Eating Well for Optimum Health : The Essential Guide to Food, Diet and Nutrition
From one of our most trusted authorities on health and alternative health care, a comprehensive and reassuring book about food, diet, and nutrition. Building on the scientific and philosophical underpinnings of his enormous bestseller Spontaneous Healing, the body's capacity to heal itself, and presenting the kind of practical information that informed his 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Dr. Weil now provides us with a program for improving our well-being by making informed choices about how and what we eat. He explains the safest and most effective ways to lose weight; how diet can affect energy and sleep; how foods can exacerbate or minimize specific physical problems; how much fat to include in our diet; what nutrients are in which foods, and much, much more. He makes clear that an optimal diet will both supply the basic needs of the body and fortify the body's defenses and mechanisms of healing. And he provides easy-to-prepare recipes in which the food is as sensually satisfying as it is beneficial.
Now considered one of holistic medicine's most authoritative voices, Weil (Spontaneous Healing; 8 Weeks to Optimum Health) provides a common-sense approach to healthy eating. While much of this information can be found in other volumes, Weil illuminates the often confusing and conflicting ideas circulating about good nutrition, addressing specific health issues and offering nutritional guidance to help heal and prevent major illnesses. Of particular value is his examination of recent fads, such as low-carbohydrate, vegan and "Asian" diets, with an eye toward debunking the myths about them while highlighting their valuable aspects. Readers will appreciate the brief stories of individuals who have made big changes in their eating habits and solved chronic health problems, as well as recipes for foods that Weil feels will satisfy nutritional needs and the taste buds. Although not the first to link the rise of cancer, heart disease and obesity with the now-prevalent consumption of fast food and processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and few, if any, micronutrients, Weil's articulate plea to reflect on the consequences is convincing. Despite Weil's emphasis on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed foods and much less meat and dairy products than most Americans are used to, readers will notice a profoundly realistic observation of what changes they can readily incorporate into their busy lives. And they will be heartened to learn that they can eat nutritious foods and still get much pleasure from them. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 07, 2000
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Excerpt from Eating Well for Optimum Health by Andrew Weil
The Principles of Eating Well
When I use the words eating well, I mean using food not only to influence health and well-being but to satisfy the senses, providing pleasure and comfort. In addition to supplying the basic needs of the body for calories and nutrients, an optimum diet should also reduce risks of disease and fortify the body's defenses and intrinsic mechanisms of healing. I believe that how we eat is an important determinant of how we feel and how we age. I also believe that food can function as medicine to influence a variety of common ailments.
The American Council on Science and Health, a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to "helping distinguish between real and hypothetical health risks," recently suggested ten resolutions for a healthy new year. The council included obvious ones, such as don't smoke, wear seat belts, and install smoke detectors, but addressed diet in only one paragraph:
Eat a balanced and varied diet. Avoid obesity and fad diets. There are no magical guidelines for good nutrition. Patients should resolve to plan their diet around the watchwords "variety, moderation, and balance." Remember: There are no "good" or "bad" foods. The primary danger from food is overindulgence.
I find this advice to be remarkably unhelpful. Eat a balanced diet What is that? I meet people who think that adding a salad with creamy dressing to a cheeseburger and French fries balances the meal. Avoid obesity? Sure, that sounds like a good idea, but how do you do it? There are no "good" or "bad" foods? What about soybeans? They contain healthy fiber, a fat that may help lower cholesterol, and unusual compounds called isoflavones that may offer significant protection against common forms of cancer. Soybeans seem like a good food to me. What about margarine? For years I've been telling my patients to avoid it because it contains trans-fatty acids (TFAs), unnatural fats that promote inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Sounds like a bad food to me -- I won't eat it, even in moderation or in the pursuit of variety.
The primary danger from food is overindulgence? I'm sure my distant ancestors had no problem in that area, but what am I supposed to do when everywhere I look I see tempting offerings of food in ever more novel preparations, when many restaurants score points for the size of portions they serve, when I get more for my money buying giant sizes of food and drink, and when people who love me or want my attention give me food and more food as expressions of their affection or interest?