Recently while attending the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim California, I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Andrew Weil. A Harvard graduate and world-renowned leader in the field of integrative medicine, speaking to a standing room only audience.
One of the first things that Dr. Weil talked about was, “doctors essentially receive no training in nutrition and nutrition is consistently omitted from physician training.”
I am sure most readers out there are agreeing right now as more and more people are turning to nutritionists for help or more holistic options for healing.
He also spoke about the abysmal food in hospitals and the kind of example that is being set. Dr Weil told us a story about a first year medical student from the University of Pennsylvania who had written to him for advice. The med student had attempted to get a McDonald’s taken out of the hospital he worked in by passing around a petition and getting signatures. He gained so much attention, the dean of the University brought the student in and threatened that if he kept pursuing this endeavor, his medical license would be in serious danger.
Dr. Weil himself went head to head with the hospital he worked in while it was under remodel. He tried to change the food being offered in the cafeteria to offering more healthy and nutritionally sound options. When he realized the big wigs wouldn’t listen to any major changes, he settled on at least fighting for a salad bar. But when they unveiled the new cafeteria, the only new thing added was the look and no salad bar.
He noted with a small chuckle, “We need a change of personnel with the big wigs now running things to more forward thinkers, let the old die out” We all know that the only thing that stays the same is change and change is hard for people, especially when the heads of companies are making all the decisions and the bottom line is all that matters.
Dr. Weil told another story about a family that had come stay with him for a week. The first morning he had served them fresh squeezed orange juice and their little boy had refused to drink it because he said it didn’t taste like real orange juice. In his words, “apparently he had never had fresh squeezed OJ and that’s discouraging”.
His points are based around the idea that fresh whole foods are becoming increasingly more rare in our country because processed foods have taken over. He says, “people are forgetting what real food tastes like.”
Dr. Weil’s take on Supplements…
“High dosages of antioxidant supplements can interfere with the immune system, so general rule of thumb is to take low dosage & know what’s in supplements. Best to use as close to farm ‘real food’ supplements, just like we should be doing in the food we are eating.” He also added though that if we are the getting necessary vitamins in our food then most don’t need to take supplements.
When it comes to GMO’s, Dr. Weil seems conflicted. He says some GMO’s can really help our food and people but not the way Monsanto is doing it. For example, the wrong way of doing it is, scientists adding the antifreeze protein found in the flounder fish, which helps them sustain in freezing water, to strawberries so they too can resist freezing temperatures better. This genetic modification turns the strawberries blue. Would you eat a blue GMO strawberry?
As for GMO labeling, Dr. Weil states, “how can it ever be a bad thing to have nutritional information on food packaging? Our government is making deals with the devil.”
His prefers to use high-grade olive oil over any other oil and is not completely sold on the new popular coconut oil. Olive oil contains, Oleocanthol, which is an anti-inflammatory and the same ingredient that makes ibuprofen an inflammatory. He said to look for better versions of Olive oil and when you taste it, it should, “catch in your throat”. He’s a big believer in eating an inflammatory based diet for aging and longevity.
“Food is a very emotional subject and there’s a sense that there is only one way of doing it”, but we all know there are many ways and we all have our opinions about how to go about living right.
Dr. Weil was very enlightening and I am glad for the chance to see him speak in person. He reminds me of a jolly ole healthy Santa Clause, beard and all but without the big belly. There is more I did not add here, so for more information on Dr. Weil go to: