In this 58-minute talk, Andrew Weil summarizes the ideas he set out in his best-selling book Eating Well for Optimum Health. He stands in a very pretty garden in front of an audience of about 25 people. His talk is well structured and is clearly well prepared, but he talks off the cuff and so he remains engaging to the viewer. Occasionally there are screen graphics to illustrate his points. One of his most important points concerns carbohydrates: he says that most of our calories should come from carbohydrates, but it is better to eat carbs with a low glycemic load that takes the body longer to metabolize. This carbs that are made of pulverized starches that rapidly convert to blood sugar, and this is not good for us. Surprisingly, many "whole wheat" breads that are made just of pulverized starches are not recommended, because such foods cause spikes and troughs in blood sugar levels. He recommends carbs like beans, winter squashes and real whole grain foods. For fats, especially for cooking, he recommends extra virgin olive oil because of its anti-oxidants, and expeller pressed organic canola oil. He also emphasizes the importance of the daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. He says that we need only little protein and most people eat too much protein; we do better to eat vegetable protein such as beans and soy foods, rather than animal protein. Weil also says that the phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables are especially important for preventing diseases, and recommends making sure that one's food contains many different colors each day, since this is a good way to make sure that one's food has a good spectrum of different kinds of phytonutrients. He emphasizes the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea, white tea and dark chocolate, and recommends them. Oddly, while he recommends cooked mushrooms of the more exotic varieties for their healthful properties, he warns against raw mushrooms because they contain toxins and they are indigestible. There is a short question and answer section on the DVD and a 15-minute interview with Weil. These are both quite useful. This DVD provides a good introduction to Weil's ideas, and he makes a plausible case for his claims. Anyone wanting to follow up on his ideas about nutrition would want to look at his books for more detail.
© 2008 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.