“Cleanses Have Become A Catch Phrase”: How To Eat Right With Your Eyes (And Mouth)-------
For Sally Kravich, the eyes have it—literally. The holistic nutritionist who divides her time between the East and West Coasts has long incorporated iridology, the scientific practice of using the iris as a road map to your body’s organs and systems, into her sessions. Intrigued? Us, too. We caught up with Kravich to talk about the process, and gleaned a whole lot more information about supplements, a good acid/alkaline balance, and why, just like Keith Richards, cheese is no-no for her.
So, what exactly is iridology?
While parts of iridology have been used for thousands of years, including in Chinese acupuncture, it was discovered simultaneously around the mid-1800′s in Hungary and Sweden. The man who first noticed the eyes in Hungary was Ignatz Von Peczely. It was the time of falconry and he was 12; he set his owl off and it broke its leg, and he noticed there was a line that showed up in its eye; as the leg mended, these white lines started appearing in its eye as if they were knitting together. Later he became a doctor and noticed that when his patients took certain drugs, spots would show up in their eyes, so he started tracking them. That was the beginning of iridology as we know it today. In Sweden, Nils Lundqvist, who became the father of homeopathic medicine, started noticing the same thing, and they both recorded identical markings for the same indicators.
Crazy. When did you personally become interested in the field?
I was fortunate enough to study with a man named Bernard Jensen, who was the one who really created the modern charts and really brought it up to date. He was the master of it, and would look at 40,000 eyes just to track a heart condition. Iridology is kind of a merging of the ancient, with a combination of observation of the present, because the eyes really are the windows to the soul.
As a nutritionist, how do you incorporate iridology into your practice?
I do it in a different pattern than I used to because I don’t like anything that seems absolutely extraordinary. Twenty-five years ago I would do it at the beginning of a session and people would go, ‘How did you know that?’ And it just became too, kind of, magical. So now I use it towards the end of a session when I’m looking really to gauge where someone has missing nutrients, what organs may need some additional support, and where there are vitamin deficiencies going on.
What is the biggest dietary mistake you see women making?
The biggest one is going fat-free. If we avoid healthy fats, we actually start to mess with our hormones and brains. Although most younger women are always concerned with their weight and size, I get a lot of people wanting to get pregnant so there are a lot of things around fertility issues. And the more someone has been fat-free and onto diet sodas, the more it messes with hormones, and it creates a problem where their thyroid eventually doesn’t work the way it should. So I would say the most common mistake I still see women do is reading labels for calories and fat content, rather than ingredients.
You are a big proponent of creating a good acid/alkaline balance in the body. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Yes, and there has been more awareness about that recently. An acid environment tears down the body, and acid-forming foods are ones with high sugars, like sodas or the drinks people do to keep their energy up, or coffee or stimulants. Those are obvious high acidic foods, but proteins, starches, fats, and oils are also highly acidic, and many people will not create a balance of having high alkalizing foods in their diet. Like veggies! Those are the most alkalizing foods. If you have more of a volume of healing alkalizing foods like vegetables, you create an environment where your body can repair; disease thrives in an acid environment. Also an acid environment means your body is starting to feed on itself; there is a breakdown of tissue, so your body will feed on the calcium in the bone structure, which over time can throw us into osteoporosis earlier. Things like alkaline drops and alkaline water are gimmicky; it’s better to create an alkaline environment by simply increasing the veggie volume in your diet. If someone has a little problem with digesting fat and I want them to be able to assimilate it and get all the great nutrients out of it, like in the case of an avocado, I would tell them to eat it with tomatoes or lemon.
What about those of us with a sweet tooth? Any advice on how to kick the sugar habit?
I say absolutely no artificial sweeteners—ever. There has been a huge run about agave. But even though it comes from the cactus family, I don’t really like it, because I find that people use way too much of it. I prefer honey. Honey is antibacterial and there are some that have royal jelly, which will give you an energy and immunity boost. And if you eat honeys from the environment in which you live, it actually helps you with allergies. If someone wants to avoid the calories or they have a problem with blood sugar, I recommend liquid Stevia because people sometimes complain that the powder stuff can leave a bitter aftertaste. Rice bran syrup is also a great sweetener, and it’s highly concentrated in B vitamins. Blackstrap molasses is good for sweetening and it’s high in iron.
Please share your opinions on dairy: a universal evil or really, really delicious?
I was an asthmatic when I was young, and when I studied with naturopaths, the first thing that I got off of to combat it was milk. So I’m really not fond of milk drinking for anyone. For my own children I weaned them on goat milk, because goat and sheep is closer to mother’s milk than cow dairy. Especially if someone comes from a Mediterranean or Asian background, the less likely they will be able to tolerate dairy because it was never in their diet for centuries, so it’s harder to break down. I generally try to get people off of dairy if they have a skin condition, digestive troubles, mucus, or asthma or congestion in their lungs, if they’re a singer, or if they have a weight problem. The only dairy I do like is yogurt but that doesn’t work for everyone, so I recommend sheep or goat yogurt. Best to think of dairy more as a flavoring than a food group.
With cleansing and juicing all the rage these says, do you think they’re worth the hype?
In the seventies I was called the smoothie and juice queen because I was putting people on cleanses at that time, including myself. In my case, it was always about health, rather than dietary control. Now it’s become such a catchphrase, like “I’m on this cleanse,” and I look at some of them and it’s so much marketing. The way cleanses first started really appearing was more about eating lightly…like in Greek or Mediterranean culture, women would do a day of drinking parsley juice and they would boil the parsley and drink the liquid. So just lightening up on their system to clean out and feel more energetic. I’m not at all a fan of the master cleanse; in fact, I think it’s very harmful. If you look at it it’s concentrated lemon, maple syrup, which is basically sugar, and cayenne pepper. So it becomes an irritant, and a lot of people have to get a lot of dental work afterwards because it erodes the enamel. It’s just sugar! People lose all this weight but gain it right back, and they feel like they have all this energy, but they are running on a sugar high. My favorite cleanses since the seventies have been veggie juice-based. It’s also important how you enter into it; you cut out proteins and starches and anything processed, and I like to have people eat soups and salads—just make the foods simpler and simpler until they do one to three days of just veggie juices. And I might put some herbal teas in there too to help stimulate the liver or help clear congestion out of the body. Then you break it by coming back to eating soups and easy-to-digest things.
How about supplements, that other buzzword? What are the most important supplements all women should factor into their diet?
There are several basics that I think are really important. One is a probiotic because those put good bacteria back into the body, and that helps you to digest and break down and absorb nutrients in the small intestine. I think fish oil is highly important, too, because it’s a protector against all the radio currents we are bombarded with, and it’s great for brain development. It also helps to curb against other fat cravings. B complex—also important; in general, having a good B50 or B100 will help feed our nervous system and helps with stress, and along with fish oil it helps keep your hormones balanced. Vitamin D is also essential. We’ve become kind of mole people and we’re not getting the natural light that we need, and getting the D is important for the synthesis of calcium and our structural health. And the fifth would be calcium. Take it at night at bedtime in liquid or powdered capsule form; it’s the best sleeping pill in the world and it also helps with weight because it relaxes and helps you get into a deep sleep, which means your body will be repairing.