Alternative Medicine Expert – Dr. Andrew Weil

November 3, 2010

Today Dr. Oz did a show titled ‘Alternative Health All-Star: Andrew Weil’. He was on the show to reveal his biggest secrets, the supplements he thinks we should be taking, and his revolutionary diet. He is referred to as the Guru of Alternative Medicine. He says in medical school, he learned nothing about prevention, or maintenance of health. But he thought those should be the main business of a doctor. He believes food is the best medicine. Weil believes the body is capable of healing itself, so uses a less-invasive approach to healing. He hopes this will be the future of medicine.

When he was 28, he decided to change his life. He eliminated meat from his diet, began walking, and meditating. Within a year, his allergies went away, he lost a lot of weight, and began sleeping better. This changed how he viewed medicine. He then traveled the world and studied healing from other cultures. He came back convinced that nobody has all the right answers. So he began blending the best tips and secrets he picked up from around the world, to create what he calls integrative medicine. Even though he was mostly ignored by his medical colleagues through the 70s and 80s, as they were still focused on more traditional medicine, he persevered because he knew he was on the right path.

But medicine has changed quite a bit since over the years. People now are actually looking for doctors that are more open-minded, and are knowledgable about practices that go beyond conventional medicine. Which has brought a lot of people to Dr. Weil’s door. Dr. Weil calls alternative/integrative medicine “optimal health”. He believes if we are really healthy, we can move through life without being harmed by all the things out there that can hurt people – germs, toxins, disease, etc. He believes anti-aging is the wrong path, as that is impossible. He thinks it distracts us from the really important goal, which is to go through life healthy and feeling good.

The show focused on three of our most critical organs – the brain, lungs, and heart. Dr. Weil gave his tips for each organ:

Brain – Weil says the brain is the master control center of everything. It is the most vital organ in the body. There are three things he wants us to do to protect our mental function and prevent cognitive decline. He thinks food is the best natural medicine. 1) Eat black cod & blueberries. Black cod/butter fish/sable fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids – better than salmon. The brain needs a daily supply of Omega-3 fats. It is also more sustainable than salmon. Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants. They protect the brain from environmental injury, and may reduce damage from strokes. 2) Take Acetyl L-Carnitine & Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements. The combo protects the health of the cells of the brain, and turns on a growth factor in the brain. 3) Cook at low temperatures. High temp cooking changes the chemical components in food, that can sometimes be dangerous. Lemon juice and vinegar help preserve the sanctity of the food.

Lungs – The lungs bring in oxygen, and expel carbon dioxide. They are vital structures linked with the cardiovascular system. They bear the brunt of air pollution. Weil shared three things to prevent lung disease. 1) Eat beta-carotene rich foods/carotenoids – things that are red/orange/yellow in pigment. These are protective anti-oxidants. They have a great beneficial effect on the lungs. They protect them from toxins and irritants. 2) Take a Zhu Ling supplement. This is a medicinal mushroom from China. It is completely nontoxic, and is useful for lung disease. Data shows it reduces the risk and growth of lung cancer. 3) Use a high-efficiency particulate air (hepa) filter. It screens out all but the very tiniest particles. It is great for people with asthma, chronic respiratory conditions, that live in smoggy areas, live with a smoker, etc.

Heart – Dr. Oz says optimal health begins and ends with this organ. It is the pump that delivers nutrition and oxygen to body. Our lifestyle drastically impacts heart and blood vessel health. The heart is vulnerable to the development of arterial disease and high blood pressure, which stress that whole system. How we eat plays a big role in that. Dr. Weil shared two tips for heart health. 1) Eat garlic. It is a super-herb, that is good for everything. It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and is a powerful infection and cancer fighter. The benefits come from fresh, raw garlic. 2) Take a CoQ10 supplement. It is a natural compound made in the body. It increases the use of oxygen in cells, especially heart muscle cells. You have to take it with fat to be absorbed, so is best taken with a meal. The soft-gel form is best absorbed.

Dr. Weil also shared his Optimum Health Diet. He created an entirely new health food pyramid. His diet is an anti-inflammatory diet, and is a version of the Mediterranean diet. He says all chronic diseases that plague or society begin as low-level diseases in the body. The problem is we eat foods that promote inflammation. His diet reduces the risk of all chronic degenerative diseases – heart disease, brain diseases, and cancer.

There are five foods he wants everyone eating everyday:

  • Cooked Asian Mushrooms (shitake, maitake, oyster, enoki). They increase immune function, and protect the body from cancer and viral infections. They are high in protein, vitamins & minerals, have unique health compounds, and are low in calories. But don’t eat them raw. They are indigestible raw, and you do not get the health benefits from eating them raw. They must be cooked. 
  • Whole Soy Foods – Not fake meats made of soy isolate or isolated soy protein, but rather edamame, soy nuts, soy milk, tofu, and tempeh. These are whole, unfractionated soy foods. They are great sources of protein, and have the power to protect us from hormonally-driven cancers (breast, prostate).
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – Things like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, arugula, radish, turnips, bok choy, mustards, and kale. They have strong cancer protective properties, and unique compounds that protect our bodies in various ways. The more you can eat, the better.
  • Healthy Fats – These protect the body from inflammation. Dr. Weil’s favorite is olive oil. When you don’t want the taste of olive oil, he recommends using expeller-pressed canola oil. He also likes walnut and hazelnut oil. They shouldn’t be heated though, so are great on salad. Hemp seeds are a good source of healthy fats like Omega-3s, as are flax seeds – which have to be ground. Weil says whole eggs have good fat in the yolk, so are okay in moderation.
  • Whole & Cracked Grains – Weil says there is a big difference between whole & cracked grains, and pulverized grains. When grains are ground into powder, it increases the surface area for digestive enzymes to turn them into sugar, which raises blood sugar quickly. He also says whole wheat bread is not a whole grain food. Whole grain food is where you can see the grains or big pieces of grains. These are digested slowly, so they don’t raise blood sugar too quickly.

For more health tips from Dr. Andrew Weil, visit his website. (www.drweil.com)

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