derived foods on the environment and people and decided that it is bad for everyone involved is remarkable when you consider the fact that he comes from a family whose business is based entirely on selling dairy to Americans. If the man had an innate bias, it would absolutely be on the side of carnists/omnivores, but he astoundingly conducted the research and came down on the side veg*ism. (His family reunions must really be something…) This not only makes me respect him, but trust him. Somebody must be truly convinced to convert away from a business that has made his family, and presumably himself if he had agreed to take over the business, extremely wealthy.
But enough about why this book is trustworthy. Let’s move on to discuss the astounding scientific facts revealed in the three different sections: animal rights and factory farming, health consequences of eating animal based products, and environmental consequences of meat-based diets.
Animal Rights and Factory Farming
I definitely believe this knowledge is more widely spread than when this book was first published. I have a hard time imagining growing up in America and not coming to understand the horrors of factory farming, but you never know. Robbins talks about the psychiatric fact that children who grow up abusing animals are more likely to become criminals in later life. This, of course, is a basic reason to not base an entire sector of the American economy around factory farms that treat animals horribly like cogs in a machine. Of course there are more reasons to treat animals well, such as the fact that dogs’ EEG scans are identical to human’s or that dolphins routinely save humans and other animals in the ocean or that many species of animals mate for life showing a dedication most humans can’t pull off.
The horrors of factory farming are so extensive that it’s difficult to even list them. I feel as if I could go on and on. Perhaps the best way is to tell you to imagine being in the most crowded elevator possible. Now imagine that 20 of the 24 hours you’re in there it’s dark. You’re standing on a slanted, slatted, metal floor. The food for everyone is all on one side and is dumped in all at once and you must shove and race to get to it. Of course it’s difficult to even call this food. It’s a mix of shit, paper, sawdust, chemicals, and antibiotics all spiked with yet another chemical to make it smell better to you. If you are female, then a hand periodically reaches in and artificially inseminates you, only to rip your baby away from you the instant it is born and hitch machines up to your mammary glands instead of allowing your milk to go to your baby. If you are male, you are castrated by placing a band around your testicles until they fall off after weeks of the circulation being cut off.
That is the reality for factory farmed animals. Even if you can manage to ignore the fact that these animals are being pumped full of chemicals and artificial growth hormones that you will then ingest yourself when you eat them or their products, that is still a horrifying way to get your food. These animals live in terror and pain and die in terror and pain. There is nothing natural about a factory farm. Animals were meant to live outside and graze and nurse their babies and maybe live in a herd or a flock. Not be caged up in situations so unnatural that they literally go crazy and cannibalize each other when they are naturally herbivores. That is the reality of what you are supporting when you buy factory-farmed animal products.
Ok, so maybe now you don’t believe in factory farming, but what about eating animals in general? We were raised to believe that a healthy diet involves meat, dairy, and eggs, right? Surely if an animal is raised organically and humanely all will be well? Well, the meat and dairy lobbyists have done a LOT of work to hide from you the scientific studies that show their products are unhealthy for you. If you read only a portion of this book, read the health section. It is impossible for me in this discussion and review to make as eloquent a point as Robbins does. I will instead sum it up for you.
In scientific studies published in reputable scientific journals such as JAMA, vegetarians have drastically less occurrence of: heart disease, all cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, ulcers, IBS, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones, hypertension, anemia, and asthma. Those who still have any of the chronic diseases are distinctly less symptomatic than the meat-eaters. Vegans (people who consume no animal products whatsoever) have even LOWER occurrences than vegetarians. This is vetted by multiple different studies run by different scientists in multiple nations. Even simply comparing the data of these diseases between countries following the standard American diet and those following a primarily plant-based diet backs these statistics up.
I am sure that those of you who read the book as I did were stunned to hear that these studies have been in the reputable journals since as early as the late 1960s and 1970s and yet we have not heard about them. Who is to blame? The meat and dairy lobbyists of course. What would happen to their businesses if the American people suddenly stopped following the standard American diet? The Dairy Council provides the nutritional packets at your kids’ schools. Think about that.
The environmental impact of a meat-based diet has started to crop up more often recently with the increased interest in the green movement. Essentially, Robbins primarily reiterates what I believe most of us already know. The chemicals necessary to factory farm are bad for the whole planet. It takes more fossil-fuel energy, more water, and more acreage to feed one person a meat-based diet than a plant-based diet. These are things that are definitely relevant, particularly to people who don’t believe in human population control. What I personally found most interesting in this section though was the discovery that American imports meat from Central and South American nations who have been destroying rainforest to do so, and their people are still overwhelmingly on a meat-based diet. Thus these nations are destroying their own ecologies to support Americans’ wasteful meat-based diets. That is just disgusting and selfish on our parts.
I am honestly a bit shocked at the extent of the facts that I didn’t know when I became a vegetarian in January of 2006. I admit I mostly became one out of an empathy for animals that I have always strongly felt, but additionally the less meat I ate, the better I felt. Becoming a vegetarian mostly eliminated the symptoms of my IBS as the scientific studies Robbins cites showed. But….I have a hard time imagining anyone reading the facts like this and not drastically changing their eating habits. So many of the economic and personal problems in the US today have to do with health. So maybe you’ve read this book and you still don’t care about animals and you still believe humans are better than them. But don’t you want to be as healthy as you can be for your lifetime? Wouldn’t you rather be a happy, healthy grandparent than a stooped-over one on multiple heart medications or going through chemotherapy? Even if you don’t care about that, don’t you want to leave a healthier planet for your children and your children’s children? The facts unequivocally show that the fewer animal products you consume, the better all of these outcomes will be.
Once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget. (page 379)
Source: Better World Books
- Robbins believes that the scientific studies reported in the medical journals aren’t well-known because of the meat and dairy lobbies. Do you think this is the case? Why or why not?
- If you do think the facts aren’t known because of the meat and dairy lobbies, how can we combat this?
- If you don’t think the lobbyists have anything to do with the lack of public knowledge of these issues, what do you think the true cause is?
- Do you believe the fight for organic animal farming is doing anything to help the environmental and health issues cited in the book?
- What do you think can be done to get the meat and dairy lobbyists out of our schools?
- Would you be willing to change your diet knowing the facts about the diseases it can cause or do you think it’s not worth the effort?
- Do you believe money is better spent on treating the disease or preventing the disease?
- Do you think world hunger can be successfully combated with a change in the diets of those in the first world countries?